by Naomi Rouse

New survey highlights shifting public views on education
Twelve years ago, around half of respondents in a public opinion survey thought that it would be better to have free schooling, even if the qual­ity of education was low. Since the introduction of free basic education, there has been a significant shift in public opinion, and a clear majority (87%) now think it would be “better to raise education standards, even if we have to pay fees”.

For the survey respondents, cost is a much lower concern than quality when choosing schools for their children. Only 6% of respondents said they would consider cost, whereas 72% said they were influenced by exam results and teacher motivation.

More than half of parents (53%) had made contributions of money, materials or labour to school constructions in the past year.

Many parents see themselves as primarily responsible for their chil­dren’s learning (52%) and 46% of parents said that teachers bear the primary responsibility. Almost no parents mentioned anyone in gov­ernment as being responsible for learning. (The Guardian)

Fresh plan to screen teachers
In June, the Ministry of Education tabled the Tanzania Teachers’ Professional Board Bill for a first reading in parliament, to improve regulation of teaching. The new education board will have nine mem­bers appointed by the Minister for Education, Science and Technology, which will include a registrar responsible for registering teachers and keeping records on them.

The penalty proposed in the new bill for working as a teacher without registration is a fine of between TSh 500,000 and TSh 1 million, and imprisonment for up to a year, or both. The new board will have con­trol of both private and public schools, in contrast with the Teachers Service Commission which currently only oversees teachers from public schools. Stakeholders welcomed the move, which has been under dis­cussion for a long time. (The Citizen)

Teacher : student ratio still a concern
Government data shows that primary school teachers in parts of Tanzania attend to as many as 180 pupils in a single classroom, with a huge disparity between urban and rural areas.

Government data shows a shortage of 47,151 teachers in primary schools across the country, with 66% of schools surpassing the 1:40 pupil teacher ratio. Considered regionally, just three regions had a pupil teacher ratio below the national average, which were Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Kilimanjaro.

Kasulu District in Kigoma region had the worst overall district pupil teacher ratio, at an average of 102. Plans were in place to employ 10,140 new primary school teachers in June. (The Citizen)

Number of HESLB loan recipients hits 40,000
The Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) has increased the number of loan beneficiaries by 7,000 this year, to reach 40,000 new students. TSh 427 billion has been allocated for higher education loans, with priority given to those pursuing courses with shortage of experts and those in line with the country’s industrialisation policy. (The Citizen)

No study loans for students from wealthy families, reiterates Magufuli
President John Magufuli has reiterated that the government will not give higher education study loans to children from wealthy families.

“The government is facing a lot of challenges in educating our children, and it’s even sad that a report shows that at least 3,500 ghost students accessed loans, while thousands of others had finished studies but have been elusive in paying back their loans.”

Dr Magufuli made the remarks at Mkwawa University in Iringa Region, highlighting the government is spending over TSh 23.8 billion every month on free education.

Government reacts to uproar over new HESLB loan terms
Education stakeholders are up in arms over the government’s decision to use the business licences of parents or guardians as a condition for granting higher education loans. The move is intended to help in estab­lishing the income of students’ parents or guardians.

The Deputy Minister for Education called up on the public to ignore reports that a student whose parents or guardians have no business licence wouldn’t qualify for a loan. Some MPs had also raised this con­cern, saying that the policy would discriminate against small traders without licences. The Deputy Minister stated that “We want to assure the public that we only use business licences to determine the actual income of students’ parents and not otherwise”. (The Citizen)


by Naomi Rouse

JPM spits fire on arbitrary ‘contributions’ in schools.
A strong statement was made by President Magufuli in January threat­ening to fire any officials who breach the free education policy, intro­duced in 2014. The President had received reports of students sent away for not paying contributions demanded by schools for desks, meals, and lab construction.

The President felt that this situation was inexcusable given that the gov­ernment releases TSh 23.9 billion (£7.3 million) every month to fund free basic education up to Form Four. “To the ministers: I don’t want to hear about students being sent away for failing to pay these contributions.

Relay this message to regional commissioners, district commissioners, district executive directors and all other government officials. A recur­rence of this will automatically mean being fired.”

Officials were ordered to ensure that any contributions paid be returned to parents and students be allowed to resume classes immediately. The President ordered that if parents did make any voluntary contributions in future, these should be submitted to the District Executive Directors rather than school heads. The Minister for Education also asked for a report on all schools asking for contributions. (IPP Media)

Tanzania introduced fee free education in 2015, but the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report has found that cost still remains a barrier in plenty of countries providing free education.

Magufuli said: “It makes no sense for the government to remove the school fees and yet for teachers to decide to introduce contributions that poor parents can’t afford to pay for their children”.

GEM welcomes this key step in making sure the free education policy is implemented in practice and ensuring that the poorest children in Tanzania can access education.

Global monitoring data shows that in general, the poorest countries contribute the most to education expenditure. While in high income countries, families contribute just 18% of total education expenditure, this rises to a third in low income countries in general, and 63% in neighbouring Uganda.

Within Tanzania, as in many countries, the poorest children are the most likely to be out of school. Only 3% of the richest children have never been to school compared to 33% of the poorest. Responsibility for implementing fee free education lies at the school level, and the President is holding the sector to account for this. (World Education Blog – Global Education Monitoring Report)

“Punishment won’t stop teenage pregnancies,” because bad behav­iour isn’t the cause
Tanzania’s harsh approach to teen pregnancies isn’t working. According to government data, the number of pregnancies in girls aged between 15 – 19 increased from 23% in 2010 to 27% in 2015, and is higher than 20 years ago.
Pregnant girls are routinely expelled from school and most recently this punitive approach was taken to extremes when school girls were arrested and told they may be forced to testify in court as to who got them pregnant. The idea that girls who get pregnant have broken unwritten social rules about respectability, and therefore must be wilful and badly behaved, provides authorities with a rationale for punishing girls and their families for pregnancies. This narrative must be chal­lenged.

But veering in the other direction by describing girls as “victims” ignores that there may be reasons why they engage in risky relation­ships. Teenage pregnancy in Tanzania cannot be reduced to either ‘bad behaviour’ or ‘exploitation’. Research by Kate Pinock of the University of Oxford with Tanzanian schoolgirls highlights the complex dynamics of power, respectability and authority.

Kate says: “Often with the best of intentions about protecting girls’ sta­tus in their communities, authority figures (such as parents and teach­ers) reinforce social norms about respect, deference and “goodness” which can make it difficult for girls to assert themselves in relationships. Their stories were in sharp contrast to the dominant representation of girls’ sexuality as problematic and victimised. Girls spoke about sex and relationships not in terms of fear or passivity, but in relation to other hurdles and opportunities they faced. Poverty, male teachers, issues of respectability and community all shaped their experiences of sexuality.”

The pressure to achieve at school pushed girls into relationships with male teachers (for grades) or boyfriends who would pay for school sup­plies and food in return for their affections. The important thing was that this happened in secret and therefore did not affect girls’ reputa­tions. But the clandestine nature of the arrangements means that there are no real opportunities for girls to seek information about preventing pregnancy. Using contraceptives or even talking about sex was seen as “bad behaviour”.

Girls already find ways to navigate repressive norms about their sexual­ity. With the right support and knowledge, they may be able to push back against them. It requires de-stigmatising conversations about sexuality and affirming girls so that they can pursue respectful and safe relationships. (

Minister lauds China for vast UDSM library facility

The new UDSM library currently under construction (BUAM architects)

The Chinese government has invested 90bn TSh (£27.6 million) in a state of the art library for the University of Dar es Salaam which will benefit nearly 800,000 students. The structure combines the library and the Confucius Institute, which teaches Chinese language and culture at the university.

UDSM Vice Chancellor, Professor William Anangisye said the library will help realise UDSM’s dream of becoming a world class university. Minister for Education, Professor Joyce Nadlichako, said the library is bigger than any other in Africa. It is hoped that the library will improve student performance and university research, as well as giving students the opportunity to interact socially and academically with China, as one of the major global economic powerhouses.
The project has been delivered by Chinese construction firm, Jiangsu Jiangdu. The Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Wang Ke said that the Chinese government is happy to see Tanzania developing in all spheres and the government is eager to continue to support Tanzania’s social development.
It is expected that the library will be completed in July, 2018.

Mkapa voices dismay over national education ‘crisis’
Speaking at the ceremony for the investiture of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Dodoma, former President Mkapa said that the concerns of the public and higher learning institutions about the poor quality of education in the country needed to be taken seriously. He said these include concerns about language, and lack of cooperation among education providers.

Mkapa recommended that an all-inclusive dialogue was needed to work out what is wrong and how to correct it.

On his record as outgoing chancellor of University of Dodoma, Mkapa said that enrolment had increased from 1,272 at its inception in 2007 to 10,000 at present. UDOM is currently ranked the second-best university in the country after the University of Dar es Salaam.

Newly appointed vice chancellor Professor Egid Mubofu said he wanted to improve facilities for research and pledged to construct two colleges of natural sciences and mathematics and earth sciences. (IPP Media)


When President Magufuli announced early in 2017 that schoolgirls who get pregnant would no longer be allowed to return to school after giving birth, there was an outcry among gender activists and others (see TA 118).

These protests did not succeed in changing the President’s mind, however, and the new policy remains unchanged. Moreover, two other recent developments threaten to create more challenges for schoolgirls.

First, in his Independence Day speech the President announced he was going to pardon two convicted child rapists, the singers Nguza Viking, known as Babu Seya, and his son Johnson Nguza, known as Papii Kocha. Their conviction dated back to 2003, when they were found guilty of raping ten girls aged 6-8 years. After the pardon, the pair were released almost immediately, having served 13 years and have since paid a visit to the President at State House.

It has long been believed by many in Tanzania, particularly young people, that Babu Seya and his son were framed in retribution for actions that caused the then Minister of Foreign Affairs (and later President) Jakaya Kikwete to take great personal offence. During the election campaign in 2015, the leading opposition presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa of Chadema, called for their release. The president’s move is seen as a nod to this strand of public opinion. It also has the effect of suggesting, without ever saying so explicitly, that the current President believes the rumours, and differentiates his “firm hand” style of leadership from the perceived “bend-the-rules” approach of his predecessors.

However, there is little or no evidence to support this conspiracy claim, and the court that convicted the two singers in 2003 heard from a large number of witnesses including children and medical experts. The conviction was later upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The pardon drew praise from some quarters and criticism from others. The President received cheers from the crowd as he announced the decision in Dodoma, and much of the reaction on social media has been in support of his decision.

However, opposition MP, Zitto Kabwe, posted a series of tweets on twitter: “So we must believe street rumours instead of competent authorities? Then we will be a banana republic. … Same President ordered pregnant girls not to go back to school after delivery. … This is the message the president sends to girl child of Tanzania. … I am appalled by his decision to pardon convicted rapists.”

Petrider Paul, of Youth for Change, in Tanzania, said the pardons sent a “terrible” message to perpetrators of sexual violence and devalued their victims. “It is unfair to the victims of these crimes and it sends a bad message to perpetrators that they can get away with it,” she said.

Around the same time, the Regional Commissioner of Mwanza, John Mongella, called for pregnant schoolgirls to be arrested, “so that they will be forced to reveal the names of those who impregnated them”. At the opposite end of the country, in Tandahimba District, Mtwara Region, several pregnant girls were later arrested together with their parents and pressed to reveal names. The fathers are said to have gone into hiding.


by Naomi Rouse

PM invites proposals on education policy
The government has invited ideas to reshape education to better contribute to national development goals. “Tanzania Towards Industrialisation” under the theme: ‘Rethinking Education for Self-Reliance Policy.’ At a national symposium, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said “The government is ready to receive suggestions from experts, stakeholders and members of the general public on restructuring of our education system to match our current development goals to transform Tanzania into an industrial economy.” The symposium comes amid increasing demand for serious reflection on the state of education, and public discontent with performance of formal education at all levels. (Daily News)

Free education sees sharp rise in exam candidates
There was a significant rise in the number of Form 2 and Form 4 exam candidates this year, attributed to the increased retention of students after the Free Education Policy. The number of Form 2 candidates increased by 86,780 to 521,855, of which nearly 52% were girls. The number of Form 4 candidates increased by 141,779 to 1,195,970. (The Citizen)

Girls shine in Standard 7 exam as overall pass rate increases
Overall passes increased by 2 percentage points this year, to 72.76%. A total of 662,035 registered candidates out of 909,950 pupils, who sat for the Primary School Leaving Examination this year passed. 70% of girls taking the exam passed and 75% of boys. 10 candidates were disqualified for cheating. (The Citizen)

Sanitary pads fund will help girls realise their dreams
Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) is leading the call for the government to establish a fund for providing sanitary products to girls. Research by TGNP shows that girls are missing between three and seven days of school every month due to inadequate sanitary provision. “It is a huge concern,” said Ms Grace Kisetu, Activism and Movement Building Manager at TGNP. “There are no sanitary towels, even locally made ones, to help these children, most of whom come from poor households, and some of whom experience their menstrual period for the first time,” she noted. Besides lacking adequate funds, she says public schools across the country also lacked pain killers for delivery to needy pupils. A resident of Kipunguni, Mr Suleiman Bishangazi, suggested that the government should allocate 5 cents from the sale of a litre of fuel to a special fund for schoolgirls’ sanitary pads across the country. Mr Bishangazi expressed optimism that the arrangement would have positive outcomes similar to the ones related to rural electrification, water supply and road constructions. The net result, he said, would be assuring thousands of children of learning opportunities. (Daily News)

UDSM gets new Vice Chancellor as Prof Mukandala retires
President John Magufuli has appointed Professor William Anangisye to succeed Professor Mukandala as Vice Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam. Prof Anangisye was previously Principal of Dar es Salaam University College of Education. (The Citizen)


by Naomi Rouse

Schoolgirls at Zanaki Primary School, Dar es Salaam (Sara Farhart/World Bank)

Civil Society ready to challenge the President on controversial education policy
The unequivocal statement by President Magufuli banning pregnant girls and young mothers from attending school is a setback for the ‘re-entry’ policy that had gained growing momentum in recent years. However, Tanzanian civil society and others are mobilising to oppose the ban.

The familiar arguments have been brought out: a breakdown in morality, an epidemic of pregnancies and classrooms full of pregnant girls, if you start to allow any young mothers to return to school. One CCM MP, Mr Keisy, envisaged a slippery slope towards liberalism: “We are supposed to be firm on these issues otherwise we will find ourselves approving same-sex marriage”. On the other hand, civil society organisations are highlighting girls’ vulnerability and prevalence of forced sex, girls’ constitutional rights to education, and the benefits to the whole community if pregnant girls are allowed to continue their education.

There is not an overt religious element to the debate, though one MP argued that “all religions are against this… after all, we have stringent legislation on this issue, why are we diverting from it? Why should we jail amorous men, but allow errant girls back to school?”

Opinions have not been split on gender lines, with some male politicians speaking out in support of the re-entry policy, and high-profile women opposing it, including former First Lady Salma Kikwete. However sexist arguments abound in the debate. One CCM MP challenged women MPs to tell the house if they started to engage in sexual activity while still in school. President Magufuli himself said the country would “reach a time when all the pupils in a class will be mothers and when it is time for learning they will need to go to breast-feed their children at their home”.

Salma Kikwete is perhaps a surprising opponent of girls returning to school, having established a high-profile women’s rights foundation, WAMA (Wanawake Maendeleo), with the mantra “treat every child as your own.”

Ms Nyimbo (Special Seats – CCM) pointed out in the parliamentary debate, political opposition to the re-entry policy is hypocritical because of vast disparities of wealth and power. “The fact is that if the daughter of an MP or any other well-to-do person gets pregnant while in school, chances are that that will not be the end of their educational journey. They are sure to be sent back to school after giving birth. Why should we lock out girls from poor families? How can we end the vicious cycle of poverty? Let’s be fair.”

There is a lot at stake. 55,000 girls are officially recognised to have left school due to pregnancy in the past decade, though this is likely to be significantly under-estimated. The most recent Tanzania Demographic Health Survey shows that 27 out of 100 girls in Tanzania have become pregnant by the age of 18. It is in no one’s interest to exclude girls from education, given the powerful benefits of education for girls’ income, family size and their ability to care for their families. In addition to the very pressing issue of sexual violence against girls, the question of reproductive health services for young people is still the elephant in the room.

Magufuli’s insistence that young mothers will never be allowed back to school while he is in power is a real test for Tanzanian civil society. A group of 26 organisations issued a joint statement against the ban, including one representing a further 50 member organisations. This is a sign that civil society action is better coordinated and has a stronger and more unified voice than in the past, but it could be a tough fight.

STOP PRESS: Policy draws criticism from African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
On 03 August 2017, the ACHPR Commissioner Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the United Republic of Tanzania and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, together with the Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, transmitted a Joint Letter of Appeal to the President of the United Republic of Tanzania regarding the statement made on 22 June 2017 to the effect that pregnant girls and teen mothers will not be allowed to attend school. The Joint Letter of Appeal expressed the view of the Commission and Committee that this statement runs the risk of undermining the right to education and the right to equality of girls, and urged the State to fulfil its obligations concerning these rights in terms of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

Summary of media coverage of the issue

MPs split on proposal to allow teenage mothers back to school
Parliament was divided on the proposal to allow young mothers back to school. The Social Services and Community Development Committee and the Opposition party are pushing for a change in the policy. Former First Lady Salma Kikwete was one of the high profile opponents of the policy. Support for the policy emphasised girls’ welfare whereas those opposing the policy urged the importance of maintaining an ‘ethical society’ and protecting Tanzania’s culture and customs, which prohibit sex before marriage. (The Citizen)

JPM: No going back to school once you become a mother
Speaking at a ceremony to open the new Bagamoyo-Msata road, President Magufuli spoke out against allowing girls back to school, on the grounds that this would encourage other girls to be sexually active without worrying about the consequences. Magufuli dismissed the advocacy work of NGOs and said that they should open their own schools for pregnant girls, and that the government would never accept the girls back in government schools. (The Guardian)

Women react to Magufuli’s pregnant schoolgirl ban

An online petition has been set up and a pan African Women’s organisation is mobilising to get Magufuli to apologise and reverse his comments regarding education of young mothers.
Jackie Lomboma, spoke out about her personal experiences, saying “It is a big disappointment to hear such a statement from our President”. Jackie became pregnant when she trusted a boy who promised to ask his parents to help fund her secondary education. She was kicked out of school and home, later getting the chance to go back to school. She has since set up a centre for teenage mothers in Morogoro. (The Guardian)

Opposition Coalition faults JPM stance on pregnant schoolgirls
Shadow Minister for Education, Science and Vocational Training, Suza Lyimo said she has been saddened by the president’s statement because all students had a constitutional right to education. She said they have been advocating the matter for several years, and there is already a government document explaining how pregnant girls should be allowed back to school. Zambia and Kenya have approved similar policies, and the Deputy Minister for Education had previously informed the National Assembly that the government was working on guidelines on the matter.
But President Magufuli said that the debate was closed, and the government would never allow young mothers back into school while he is in office. (The Guardian)

Teen mothers: what JPM ban portend for girls
In response to the parliamentary debate about the education of young mothers, the Citizen profiled the story of a young girl who at the age of 8 had gone to Dar es Salaam under the promise of being given an education, but ended up working as a house girl. Her neighbour offered to take care of her, but after several months said he could not take care of her for free, as she was not a relative. He made her pregnant when she was 12, and she enrolled in the MEMKWA programme in 2014, but the article highlights that some officials are even applying Magufuli’s ban to MEMKWA classes. (The Citizen)

“After getting pregnant you are done” – no more school for Tanzania’s mums-to-be
Civil society organisations are mobilising in response to Magufuli’s ban on educating young mothers. A 2013 report from the Centre for Reproductive Rights says that 55,000 pregnant girls have been expelled from school in the last decade. Equality now is supporting a coalition of over 20 organisations who have issued a joint statement against the ban. They cited success from Zanzibar where girls have returned to school without any evidence of an increase in pregnancies as a result of allowing girls back, and called for measures to address violence against girls which is a major cause of teen pregnancy. (The Guardian, UK)

Joint statement by coalition of civil society organisations on re-entry to school for girls after they have given birth
Twaweza published a joint statement from 26 organisations in support of the education of young mothers. The statement cites public opinion from Sauti za Wananchi surveys, showing 71% in favour of pregnant girls returning to school as well as referencing existing government policies which support the education of pregnant girls. The statement also highlights the prevalence of forced sex, quoting research which shows that 3 out of 10 girls are forced in their first sexual experience.


by Naomi Rouse

New report highlights effects of free learning
When authorities introduced fee-free education from primary up to Form IV of secondary school, they expected the teacher-pupil ratio to double, from 1:50 to 1:99. But a new study by HakiElimu shows that Grade One enrolment in Dar es Salaam has in fact tripled, with an average of one teacher for 164 pupils.

Unlike previous measures to abolish fees, this move was not accompanied by a teacher recruitment drive. HakiElimu raises concerns about the impact this is having on the quality of education.

The study was conducted in 56 schools from seven districts randomly selected to achieve geographic representation. It aimed to understand implementation of the fee-free basic education policy, and stakeholders’ views on its impact on teaching and learning.

HakiElimu found that there was confusion between basic education and free education, and only 44% of headteachers understood the policy. Receipt of capitation grants was varied, but overall, primary schools received less than they were expecting, and secondary schools received more. Education stakeholders asked the government to respond with a full strategy to address the challenges highlighted in the report. (The Citizen)

Only 27% of Form IV candidates qualify for high school
National Form IV exam results released in January show a modest (2.5%) improvement on previous year’s results. 408,372 students sat the exams, and 70% passed with Division I – IV. However, only 27% of candidates achieved good enough passes (Division I – III) to proceed to Form V. Gender disparities are clear in the results. 51% of candidates were girls, reflecting the progress made in increasing girls’ enrolment. However, girls’ performance lags behind. Only 67% of girls passed (with Division I – IV), compared with 73% of boys. A greater disparity is seen in the higher grades, with only 22% of girls achieving Division I – III compared with 33% of boys.

Results were annulled for 126 candidates who were accused of cheating.

The top 10 schools nationally are: Feza Boys, Shamisiye Boys, Thomas More Machrina, Marian Boys, Marian Girls, St. Aloysius Girls, St. Francis Girls (Mbeya), Kaizirege Junior (Kagera), Kifungilo Girls (Tanga) and Anwarite Girls (Kilimanjaro).

Alfred Shauri (Feza Boys), expressed disbelief and excitement at coming top in the Form IV exams, saying he had worked hard over time, and carefully following the instructions of his teachers. Given his strengths in science, his friends and family are urging him to become and engineer, but he is keen to pursue business and entrepreneurship.
Top girl Cynthia Mchechu, was also overwhelmed with joy, and aspires to become a lawyer specialising in real estate, recognising the lucrative housing market in the country. (The Citizen)

Dar es Salaam achieved its worst results for several years, with 6 of the worst performing schools being from Dar. As head teachers were summoned by the Regional Education Officer to account for the results, some came out publicly out to defend their position, blaming results on factors beyond their control such as long distances, truancy, and shortage of teachers. Other teachers declined to comment, with one saying “I am totally confused with these results.”

One teacher remarked that it was difficult for the calibre of students who were enrolled at the school to pass due to their low pass rates in their Standard Seven examinations. In another school, most students live almost 20 kilometres from the school, which was cited as making it difficult for teachers to monitor students’ behaviour after school hours.

Mock results had also been poor, prompting District Executive Directors to write letters to heads of schools to ‘pull up their socks’ to avoid negative outcomes in the final exams. (Daily News)

Sexual abuse and corporal punishment ‘widespread’ in Tanzania’s schools
Human Rights Watch report calls on UK and other aid donors funding ambitious education programme to put pressure on government to halt abuses. The report found sexual abuse, harassment and corporal punishment to be widespread in schools in Tanzania. The report also found that more than 40% of adolescents in Tanzania were left out of quality lower-secondary education, despite a decision to make this schooling free.

The report, “I Had a Dream to Finish School”: Barriers to Secondary Education in Tanzania, picks up on compulsory pregnancy tests in some areas and expulsion of pregnant girls, as well as the widespread use of “brutal and humiliating forms” of corporal punishment. The report said female students were exposed to widespread sexual harassment, and that male teachers in some schools attempted to persuade or coerce them into sexual relationships.

Tanzania is one of Africa’s largest recipients of aid, and DFID is set to spend £150million on education in Tanzania between 2013 and 2020. HRW called on the UK government to leverage its donor position and call on the Tanzanian government to urgently address the most critical issues exposed in the research, particularly corporal punishment and sexual abuse. (UK Guardian)

Students protest the transfer of their headteacher

Students at Bariadi School assist their fellow student suffering the effects of tear gas (Simiyu news blog

More than 600 students from Bariadi Secondary School, Simiye Region, blocked the main road holding up community activities for several hours in a protest against the transfer of their head teacher. Students tried to march on the District Executive Director’s Office but were prevented by police.

Students had been refusing to enter class since the day before when the transfer of their existing head was announced, saying they did not want to let him go because he was hard-working. They carried banners refusing the new head, and threw rocks at the police before the police arrested and beat some students and released teargas to disperse them. The District Commissioner visited the school to calm the students and asked them to return to class, as their request was granted and the head would not be transferred after all. (Mwananchi)

Government orders submission of pregnancy report
The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu has ordered the Director of Children to supply a report on pregnancies within one month. Schools are legally required to report the number of schoolgirl pregnancies on a quarterly basis, with head teachers facing possible imprisonment for non-compliance, but Ms Mwalimu challenged colleagues to ask who had followed up to see that reports were actually being submitted as required. She emphasised the importance of following up, to ensure that laws to protect girls from early marriage and pregnancy are being enforced. While stakeholders often point the finger at parents, she held institutions responsible for not following up on implementation of the law, which requires stiffer penalties for men found marrying or impregnating schoolgirls. Tanzania has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world and according to the 2016 Tanzania Demographic Household Statistics (TDHS), one third of all girls in the country were married when they were still children. (Daily News)

7,000 tertiary students risk expulsion
The Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) has reviewed student eligibility and published the names of 7,000 students who have been found to have been admitted into programmes that they don’t qualify for. The named students have one week to prove their academic credentials, or risk expulsion. 52 higher learning institutions across the country are affected. (Daily News)

Loan recovery drives up collections
New procedures for deducting loan repayments from salaries have successfully increased collections by the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB). Monthly collection has increased from Tsh 3.8bn to TSh 12bn, with the total amount collected over 8 months standing at TSh 49bn. With the new measures, the board is optimistic of further progress, stating “If we proceed with this trend, we are certain that by June we will have collected TSh 100bn for a period of one year since the campaign started. Previously, the board used to collect that amount in ten years”. At the annual rate of TSh 100bn collections, the board will be able to finance the loan issuance budget by between 20 and 25 per cent. Currently, the government funds almost the entire amount required to lend to students from its budget.


by Ben Taylor

Anti-fraud drive in higher education reaches back in time
The government’s efforts to put a stop to corruption and fake certificates in the higher education sector has moved in a new direction, after the government started asking all civil servants to provide proof of their identity and qualifications. The exercise seeks to identify those who gained entry into higher education without meeting the full requirements, or those who used a certificate belonging to someone else, so they can be stripped of their qualifications and potentially also their jobs.

“We won’t spare anyone…we will go through all the names from freshers to finalists currently in universities, and graduates. Entry qualifications are very clear so there will be no room for manoeuvring,” said Minister of Education, Prof Joyce Ndalichako.

The National Examination Council (NECTA) issued a statement issued asking Tanzanians with information about people who were using other people’s academic credentials to send details to the council.

It is reported that forgery is a widespread problem especially among civil servants. Such documents are used for admissions in schools, colleges and universities as well as for securing employment. (The Guardian, Daily News)

Beating recorded on smartphone prompts national debate on corporal punishment
A video of several trainee-teachers violently punishing a secondary school pupil in Mbeya has ignited a new debate on the use of such punishments in Tanzanian schools. The video, shot on the mobile phone of another teacher, shows some male teachers throwing the boy to the floor and beating him with sticks or with their fists while others held him down. A female voice can be heard pleading for the teachers to stop. The video was posted on social media, where it circulated widely.

Reports suggest the “punishment” stemmed from unfinished homework that had been issued by one of the trainee teachers.

The footage drew outrage online, with many demanding that the government take action against the culprits. In response, the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Mwigulu Nchemba and the Mbeya Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Amos Makalla, issued separate statements condemning the act and directing the police to arrest the culprits.

Mr Makalla later reported that the police in Mbeya Region were holding several teachers, including the school’s headmaster, for interrogation, and getting a statement from the student. “I want to assure the public that the police will find the trainee teachers involved in the matter so that they face the full wrath of the law,” he said.

The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, condemned the corporal punishment, explaining that her ministry did not condone such violent acts against defenceless children.

“We are not saying that children shouldn’t be punished. But what those teachers did amounted to an act of violence against a child and not punishment as such,” she said. “There are regulations on caning students and on particular parts of the body,” she explained, adding that she could not herself bear to watch the entire clip because of the cruelty involved.

A later government statement said the head teacher had been suspended for “not taking action even after being aware of the incident”. (BBC, Daily News, The Guardian, YouTube)


by Ben Taylor

Crackdown on under-qualified students in higher education, alleged corruption in student loans
Thousands of university students have been expelled, after a review found that they did not possess the correct qualifications for admission to their courses. In one case – the University of Dodoma (UDOM)’s special teacher training diploma course – over seven thousand students were expelled in a single day, leaving just 382 students in place on the course, less than 5% of the original number.

University of Dodoma (UDOM) administrative offices

University of Dodoma (UDOM) administrative offices

The Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, explained that a vetting exercise had established that the 382 students allowed back were the only ones who were actually qualified for admission to the university’s special diploma. The rest had been wrongfully enrolled, she added.

“Since the (admissions) review established that 382 students passed at least two science subjects with divisions I and II … these are the only students who will be allowed to re-join UDOM and complete their studies at the university,” she said.

The special teacher training program was aimed at reducing a shortage of science, mathematics and technology teachers countrywide.

The chairperson of the University of Dodoma Academic Staff Association (UDOMASA), Edson Baradyana, was critical of the government move to expel the students. He put the blame on the government officials who spearheaded the teacher training programme. “This was the government’s plan from the outset and they stated the required qualifications for admission to the programme, so the university should not bear the blame,” he said.

According to Baradyana, there could be some confusion over the grading system used by the government team that carried out the verification exercise. He suggested that those enrolled in first year were admitted using GPA qualifications, but the government had since reverted back to the old division system.

He added that since he had been personally involved in the initial admission process, he could vouch for it. He added that government officials previously did not listen to warnings from UDOM academicians that the teacher training programme was flawed in the first place.

Earlier, it had emerged that 1,000 O-level students were wrongfully enrolled to pursue undergraduate degrees over the past two to three years without passing through A-level education. The parliamentary Social Development and Services Committee announced in the National Assembly that the students were admitted to various universities and colleges in the 2013/2014 academic year contrary to admissions guidelines issued by the state-run Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU).

This news came just a day after President John Magufuli disbanded the TCU’s governing board and sacked or suspended several top commission officials over a related student enrolment scam discovered at the privately-owned St Joseph University in Tanzania. 489 students from St Joseph’s were expelled as a result.

The shadow education minister Susan Lyimo questioned the government’s decision, calling for an explanation from government as to why TCU and the education ministry appeared to have cleared the university of any wrongdoing last year, only to take action now. “Who is going to compensate these students for wasting their time, and what is the fate of these institutions?” she asked

The scandal also spread to the Higher Education Student Loans Board (HESLB), which was accused of issuing loans to “ghost students” and underqualified students.

A special audit, conducted by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), found that TSh 23bn (£8m) in loans supposedly issued by the HESLB could not be accounted for. This includes loans issued to non-existent students, unrecorded repayments by former students, and accounts showing amounts owed by some students to be half the value of the loans issued.
There are also cases of one student’s name appearing among loan beneficiaries in more than one institution of higher learning, and one bank account being used by more than one student to receive loans from HESLB, according to Minister Ndalichako. A total of 2,619 students with loans totalling TSh 14.4bn appeared to have used the same Form Four index number to receive the loans while with two different colleges, she said.

She directed the board management to close the loopholes in the loans issuance and debt collection systems, and to provide an explanation on 168 suspected fake University of Dar es Salaam students who appeared to have received TSh 531.3m in loans and another 919 from the University of Dodoma who apparently received TSh 2.5bn. Both universities have reported that they had no record of the students.

The audit also found serious weaknesses in HESLB’s procedures for recovering loans from graduated students. Over 100,000 students with loans taken out since 1994 have not begun to repay the loans.

Primary school enrolment soars
President Magufuli announced that the response to the abolishment of school fees had been a massive increase in enrolment, stating that pupil enrolment in Standard 1 has soared from 1,282,000 in 2015 to 1,896,584 pupils in 2016. He reiterated the government’s intention to offer free and quality education to all Tanzanian children, stressing that his administration would make sure that the goal is achieved.

He made the announcement while handing over 60,000 desks to MPs, paid for by the National Assembly reducing its expenditure for four months. He also noted that the rise in enrolment raised new challenges for the sector, notably a shortage of 1,400,000 desks, as well as shortages of classrooms and staff houses.

“It is quite clear that there are many challenges facing the education sector. We are doing everything in our power to resolve them,” he said.

Foundations initiative bears fruit
A new study found that basic Kiswahili literacy among Standard 2 and 3 primary school pupils has improved over the last three years. A pre­liminary report of the National Early Grade Reading Assessment found that targets set for 2015 under the “Big Results Now” initiative had been “met and surpassed”.

The aim was to reduce the number of pupils scoring zero on word read­ing to 26%, and this target was exceeded with only 18% scoring zero in the recent tests. On oral reading fluency, only 16% of pupils scored zero, significantly better than the target of 26%. Similarly, in reading comprehension, only 26% scored zero against the 37% target.


by Ben Taylor

School fees abolishment – popular but problematic
A new survey by Twaweza, a non-governmental organisation, has found that the abolishment of school fees and related parental contributions is a highly popular move. In their regular Sauti za Wananchi (Voices of the People) panel survey, Twaweza found that 76% of citizens believe that making education free will improve quality. Further, 88% were confident that the new policy would be implemented on time.

Nevertheless, a significant minority (15%) expressed concern that free education will lead to a surge in enrolment that will stretch resources and lead to a decline in the quality of schooling.

This concern would appear to be born out, at least in part, but evidence from primary schools across the country when the new school-year started in January. The Citizen newspaper reported that enrolment in Standard One had tripled in some schools. One school in Dar es Salaam previously enrolled 250-300 pupils per year, and had planned for around 400 this year anticipating the effect of the school fees’ abolishment, but found itself enrolling over 600 pupils. The school has been forced to cram over 150 pupils into each of four Standard One classrooms. The paper reported similar situations in primary schools nationwide.

Mr George Simbachawene, Minister in the President’s Office for Regional Administration and Local Government, said he had directed all district and regional commissioners to fast-track construction of new classrooms to address local shortages.

Earlier, the government disbursed TSh 18bn (approx. £6m) to schools across the country, as part of TSh 137bn set aside by the government to implement the free education promise, covering the first six months. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa stated that the government had calculated the amount needed and was comfortable that it could afford the cost of providing free education.

As part of the new policy, the government has promised to cover examination fees and has abolished parental contributions towards school expenses. Parents are still required to cover some costs, including the purchase of school uniforms, exercise books and pens, and medical expenses.

The same Twaweza survey found that nine out of ten parents reported previously paying contributions to school running costs, including school security, tests and desks. 80% reported that this came to under TSh 50,000 per year, while 8% reported that it added up to over TSh 100,000. Half the parents surveyed (49%) said they didn’t think schools were using these contributions for the correct purposes, with many suggesting it was used instead to supplement teachers’ income.

When asked to advise the government on how to best improve the quality of education, 82% focussed on teacher-related issues. This group was split between those who said the main focus should be on monitoring teacher performance (40%) and those who said improving teachers’ pay and conditions should be the priority (32%).

Form Four (O-level) results show small decline
The National Examinations Council released Form Four (O-level) results for students who took the exams late in 2015. The results showed a slight decline in the pass rate, from 70% of students passing in the previous year to 68% this year. Only 25% achieved divisions one to three.

Mathematics had the lowest pass rate by some distance, with only 17% of candidates who attempted the subject passing, down from 20% in 2014. Kiswahili had the highest pass rate after 78% per cent of candidates passed, up from 70% the previous year.

The Minister of Education, Prof. Joyce Ndalichako, said she was not impressed with the results. She was reported as saying that for many years government-run schools had been performing badly.

The Minister said she would begin by inviting head teachers based in Dar es Salaam to a meeting to discuss how the region could set standards for performance.

HakiElimu programme manager for Research and Analysis, Mr Godfrey Bonaventura, argued that ward schools were the places where most of the division fours and failures were produced, so the Minister needed to give them a special focus. He said the schools started taking in students even before they were complete.

“A decade ago, when ward level secondary schools were established, what mattered then was seeing to it that the schools had classrooms, some teachers, toilets and students. But that is not all it takes to provide quality education. A simple visit to such a school today will reveal a sad reality as buildings are in a poor state, they are ill-equipped and staff are demoralised. It’s sad.”

He challenged the government to increase funding in the Education sector, saying the focus should not only be on urban-centred schools but even those in remote areas.

Official data shows that Standard Seven national examination pass average declined from 54% in 2007 to 31% in 2012. Form Four national examination pass rate declined from 90% in 2007 to 43% in 2012, before rising sharply when new grading systems were introduced.

New exam scoring system abandoned
The grade point average (GPA) system, introduced in 2014, will no longer be used to score candidates in O-level and A-level examinations. Instead, the previous “division” system will be reintroduced. This was announced by the Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Prof. Joyce Ndalichako. The Minister said the decision was based on the failure of the National Examinations Council, NECTA, to justify the GPA system. She said many stakeholders did not understand the GPA scores.

Prof. Ndalichako added that the shift to GPA appeared to have resulted in a lowering of the cut-off point for passing exams, leading to many students appearing to have performed better than was truly the case. The move was applauded by education sector specialists, many of whom focussed on how the introduction of GPA had been used to cover up a lowering of standards.

HakiElimu acting director Godfrey Bonaventura said that the GPA grading system was unjustifiable. “We’ve many challenges in the sector that need to be addressed, scheming to hide the declining quality of education through adopting a new grading system without justification was wrong,” he said.

Professor Issa Omari of the Open University of Tanzania said that in some ways the debate was academic, as the GPA and division systems were entirely interchangeable, but that he supported the Minister’s move on the grounds that the division system was well understood by stakeholders in Tanzania.

Prof. Omari emphasised that the key point was the cut-off points for passing examinations, and criticised the previous administration for lowering the standards required for a pass. “We are cheating ourselves and the public by playing around with cut-off points, as students will have a hard time out there in the world of work,” he said.

Executive Secretary of NECTA, Dr Charles Msonde, appealed to education stakeholders to continue working with Necta and advising it, saying this would help the council to improve its performance. He said he welcomed feedback from stakeholders as part of efforts to bring about positive and desirable change in the education sector in general.

Delivering better outcomes in education – what works?
A newly published study by Twaweza has investigated alternative approaches to improving learning outcomes in Tanzania.

The organisation compared students’ learning outcomes between four different interventions: one in which they provided schools with extra resources through capitation (per-pupil) grants, one in which they provided teachers with a bonus based on the performance of their students in an externally administered exam, one in which schools received both programs, and the control group which received no support.

The study was conducted as a randomised controlled trial (RCT), in 350 government-run primary schools in ten districts of Tanzania between 2013 and 2014. The study found that improving delivery of inputs (funding) to schools had no significant impact on learning outcomes, and nor did providing bonus payments to teachers. However, in schools where both interventions were implemented concurrently, there was a significant positive impact on learning outcomes.

The research, known as KiuFunza (Thirst for Learning), was carried out in partnership with Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), a US-based research organisation.


by Ben Taylor

Free basic education
Earlier in 2015, a new national education policy was launched, including a commitment that from January 2016, basic education from Standard 1 to Form 4 would become compulsory and would be provided free of charge. This became a major campaign promise in the presidential campaign of the CCM candidate, Dr John Magufuli.

With President Magufuli now in office and showing a new level of commitment to efficiency and good governance, fulfilling the promise of free basic education will be an early test for the new administration.

In particular, the pledge covers both school fees and the contributions (“michango”) demanded of pupils and parents towards building maintenance, desks, examinations, watchmen, and other school running costs. Typically, while school fees may be only TSh 20,000 per year, these other compulsory contributions could be as high as TSh 300,000. “When I say free education, I indeed mean free,” said President Magufuli at the official opening of parliament.

The Ministry of Education has issued a directive to all government schools forbidding them from asking for fees or contributions from pupils and their parents. Circular No.5 specified that “provision of free education means pupils or students will not pay any fee or other contributions that were being provided by parents or guardians before the release of new circular.”

President Magufuli spoke publicly to reassure parents and schools that funds would be available, saying the government had already been making savings elsewhere that would cover the cost.

“The funds for providing free education are being set aside, already we have TSh 131bn. We have planned to transfer these funds directly to all the relevant schools, with copies sent to the Regional and District Commissioners, and to the council Director. This is why we say they will study for free. All the money for capitation grants, money for chalk, money for examinations, money for everything, we are sending it. We will send it each month starting this December. Money for food. I am certain that those being sent the money will use it well, I warn them not to use it badly.”

There are currently just over 10 million children in government primary and secondary schools, according to Zuberi Samataba, the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Education) in the Ministry for Regional Administration and Local Government. Anecdotal reports in the media suggests there is likely to be a significant increase in this number in January, when parents see that fees and contributions have truly been abolished. (The Citizen, The Guardian, BBC)

Pressure on private schools over fees

The government has also been putting pressure on private schools over the fees they charge. A circular (no. 6) was issued requiring all private school operators to submit by December 16th their proposed fees for 2016 for review and approval by government. The schools have also been barred from any fee increases in 2016.

Private schools have warned that they will be forced to close if the government prevents them from setting fees that cover their costs. The Tanzania Association of Non-Government Schools and Colleges said that they would not accept any fee structure if they were not involved in its preparation.

However, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Prof Sifuni Mchome, said the government will not bar private schools from increasing fees if they have justifiable reasons. He noted that it has been a tradition of private schools to increase fees at the end of every year without justification. (The Citizen, The East African)

Primary School leaving exam results up
Publication of Primary School leaving exam results saw an increase in the pass rate, up from 57% in 2014 to 68% in 2015. A total of 518,034 pupils passed the exams, out of 763,602 who sat them. The pass rate among boys (72%) was a little higher than for girls (65%).(The Citizen)