SINCE independence from Britain in 1961 to the present, Tanzania has made strides in developing national policies to widen the educational opportunities for her people.
Departed President John Magufuli has also contributed immensely to the development of the sector during his five-and-a-half years in power. In 1963, for the first time Tanzania attempted to offer fee-free education (FFE) that reduced enrolment disparity between children from rich and poor households.
Hence, the government financed the education system and provided free primary to university education. However, the 1980s global economic crisis influenced free education provision and costsharing education policy was re-introduced in the 1990s.
Thereafter, in 2001 the fees at primary education were abolished following the implementation of the Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP), which aimed to improve access and quality of education in the country. Parents were required by each school to meet some necessary contributions and costs including textbooks, uniforms, and school operational charges.
For example, in 2004, the fees for secondary schools day students were reduced from 40,000/- to 20,000/- and 70,000/- for boarding ones. In whichever way, the concept of fee-free education and fee reduction aims at increasing access and enrolment in education.
According to a report by Hakielimu published in 2017, the new Education and Training Policy version of 2014 extends the removal of fees from primary to lower secondary education - Basic Education. The policy has been put into action following the Education Circulars (number 5 and 6 of 2015 and 6 of 2016) which directed the implementation of fee-free Basic Education (FFBE) implementation in Tanzania.
It further read that, the circulars made clear that the government is financing textbooks, lab chemicals and equipment, furniture, sports gear, repair of machines, construction and repair of school infrastructures, provision of meals in boarding schools and subsidies to each student.
Parents are obliged to bear costs of school uniforms, sports gear, exercise books, pay medical, and meals expenses for day students, pay travel charges, buy mattresses and bed covers as well as personal hygiene properties for residential students of government schools.
Provision of free basic education was among many pledges made by ex-President Magufuli in the 2015 General Election campaigns. He promised to waive school fees and other contributions for primary and secondary education if elected the fifth President of Tanzania.
Since the introduction of the free education policy five years ago, Tanzania has recorded tremendous achievements signalling that in the next few years, the country may be among the top countries in the globe on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Primary and Secondary education As of February 2021, the government had spent about 1.291tril/-, which have increased school enrolment in primary school from 1,386,592 in 2015 to about 1,557,453 in 2020. The initiative has increased primary school enrollment from 8,298,282 in 2015 to 10,925,896 pupils in 2020 while form four pass rate increased from 68 per cent in 2015 to 85.8 per cent in 2020 and form six increased from 97 per cent to 99.51 per cent.
Dr Hassan Abbasi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports said with free basic education, the number of pupils who have so far received primary education had increased from 8,298,282 in 2015 to about 10,925,896 in 2020. Under his leadership, standard one enrolment has increased from 1,386,592 in 2015 to 1,557,453 in 2020.
The number of students in secondary schools has increased from 1,648,359 in 2015 to 2,185,037 in 2020 and the number of students joining form five has increased from 66,090 in 2015 to 74,478 in 2020. A total of 37,820 educational materials and support materials for special needs students in 1,305 schools (primary 1,260 and secondary 45) have been distributed.
The government has printed and distributed 4,443,586 copies of textbooks for all standard seven subjects in a ratio of 1:2 to students, and 253,408 copies of Teacher Guide books for standard seven in all Councils in the country.
During his tenure, the government has also printed and distributed 45,671 copies of the standard one to seven curricula and 319,697 copies of the standard one to seven syllabi in all Councils in the country. To enhance learning for students with special needs, under the leadership of late Dr Magufuli 40,802 copies of textbooks for students with special needs for the blind and virtual impairment have been issued.
These books are the ones with braille. Another milestone recorded is the printing of 17 textbooks to form one to four students. Currently, the Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE) is implementing a book preparation process based on the needs of private and government schools at the same time.
Higher Education The government of the late Dr Magufuli increased loans to students of higher learning institutions from 125,126 students in 2015 to 142,179 as of February 2021 and that for the past five years; the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) spent a total of 2.82tril/- in students’ loans.
Student Loans have increased from 341bn/- in 2014/15 to 462bn/- in 2020/21. The total amount spent on loans for Higher Education students from 2015 to 2021 is 2.82tril/-.
Vocational Educational and Training The late president Magufuli government’s initiative and efforts of improving Vocational Educational and Training Authority (VETA) has enabled the country to have a skilled labour force, especially with the current industrialisation focus.
Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE), Senior Lecturer Dr Joviter Katabaro said the government’s initiative is important for the future, especially for the needs of the youth who most graduate their secondary education without any skills; while employment has decreased in the formal sector.
“Youth graduating from secondary schools need to do so with some acquired skills needed in production activities. The government’s move to improve VETA is perfect in preparing youths to cope with industrialisation; as it is creating a competent generation of the skilled labour force that can create self-employment or be employed,” he stated.
The government’s initiative of constructing more VETA centres is aimed at supporting the country’s industrialisation drive by creating adequate skilled labour, he emphasized. Dr Magufuli once pointed out that, with a sufficient number of vocational training colleges across the country, Tanzania will be able to feed all the factories with a skilled and competent labour force.
“For us to achieve industrialisation, we need to invest more in vocational training colleges and this is what the government is doing, and we shall maintain the spirit,” he said while inaugurating the VETA centre at Bukoba.
Right now, there are 712 vocational training colleges across the country, up from 672 that were recorded in 2015 and 62 of them are owned by the government of which 20 serve the regional level and the remaining 42 are at the district level. More than 226,767 students have been admitted for vocational training in the country.
This is an increase from 96,697 students, who were admitted for studies in 2015. Currently, government-owned colleges have a total of 56,400 students. Late Dr Magufuli administration has embraced industrialisation as part of the panacea for unemployment among the youths, as a sufficient number of factories guarantees job opportunities for locals.
Under his administration, constructions of more than 33 VETA centres are among the achievements recorded, four are regional and 29 at the district level, intending to have at least one college in each district countrywide.