You are here

EPDC Spotlight on Tanzania


The EPDC Data Points blog is continuing with its country spotlight series, highlighting a different country and the resources we offer, such as data, country profiles, research or other tools that users have available to them through the website. In this post we highlight data resources we have for Tanzania.

Tanzania is a country in East Africa with a population of 49.25 million, which has been designated as low-income by the World Bank. Christianity and Islam combined make up the bulk of the religious landscape in Tanzania. Six out of ten people are Christian, while Muslims account for over 30 percent of the population. In Tanzania, educating the roughly 65 percent of the population below the age of 25 can be challenging given the linguistic and religious diversity. While over 100 different languages are spoken, Kiswahili and English are official languages and used for instruction in primary and secondary schools respectively.

Students begin their primary education at age seven, and complete 7 levels from Standard I to Standard VII in seven years. Primary education in Tanzania is compulsory and tuition in public schools was eliminated in 2012.

Secondary education in Tanzania has two levels made up of a four-year lower secondary and a two year upper secondary cycle. Students passing the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) are eligible to attend lower secondary school at ordinary level ranging from Form 1 to Form 4. Selected students can attend secondary school at advanced level, Form 5 and Form 6. 

Schooling System

Students in Tanzania sit for national examinations at the end of their Standard IIV of primary education, as well as Form 4 and Form 6 of secondary education.

After completing 7 years of primary education, students sit for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). PSLE is conducted annually by the National Examination council of Tanzania in five subjects, including Mathematics, English, Science, social studies and Kiswahili.  

To pursue advanced level of secondary education, students finishing lower secondary level must obtain a Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (CSEE), which requires them to demonstrate their mastery of civics, Kiswahili, foreign language, mathematic, social science, natural science and home economics, as detailed in EPDC’s National Learning Assessments Mapping project. Subjects of CSEE correspond to 4 of the 7 domains recommended by the Learning Metrics Task Force (LMTF) as important for assessing student progress.  

Students completing the advanced level of secondary education are eligible to obtain an Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (ACSEE), and those passing ACSEE might be selected to enroll in colleges or university for higher education.    

Learning outcomes

Literacy rates are one way of assessing the learning levels of a population. According to EPDC’s data sources and EPDC National Education Profile for Tanzania, regarding the literate population above age 15, Tanzania performed well among all low-income countries. Literacy rates for those above age 15 in Tanzania are higher than the median for low-income countries, especially those for females. Although having a relatively large population across age groups, the literacy rate of youth in Tanzania is relatively lower. Figure 1 demonstrates that compared to the median of literacy rate in low-income countries (70% and 47% for male and female respectively), Tanzanians in the age group 15-24 rank at about the average.

Figure 1 Literacy Rate for Youth And Adult Population 

Learning outcomes can also be measured by a student’s capability in reading and mathematic assessment scores. Among three East African countries, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, Tanzanian students scored the highest in both reading and mathematic ability according to the 2007 SACMEQ assessment (figure 2). More data regarding learning outcomes in Tanzania can be found in the EPDC database, and diverse graphics with different indicators are available by searching for the most recent SACMEQ and UWEZO datasets and utilizing the visualization feature.  

Figure 2 Reading and Mathematic Assessment Average Score by Country   

Out of school children

According to the Demographic and Health Survey conducted in Tanzania at 2010, 19 percent of school children ages 7-14 are out of school, with no obvious difference between males (20%) and females (19%). However, disparity exists between the type of residences and socioeconomic status. Geographically speaking, western Tanzania has the highest out of school rate. Compared to children ages 7-14 in urban areas (10%), more children in rural areas (22%)  are out of school. Additionally, socioeconomic status remains a major factor leading to disparity in out of school rates. Out of school percentages range from a high of 31 percent in the poorest quintile to a low of 8 percent in the richest quintile. More findings of out of school children in Tanzania can be found in the EPDC’s Out of School Children Profile which includes district-level information in Tanzania, and comparisons of rates among East African countries and other indicators.   

Other education data

According to EPDC’s data sources and National Education Profile for Tanzania, a large gap exists between education access and quality. Although Tanzania was ranked at the 88th percentile in access compared to other low and middle income countries, the literacy rate ranked at the 21st percentile. It suggests that other than providing enough and affordable schooling programs, Tanzania also needs to address the quality of education.   

Additionally, Tanzania made great progress on achieving universal primary education, which is one objective of the Millennium Development Goals set to be accomplished before 2015. EPDC Projections for Tanzania estimate the gross intake rate into primary education will reach 100 percent in 2015 for both genders, up from 87 percent in 2000. However, rising slowly from 2011, the primary completion rate is only expected to reach 78 percent for males and 90 percent for females, which also indicates a gender gap in primary education completion.

The same situation is also seen at the secondary education level. The transition rate to lower secondary education is expected to range 80-90% for both males and females, which is an increase of 400% compared to the rate in 2000. With great strides made in terms of access to secondary education, however, the completion rate still has room for improvement. Nearly five in ten students in secondary school can not complete their education. This suggests that along with creating universal access in both primary and secondary education, Tanzania also needs to focus on how to ensure students finish educational cycles once bringing them into schools.   

The relative low completion rate in Tanzania might be related to its school participation because students are less likely to complete education if they did not attend school consistently. In addition, it is almost impossible for teachers to maintain the teaching quality if large numbers of students are absent frequently. Showing DHS data, figure 3 indicates that the net attendance rate at the primary level in 2010 is 80.6% for Tanzania, However, this number ranges from 66.5 in Tabora, to 91.8 in Town West, indicating the massive geographic disparity among subnational regions. This finding indicates that some districts in Tanzania, especially the northwest, face a challenge in having children attend school on a regular basis.

Figure 3 Net Attendance Rate at Primary Education in Tanzania by Subnational Level

Most vulnerable children

Child vulnerability affects access to education and attendance. As a country with a high net enrollment rate among East African countries, Tanzania assures orphan’s access to education by extending the family safety net, a program combined with government and donor support to provide support for orphans. However, there are nuances behind the relative equality. In primary education, out of school rates of orphans and non-orphans range from 15% to 20%; in secondary education, a large difference exists between single orphans (55%) and non-orphans (45%). Abolition of tuition at the primary level in 2012 might partially explain the smaller gap, while the gap at the secondary level suggests that more attention toward older orphans is needed in order to improve their educational disadvantage.       

Early marriage is common and remains a traditional practice in Tanzania. According a report from CDC and UNICEF, “Violence Against Children in Tanzania”, 9 percent of Tanzanian females were married before 18. Among those who were married at an early age, nearly three in every ten were married before the ages of 14 or 15. Those who got married at an early age might face the challenge of finishing school because of economic burdens or other opportunity costs. By analyzing DHS data for Tanzania (2010), EPDC’s report, “Most Vulnerable Children in Tanzania”, found that children with early marriage (marriage before the age of 18) suffered a higher possibility of being out of school than unmarried children, and this educational disadvantage is greater for females than for males. Out of school rates are as high as 97 percent for married girls of secondary school age, compared to 50 percent out of school rates for unmarried girls at the same age. The difference for male with early marriage is smaller but still significant, while out of school rates are 73 and 46 percent for married and unmarried boys respectively. This finding points to the fact that prevalence of early marriage in Tanzania stands in the way of achieving education equality.

More comprehensive discussion and data analysis about vulnerable children in Tanzania can be found in EPDC’s 2012 publication “ Most Vulnerable Children in Tanzania” which includes other research findings on child vulnerability and policy implications. 

EPDC Resources

Among other data sources, unique EPDC data collections for Tanzania include administrative data from the Ministry of Education & Vocational Training (2001 - 2010), household survey data from DHS (2003, 2004, 2010, 2012), Budget Survey (2000), indicators derived from UIS data, and learning outcomes data including SACMEQ (2007) and UWEZO (2010, 2011). 




Add new comment