About Tanzanian Schools

We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free. Epictetus


It is well known that lack of education is a leading cause of poverty in the developing world. At the most basic level, children must have the opportunity to attend school so they can become part of the agent for changing the system and achieving personal success in life. This is where Elimu Africa comes in. Our goal is to provide resources to allow these kids the opportunity to pursue their education.

The Tanzanian government school system is constructed differently than that in the US. The major technical difference is that in Tanzania school is not free, whereas in the US, school is free and every child has the right to attend. The average Tanzanian family lives on less than $1.00-$2.00 a day and cannot afford the luxury of education for their children. In Tanzania it is considered a privilege to attend school.

A major obstacle for attending school is cost:
  • Students are required to pay school fees, for uniforms, food, materials and if they are placed in a school away from home, boarding fees.
  • The total costs for primary school is approximately $40.00 per year.
  • The cost of secondary school is as much as $400 to $800 per year for government schools.
  • If the student is placed in a secondary school in another village or city, there is a cost for boarding and travel, which can bring the total up to $900.00 or more.

Additional challenges preventing kids from attending school:
  • In some cases, students are compelled to quit school to get married, help with younger kids and work around the home.
  • Adults in the homes may be uneducated and are therefore unable to help with homework.
  • Students may live a long distance from their school and are required to walk for hours to attend.
  • Lack of electricity in the homes. Once it is dark, students have no light for homework.
Despite all these rather daunting hurdles, students in Tanzania earnestly do their best to go to school and stay in school.

Kids are not automatically allowed to go to secondary school:

  • Movement from primary to secondary school requires the student to pass a national exam.
  • Those who do not pass the exam and cannot afford private school must simply end their education.
  • If students score well enough on the national exam, they will be assigned to a government school, based on their score.
Little economic opportunity or hope for the future exists for people who do not complete secondary education.

Less than one half of one percent (.27%) of students in Tanzania goes on to University!

Factors affecting the quality of education:
  • In secondary schools, subjects are taught in English so that students gain a good working knowledge of a language, which will link them to the rest of the world. In some cases, this instruction in English creates a barrier if students did not get good training at the primary school level.
  • Many schools do not have computers, putting them at a disadvantage in keeping up with technology. Also, many of the facilities are in ill repair, there is a shortage of books and materials and electricity is unreliable and can shut off at any time.
  • Currently there is a severe shortage of teachers in Tanzania and they are not paid well enough to sustain a decent lifestyle.
  • Average salaries for teachers are $150.00 to $300.00 per month.

The good news is there are many well-trained and dedicated educators in Tanzania who are continually working to lift the level of education in their country.

And despite cultural and logistical differences, there are some striking similarities between African kids and those from the US. They love to learn and enjoy running and playing, teasing, kicking a soccer ball or even an empty plastic bottle, showing off for one another and hamming it up for photos. Students in Africa are fun loving, well behaved and eager to learn. They do not take their education for granted.