Education & Jobs

Primary focus

In 2002, the Tanzanian government introduced free primary education, with funding from international bodies. This raised the number of children enrolled at primary school to nearly 100%.

The national language

Primary school lasts for seven years from the age of six/seven). Pupils are taught in the national language of Swahili.

New schools and classrooms were built to cope with the large rise in numbers. But teachers are in short supply. Therefore it’s not uncommon for classes to have more than 50 pupils.

Even though there are no school fees, some families struggle to afford the extra costs of books and uniforms. Poorer children, particularly in rural areas, often stop attending during difficult times.

  • A science class in Tanzania
  • Halfway through a spelling lesson

Secondary drop-off

The fortunate minority

Only around 1 in 10 children are able to go onto secondary school. These are the lucky ones, because their families can afford to pay the fees, which cost over 200 dollars each year.

Secondary schooling starts at the age of 14 and lasts for four years. While many children pass their primary leaving exam and qualify for secondary school, the cost of fees makes it prohibitive for poorer families.

At secondary level, classes are mostly held in English. This has been learnt at primary school. But many children still find the transition from Swahili to English quite difficult.

Vocational and further studies

Informal jobs

Without the right qualifications, finding jobs in the formal sectors is hard. Many young Tanzanians turn to informal work, such as selling goods at market.

The lucky few who complete their four years of secondary schooling can apply to university. However, currently, universities and colleges cannot supply enough places for the demand. There is also a shortage of courses for providing vocational skills.

Many jobs in Tanzania revolve around agriculture, though other industries such as mining are growing in importance.

The growth of the tourism industry – see Tourism & Communications – also means there is a rising demand for people to work in the services industry, such as in restaurants and hotels.

Business leaders in Tanzania have highlighted the need for the expansion of vocational training and also for a better focus of school education on practical skills.