Education has played a vital role in Tanzania’s development since independence.

Yusla Jamanne, 9 years old, takes part in a class in which the teacher has been trained through the INSET programme that is supported by UNICEF.


In 2007, Tanzania achieved nearly universal access to primary education. However, since then, enrolment of primary school-aged children has been dropping. An estimated 2 million children between the ages of 7 and 13 years are out-of-school. Almost 70 per cent of children aged 14–17 years are not enrolled in secondary education while a mere 3.2 per cent are enrolled for the final two years of schooling.

Equity and quality pose major challenges. Primary school-aged children from the poorest families are three times less likely to attend school than those from the wealthiest households. Furthermore, while it is estimated that 7.9 per cent of Tanzanians are living with a disability, less than 1 per cent of children in pre-primary, primary and secondary school have a disability. 

Access to pre-primary education is very low and the poor quality of education dampens children’s prospects of a productive future. The pupil-to-qualified-teacher ratio at pre-primary level is 131:1. This ratio is 169:1 in public pre-primary school compared to 24:1 in private schools. Most children, especially those in rural areas, enter primary school poorly prepared due to the lack of access to early stimulation, poor nutrition and the low quality of pre-primary education.

School-going children often do not achieve foundational learning outcomes such as literacy, numeracy and life skills, which determine future performance. Results from the 2014 primary school leaving examinations in mainland Tanzania revealed that only 8 per cent of Grade 2 pupils could read properly, only 8 per cent could add or subtract, and less than 0.1 per cent showed high levels of life skills (academic grit, self-confidence, problem-solving).

Girls, the poorest children, children with disabilities and children living in underserved communities are most vulnerable to dropping out of school or never going to school. Early marriage and pregnancy keep girls out of school. Adolescent pregnancy led to almost 3,700 girls dropping out of primary and secondary education in 2016. More than one third of all girls are married by the age of 18, but girls from poor families are twice as likely to be married early than girls from wealthier homes. 


What is UNICEF doing?

UNICEF is supporting the government to ensure that every child in Tanzania has access to quality basic education. For this to happen, children need to be ready to learn, teachers prepared to teach, and schools enabled to provide quality education for all. The government has ambitious, yet feasible goals for improving educational opportunities for children.

UNICEF’s support includes providing assistance to formulate, implement and monitor sound and equitable policies; lay strong foundations for early childhood education; and improve the quality of primary education.

UNICEF works with the government to ensure that the most vulnerable children and adolescents enrol in school and complete their basic education. UNICEF advocates for the implementation of policies that address the causes of exclusion, especially for girls and children with disabilities, and the removal of hidden costs, such as uniforms and books, that keep children from the poorest families out of school. UNICEF also helps to develop the skills of teachers to support vulnerable children and create alternative learning opportunities that appeal to students who are unable to remain in school.

What we want to achieve by 2021

Together with the Ministries of Education and President's Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PORALG), development partners strengthen selected local government schools and communities, leading to the following key results.

  • Enhanced capacity to deliver quality and relevant formal basic education
  • Increased capacity to provide inclusive, safe and protective access and to ensure completion of basic education for the most vulnerable children and adolescents
  • Increased capacity to formulate, implement and monitor evidence-based policies, strategies and plans