Rapid expansion in enrolment has meant that classroom sizes have mushroomed – with an average of 66 pupils in each government primary school classroom in 2011. Mwanza region is hardest hit, with an average 89 pupils per classroom.
In some classrooms there can be as many as 200 children, particularly at the lower primary school grade levels.
There has been no corresponding increase in the number of trained teachers – the pupil:qualified teacher ratio stands at 49:1. Again there are regional disparities with Tabora region’s ratio standing at 65:1 and Kilimanjaro region’s at 34:1.
Most schools also face extreme shortages in textbooks, desks, chairs, toilets, water supply, and hand-washing facilities. On average there is one textbook for every 5 students and 1 latrine for 54 and 51 boys and girls respectively.
This is far below the norm pupil: latrine ratio of 25:1 for boys and 20:1 for girls and impacts especially on girls’ attendance and performance.
Teaching methods are often gender-biased. A national survey of violence against children revealed that many teachers exceed the legal limits of officially sanctioned corporal punishment. Over 50 percent of girls and boys interviewed reported being punched, kicked or whipped by a teacher.
UNICEF in action
UNICEF plays a critical role in helping Tanzania move towards a vision of quality and equity education. This is particularly important given the many challenges children face in going to and staying in school and getting a good education.
UNICEF supports the development and implementation of national quality standards that provide a holistic school development structure based on a child friendly approach.
This stresses the importance of providing an encouraging environment for learning in school, including safety and protection from violence, access to clean water and sanitation, as well as effective teaching and learning processes, improved governance and successful learning outcomes.
Support for in-service teacher education and training in selected districts, Whole School Planning and strengthening the school inspection and supervision system is leading to a significant improvement on the delivery of quality education in these districts. More important, it is providing evidence to Government of what works and what can be scaled up nationally.