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Tanzania Country Liaison

Fortidas Bakuza
Kate McAlpine, Caucus for Children's Rights
Rosemary Olive Mbone Enie


Last updated December 2016 by Rosemary Olive Mbone Enie

Promoting Early Childhood Development and Education in Tanzania’s Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda

Children must be central to Tanzania’s sustainable development. The early years of life are crucial to establishing a sound foundation for cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development for the rest of their lives. Events in the first few years of life are formative and play a vital role in shaping social, emotional, learning, and health outcomes and in building human capital, thereby promoting economic productivity later in life.

One of the key areas of early childhood development and education (ECDE) programming is to support sustainability education as a pillar for access to quality child care for Tanzanian children. This becomes increasingly pertinent in the context of sustainable development beyond 2015 and reaching the most marginalized. Given the growth in female employment and the need to have both parents working in case of poverty, one or both parents may be engaged in the informal sectors of the economy without the benefit of paternal or maternal leave. For the vast majority of poor parents working in the informal sector, access to quality child care services is critical. In the absence of quality child care, a poor family faces the difficult choice of either one parent leaving employment that the much-needed income or both parents continuing to work while leaving the young child home alone or with inadequate care, sometimes with an older sibling who may be under age 10. Such circumstances have been associated with not only sub-optimal development of the children themselves, but also the older siblings dropping out of school and safety concerns regarding accidents and even fatalities.

ECDE programs at the ward/district level can do much to improve outcomes for child health, nutrition, learning, and development in marginalized and disadvantaged communities. Children’s learning outcomes will in turn improve academic achievements and would lower school drop-out rates. Children who will take part in ECDE programs will also have better health and nutritional outcomes throughout their lifetimes and become productive members of society. ECDE can contribute not only to human capital development, but also to economic and social development of Tanzania

In the face of increasing conflict, ECDE will be considered an entry point for peace-building in communities. Moreover, good early learning programs can help build resilience of children and families, especially within emergency and fragile contexts.

Through sustainability education, children will learn love for their total environment, developed during the early years. Early childhood pedagogues would also build a life-long, outcomes-based appreciation for the environment t. Work toward environmental sustainability must include ECDE and must promote early childhood involvement, hence the main objective of the Tunza Afrika Program to engage and support young people in addressing water, environment, energy, food, science, and technology issues within the formal and non-formal educational sectors across Africa.

Salama Heritage Ecovillage (SHE) Tanzania, a Tanzanian-based NGO that promotes sustainable livelihoods, sustainable development, and resilient community building in Tanzania, will model the ECDE Program in two Districts of Tanzania:

1.     Bagamoyo District Council, Pwani (Coastal) Region of Tanzania (dominant Swahili culture)
2.     Monduli District Council, Arusha (Northern) Region of Tanzania (dominant Maasai culture)

These two models will provide the basis for expansion of this program across the 26 regions of Tanzania.

The ECDE Program will also address at the following areas:

  • Why ECDE in Tanzania?
  • What is the evidence for ECDE investment in Tanzania?
  • What are the ECDE monitoring tools in Tanzania?
  • What ECDE research and evaluation methods have or can be put in place in Tanzania?
  • How can we ensure the effective role of ECDE in supporting the SDGs in Tanzania?

We shall also be developing key partnership with public/ private institutions and organizations across Tanzania through the development of a five-year strategic plan (2017-2021).

For more information:

Salama Heritage Ecovillage (SHE):

Tunza Afrika Program (TAP):

Last updated March 2016 by Kate McAlpine

In Tanzania, we continue to live off the glory of Education for All. Access to basic education has improved dramatically since fees for education were removed in 2001. Net enrollment in primary school is high, at 94%. But too many children remain hidden from the education system. We are missing the opportunity to invest in pre-primary; only 42.4% of children are accessing that service. 489,673 children remain out of school, and only 0.35% of children with disabilities go to school. Notable gender and regional inequalities remain. For example, 70% of all girls in the Shinyanga and Kigoma regions fail their primary school leaving examination (Education Sector Performance Report 2010-2011).

Children may be in school, but not all children are learning (HakiElimu, 2014). The quality of education provision remains poor and learning outcomes are shocking. The primary school completion rate is only 62%, and only 53.5% of candidates pass the primary school leaving examination. The pupil-textbook ratio at the primary level is 5:1. There are an average of 66 children per classroom, and a pupil teacher ratio of 49:1.

Violence against children is common in Tanzania (Brookmeyer et al., 2011)

  • Nearly 30% of girls and 14% of boys report that they have experienced sexual violence.
  • Almost 7% of girls and boys said they have experienced physical violence at the hand of an adult or an intimate partner.
  • 25% of children have been victims of emotional violence from adults.
  • Approximately 15% of females who experienced sexual violence reported that the perpetrator was an authority figure, the majority of whom were male teachers.

In a recent analysis of the law in relation to child protection in schools and its practice (McAlpine, 2015), young people reported that school is a place of fear. They spoke of feeling anxiety and unhappiness at school. Some of the children said that they were fearful, unhappy, or didn’t like the environment. But they also said that school is a place of safety. When asked on a scale of 1-10 how safe the school was, they said it was a 5. They explained that they feel safe because, “There are watchmen who care for us, we live in peace.” “School makes me happy as it builds humans.” “The community surrounding us makes it safe at the school.” “Tunaishi na usalama” [We live in peace].

Because learning outcomes in schools are so poor, civil society organizations have put forth considerable effort to understand how teachers are teaching (HakiElimu, 2014). The evidence indicates need for improvement. For example, lesson plans are only used in 55% of lessons. Importantly, the public school environment does not motivate teachers. Increasingly, middle class parents are sending their children to private schools that have their own standards and select students based on ability to pay and capability. The result is that the public school system is experiencing a brain drain of teachers and students, and so inequity is further perpetuated.

So what is happening to address this situation?

Big Results Now is a high-level government initiative that has made education one of six national priorities for remedial action. The focus is on improving access to quality education, with the basic assumption that improved education will be reflected in increasing exam pass rates. Schools are rated based on exam performance, with the idea that transparency around their quality will promote accountability and demand from the community for school improvement.

Interventions to improve school performance include:

  • Whole district development planning with a view to enhancing management and leadership
  • Implementation of quality standards in schools
  • In-service and pre-service teacher training
  • The development of quality pre-primary education
  • Advocacy for investment in developing an integrated early childhood development resource pack
  • Development of preschool models.

Nationally, there is a real focus on using civil society and donor partners to develop, pilot, and test models for school improvement that subsequently can be rolled out nationally. The exact modalities for delivering, financing, and scaling these interventions are largely still a work in progress.

Personally, I have been involved in a number of education-focused initiatives in 2015. These include:

  • An analysis for African Initiatives ( of the legislation, responsibilities, and procedures for protecting children in Tanzania and their implications for people wanting to build safe schools
  • Facilitating the design of a sports initiative for youth in Arusha city for Yes Tanzania (
  • Working with Children in Crossfire ( and their Fursa kwa Watoto program, which models and tests pre-primary interventions
  • Leading the Caucus for Children’s Rights (, where we are designing and prototyping an 8-week intervention that supports young people in Tanzania in finding their voice, navigating the complexities of being a young person in a changing society, and making healthy choices.

For more information:
The World Bank. (2014). How Tanzania Plans To Achieve "Big Results Now" in Education. Read the article here.
Aga Khan University, Dar es Salaam:
Haki Elimu: