Education equity and quality


What UNICEF is doing

Early childhood development

Quality education

Gender equality

Children with disabilities

Life skills

Impact with equity

Results for children



© UNICEF/TNZA2009-00040/Pudlowski
A group of friends in grade one at the Wailes Primary School in Temeke District, Tanzania.

Fast facts

  • Net primary enrolment rate: 94%
  • Gender parity index (primary): 1.0
  • Net pre-primary school enrolment rate 42.4%
  • Net primary completion rate: 62%
  • Pupil-qualified teacher ratio at primary level: 49:1
  • Primary school leaving examination pass rate: 53.5%
  • Pupil-latrine ratio (boys; girls) at primary level: 54:1; 51:1
  • Children aged 7–13 out of school: 489, 673
  • Children with disabilities enrolled in primary school: 33, 435
  • Pupil-textbook ratio at the primary level: 5:1

Source: BEST 2011; *Source: Education Sector Performance Report 2010-2011

Education in Tanzania

Tremendous progress has taken place in the education sector in Tanzania with major growth in enrolment in primary and secondary schools.

The abolition of fees in primary schools in 2001, coupled with the compulsory requirement that parents/guardians send all children to school, meant that 94 percent of children aged 7 to 13 years were enrolled in primary school in 2011, compared with only 59 percent in 2000. Net secondary school enrolment has also expanded quickly: from 6 percent in 2011 to over 30 percent in 2011.

Yet while Tanzania is ‘on track’ to achieve the Millennium Development Goal for enrolment in primary school for boy and girls, the education system struggles to deliver quality education, as reflected in recent disappointing examination results.

Challenges to quality education

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.

© UNICEF/TNZA2009-00058/Pudlowski
Students doing after class homework at the vocational training center in Msimbazi Centre, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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.

Around half (53.5 percent) of pupils passed the primary school leavers’ examination in 2010. This figure masks significant discrepancies; in Shinyanga and Kigoma regions around 70 percent of girls failed the exam compared with around 50 percent of boys. The reasons for this are manifold and complex and include entrenched cultural practices which lead to girls under-performing.

During 2010 alone, about 68,000 pupils dropped out of primary schools and 66,000 students left secondary school early. In the same year, over 7000 girls dropped out of primary and secondary schools due to pregnancy.

Nevertheless, girls with secondary or higher education are ten times less likely to become pregnant as adolescents than girls with no education.Poverty is an overwhelming phenomenon in rural Tanzania that is also reflected in poorer access to and lower quality of education; educational outcomes in urban areas are consistently higher than rural areas.

Regions with higher per capita income have lower pupil-teacher ratios and students attending these schools perform better in the primary school leavers’ examinations. Children in the poorest households have very little chance of attending secondary schools, and higher education is primarily an urban service.

In 2011, only 0.35 percent of all children enrolled in primary school were children with disabilities. In secondary schools, 0.3 percent of boys and 0.25 percent of girls have disabilities.

These percentages are extremely low when compared with the estimated 7.8 percent of the population with disabilities in Tanzania and indicates that most children with impairment are not enrolled.

There is no functioning national system for the identification and assessment of children with physical or mental impairments, and no coherent data to track or respond to their needs. For those children with disabilities who do enroll, regular attendance is often extremely difficult. Girls with disability are more vulnerable to abuse including sexual abuse than boys.



 Email this article

unite for children