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Tanzania -- Education

Education played an important role in the reforms that Nyerere proposed after independence. Nyerere saw education as closely tied to social commitment. He believed that it should encourage both self reliance and cooperation with others.

The system proposed by Nyerere broke rather sharply with colonial programs of education in several respects. Unlike many African nations, Tanzania placed great emphasis on practical aspects of education. Agriculture, commerce, home economics, and technical and scientific subjects have a central role in secondary school curricula. Schooling at each level was to be complete in itself rather than a preparation for the next level. During the first years after independence a majority of teachers in Tanzania were expatriates. These have been rapidly replaced by Tanzanians.

According to Nyerere's system, students were to be prepared not primarily for examinations, but for the agricultural life to which most of them would return. Farming workshops, where modern methods are taught in spite of the simplicity of available tools, have become an important part of the process of education. Students are expected to participate in housekeeping and administrative tasks as a means of learning responsibilityand cooperation. Primary and secondary school students in towns must work in nearby villages to solidify the links between urban and rural people. During vacations, students in higher education are expected to participate in practical projects related to their field of study; failure to participate brings lower grades.

Since independence, the Tanzanian government has allocated about 20% of its budget to education. In November 1977, TANU inaugurated a program of obligatory universal primary education. Villagers helped build the new schools. Three years later, nearly all seven-year olds had entered the school system (3.6 million, or more than seven times the number at independence). About 7.7% of those who graduated from primary school (estimated to be 10,000, 32% of them women) entered vocational training programs each year. In 1985, primary school enrollment reached 72%. Secondary school enrollment had tripled by 1975, and reached 180,899 in 1993; an additional 15,824 students were at teacher training colleges. Comparable improvements in university-level education have also occurred. In 1975, there were more than 3,000 students at the University of Dar es Salaam, a dramatic increase over the enrollment at independence. By 1993, there were 5,500 university-level students. The government of Tanzania has placed great importance on the expansion of adult education. A pilot scheme began at Mwanza in 1968. A broader campaign followed, assisted by UNESCO. These programs sought not only to promote skills, like literacy in Swahili, but also were directed at "consciousness raising," including principles of hygiene, agricultural techniques, crafts, basic mathematics, and the principles of UJAMAA. By 1971 about 75,000 adults were participating in these courses. This number increased to about 3 million within two years. In 1973, the government made worker education compulsory. As a result, literacy among adult men in 1984 reached 75%, well above the African average of 48%. The literacy rate has since gone down [1] .

As one would expect, Tanzania's achievements in education have not survived the country's economic difficulties unscathed. Social services, including education, have suffered from shortages of financial resources, and some enrollments have declined.

[1] Kaplan, Irving, ed. 1978. Tanzania, A Country Study, Foreign Area Studies, American University: Washington D.C.

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