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The Background And Education System Of Tanzania Education Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 5482 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Tanzania is on the course to accomplish the UN declaration for education for all and Millennium Development Goals related to education of free primary education for all children by 2015. This has been come true through successful implementation of Primary Education Development Program (PEDP) started in 2001. It had achieved to record the gross enrolment rate (GER) of 106.4 percent and net enrolment rate of 95.4 (NER) percent in 2010 and the possibilities to reach 100 percent by 2015 is obvious. But this remarkable achievement focus only on the quantitative performance, there is a need to think about the quality of education. Education does not mean only a lot of children going to school and finish classes; it means more than that like creating skilled labour force that has the capacity to increase productivity in the country’s economy.

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Therefore to achieve the quality of education, the most important determinant to consider is the teacher. Teacher plays a prime role to ensure teaching and learning process meet the desirable outcomes; since they’re source of knowledge, skills, wisdom, appropriate orientation and role models for the students. However, in developing countries, including Tanzania still teachers facing a number of challenges which significantly harm the quality of education. Low and irregular salary payments, poor working conditions, low status and limited opportunities for professional development are some of the issues impeding teachers to perform their duties wholeheartedly as a results deteriorating of education quality.

This paper will attempt to address the challenges facing the teachers in public schools. Specifically, the focus will be on the challenges of public school teachers and its implications to the quality of education in Tanzania. Finally to suggest the appropriate mechanism and policy measures to be employed so as to achieve the desirable objectives of education.


1.1: Background.

Education is a cornerstone for development in any society. It is the source of skills, knowledge, technology and new innovations essential for socio-economic development in a country. Thus, for a country to achieve rapid and shared growth, investment in education is very important. Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” [1] 

Teaching is a very important input in the education process. Likewise, the teacher is the heart of classroom instruction (Komba & Nkumbi, 2008). In any education system the availability and quality of the teaching force is an indication of the quality of that system (Sumra, 2006). In most of developing countries, including Tanzania, education means teacher due to the fact that other essential learning facilities such as textbooks, visual aids and other learning materials are limited. Thus teachers play a big role as source of knowledge, skills, wisdom, appropriate orientation and role models for the students. Therefore the quality of education delivered highly depends on the competence and qualification of the teachers.

Since Tanzania gained independence in 1961, the government declared illiteracy as a one of the national enemies; others were disease and poverty. To address this problem the government introduced a national campaign known as Universal Primary Education (UPE). The main objective was to ensure every child gets access to at least primary education which was provided free by the government. In the early eighties Tanzania recorded remarkable achievements in education after becoming one of the countries with a high literacy rate of about 80% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

However, in the late eighties and nineties Tanzania’s education system experienced a number of challenges due to economic hardship and increasing population. This affects ability of the government to provide free social services including education. This situation led to major reforms in the education system including allowing the private sector to provide education services alongside the government. Also, the government introduced school fees to the public schools, colleges and universities.

Furthermore, in 2001 the government implemented five years Primary Education Development Program (PEDP) [2] intended to make primary education accessible to all children. This program was intended to increase enrolment, construction of classrooms, and recruitment of more teachers to ensure availability of teaching and learning materials in the public schools as well as provision of training to teachers. But in recent years the education sector in Tanzania has experienced a number of shortcomings, especially in meeting the required standards for the existing labor market. Many reasons have been raised as responsible for this situation, but it seems the fundamental causes to be concerned with are poor teaching and shortage of human capital deployed in public schools.

1.2: Statement of the Problem.

Tanzania is about to achieve United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of attaining universal primary education; but still there are many questions about the quality of education if it will lays a ground base for achieving the economic growth. There are arguments on the quality of education offered. The government has been accused of put more efforts on enrolment expansion, construction of classrooms and ignore other keys factors like teaching, which contributes to a large extent on the quality of education to be delivered.

The statistics shows that, the gross enrolment ratio (GER) increased from 77.6 to 112.7 percent between 2000 and 2009; similarly the net enrolment ratio (NER) rose from 54.2 percent to 97.2 percent in the same period. In secondary education following the implementation of SEDP started in 2004, where the GER increased from 10.2 percent in 2003 to 34.0 percent in 2010 and the NER rose from 6.9 percent to 29.9 percent in the same period (UN Report, 2011; UWEZO, 2011). But this shows one side of the coin ‘quantitative performance’ how about the other side ‘qualitative performance’? There is a need to think about the quality of education which can help people to cope with developmental challenges happen over time.

Experiences and researches shows the quality of education has been deteriorating over time. Disparities among and within the regions and districts has been increased in the recent years. Overcrowded classes, high PTRs, inadequate accommodations for the teachers, shortage of qualified teachers especially in remote rural areas has been witnessed for sometimes now. The 1995 Education and Training Policy “teachers in public schools have experienced low and irregular salary payments, lack of proper housing, inadequate teaching facilities, low status and limited opportunities for professional development.”(1995:31).

Nevertheless, the UNESCO GMR Report “agrees and strongly argues that the most important determinant of educational quality is the teacher.” (2009:15) Therefore, if is to improve the quality of education, first we have to improve the quality of teaching force. Teacher plays a prime role to ensure teaching and learning process meet the desirable outcomes; since they’re source of knowledge, skills, wisdom, appropriate orientation and role models for the students. According to Chung in his book “Education and Development” argued that, “if for one reason or the other, teachers’ qualifications are inadequate and if his morale is low, education is doomed to failure to that extent regardless of the abundance … of other supporting factors.”(2010:163). The achievements of students in the class are determined by the way the teacher is performing his/her obligation in and outside the classroom.

Additionally, the PEDP program did not give much attention to the development of professional teaching skills (Komba & Nkumbi, 2008). The situation is more critical still as far as the teachers working in rural areas, where statistics shows the ratio of pupil to qualified teacher range from above 100 pupils to 1 teacher for rural primary schools to fewer than 35 pupils to one teacher for urban schools (URT/UNESCO, 2012). This implies that the workload is very heavy to some teachers who work in remote areas and eventually affecting their motivation to undertake their duties effectively. This threatened the quality of primary education since the sharp increase of extra children caused over-crowded classes, under-staffing in the schools as well as insufficient learning materials.

To address this problem the government created a crash teaching program conducted between 2003 and 2007 to meet the shortage of teaching staff in primary schools. So, instead of a two years training course for grade IIIA teachers, they had to study for only one year and the second year to complete their studies in their working places. This program led to produce under-qualified teachers who lacked some pedagogical skills to teach pupils in primary school.

In a nutshell, education is the central point to development and a key on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But also it is one of the most powerful weapons to fight against poverty and reducing inequality among people in the society. It lays foundation for a country to attain sustainable socio-economic development. In this regard, quality education is very important for developing countries to realize rapid economic growth. But, a number of criticisms have been put forward with regard to poor quality of education in Tanzania such as poor teaching force, low motivation for teachers in public schools, under-staffing to the most of public schools, low payments and poor working environment for teachers especially in rural areas just to mention few.

1.3: Rationale of the Study.

This study intends to address the deteriorating quality of education delivered in public schools. Many reasons have been pointed out behind this poor performance of education system. This paper will attempt to address the challenges facing teachers in public schools. Specifically, to describe how teachers’ low salary payments and poor working conditions affecting service delivery in public schools. To study how the low reputation and recognition for teaching professional affecting the quality of education in developing countries and Tanzania in particular; and finally identify the practice that promotes teachers’ professional development and its implications to quality of education. In conclusion the study will come up with the suggestion to improve the existing situation and hence increase the quality of education.

1.4: Research Question.

This paper will attempt to answer the following questions based on the studies and literature review conducted by several scholars from both national and international perspectives. What are the problems with salary payments to public school teachers? How do teachers’ working conditions affect their teaching performance? How do the limited opportunities for teachers’ professional development affect their teaching abilities for the betterment of learning process? And finally, what kind of motivations can be provided to teachers so as to improve service delivery in public schools?

In sum, existence of poor working environment in public primary schools – poor school infrastructure, lack of teaching materials, inadequate housing and accommodation, costs of getting paid their salary, low and unattractive salaries, overcrowding classes, insufficient pre-service and in-service training, low motivation and incentives, low status and reputation from the society are some of problems need to be solved before the education can be improved in Tanzania.

1.5: Methodology of the Study.

The research project will employ secondary data, both quantitative and qualitative sources of data. Secondary data will be collected from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, The President’s Office, Public Service Management websites and the Bureau of National Statistics, where by different reports, studies and database related to the research subject.

The research paper will be divided into four parts i.e. introduction which will involves abstract, objective of the study, significance of the study, research questions. Second part will comprise background of the study, where underneath will be literature review and conceptual background. Third part will deal with situational analysis of public school teachers in Tanzania. The last part will consist of summary, conclusion and recommendations.

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Education remains an important instrument for ushering developing countries into an integrated global system where science and technology are prevailing. Also, for any society to achieve sustainable development, education is an inevitable ingredient, without which any future growth is inconceivable. For an economy, education can increase the human capital in the labour force, which boost up labour productivity and thus leads to a higher level of output, but also, to improve the innovative capacity of the economy such as knowledge of new technologies, products and processes promotes growth (BEST, 2010). Thus, for the developing countries which are still backward economically they have to put more efforts to improve the quality of education system as the basic step towards achieving rapid socio-economic development.

But, unfortunately the main challenge for developing countries including Tanzania is to afford to provide quality education to the people. The statistics point out that, in developing countries approximately 30 to 40 percent of primary school leavers cannot read, write, or solve simple arithmetic after spent four to seven years in the schools (Adedeji & Olonayan, 2011). Education sector suffers with a number of constraints due to low investment versus high demands caused by fast population growth. This lead to emerging of problems like poor quality and supply of teachers, lacking teaching and learning materials, poor school infrastructure and facilities, low payments and poor working environment among teachers especially in public schools. All these and other factors contribute to the poor quality of education in public primary schools in Tanzania.

Thus, this paper will focus on the challenges facing public school teachers and its implications to the quality of education system in Tanzania. Different studies shows that public school teachers working in an environment of genuine constraints caused by low salaries payments and motivations, schools lacking essential infrastructure such as electricity, teaching and learning materials, teachers lacking sufficient pre-service and in-service training, classrooms are often overcrowded.

Different scholars argued about the importance of teachers as the essential attribute to realize quality of education. The ultimate goal of any education system is to ensure that children develop their cognitive, emotional and social capacities and acquire the skills they need to realize their potential (Komba and Nkumbi, 2008). Schools are the primary institutions where the children can achieve this goal depend on their teachers’ ability to deliver adequate service. The research has shown that the quality of our teachers is the most important factor to realize that students get quality education (Adedeji & Oloniyan, 2011).

In the OECD book titled “The Quality of the Teaching Workforce” the high quality of educational system in any country is depends to the quality of workforce (OECD, 2004). Moreover, the achievements of the students in the class are greatly influenced by the knowledge, skills, characters and commitment of the teachers. Likewise, in the UNESCO report insisted that, teachers are in the frontline and contingent on what happens in the classroom in order to achieve the ultimate goal of delivery good-quality education. It is added that, to improve student performance, does not mean only to have enough teachers and reasonable pupil-teacher ratio; it also needs to have teachers who are well trained, motivated and highly respected in the society. However, the situation is unusual for the teachers who working in developing countries including Tanzania, where teachers always plays a big role in the students’ learning process due to the fact that other essential learning and teaching materials such as textbooks, visual aids, computers are very limited.

Salaries and working conditions plays a prime role for attracting, retaining, developing and retaining high-skilled and motivated teachers who are very important ingredient in the provision of quality education (OECD, 2011). In most of developing countries teaches are poorly paid in public schools which is said as one of the factors de-motivate them to work hard (Haugen et al, 2011). Evidence shows that primary school teachers are one of the cadres which receive a minimal salary among public servants in developing world. For instance in on surveys from six countries in Africa (The Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia), the survey revealed that, teachers are paid much lower when compared to other professionals with similar numbers of years of education (Sonyolo, 2007). For example in Zambia the averagely gross salary for primary, lower-secondary and upper secondary teachers is $ 200, $ 300 and $ 325 respectively. This is very far from the poverty line calculated based upon a comprehensive budgetary projection for a family to meet the essential requirements which stands at $ 375 per month (Haugen et al, 2011). The familiar axiom among teachers is said that “teachers take home the pay that cannot take them home.” (Adedeji & Oloyanin: 2011:58)

Additionally, unlike other professionals, teachers they do not have even non-wage benefits such as overtime payments, house allowances, hardship allowances. In most of developing countries is common for the teachers in public schools to involve in other income-generating activities (such as small businesses, extra-curricular classes) so as to supplement their income. This kind of extra-time activity leaves little time for planning and preparing for the classes, which automatically affects teaching quality (Haugen et al, 2011). Similarly, an extra-hours activity also contributes to the common problem of absenteeism in public schools, as the teachers absconds their class duties busy struggling for hunting additional work to raise extra income and hence resulting into absenteeism both for teachers and students because poor attendance of teachers can even discourage the students to attend in the classes. Additionally, in developing countries teachers’ absenteeism is estimated to costs between 10 percent and 24 percent of education expenditures in primary schools. For instance, in Zambia teachers’ absenteeism problems estimated to cause the losses of 17 million dollars annually, that is almost o.31 percent of the Zambia’s GDP (UNESCO, 2010).

Low salary payments may affect quality of education in different ways. Sometimes it becomes an obstacle for qualified teachers to join public schools. As a result teaching tends to recruits those who did not get chances in other professions where teaching becomes their last resort. (Mulkeen, 2010). Likewise, in some countries public teaching jobs are better paid, but in other countries private school pay more than in public schools. For instance, in Tanzania the private schools pays salary twice as compared to public schools and this has negative severe effects to public schools since few qualified teachers tempted to work in private schools (Haugen et al, 2011). OECD (2004) found that teacher who are paid better usually staying for a long time in a teaching profession as compared to who are have potential to get high-paid careers. In Liberia, it is reported that many of graduates in education degrees and teachers upgrades to university level decided to move to Non- Government Organizations, where they expect to get high salaries and other fringes (Malkeen, 2010). Vagas in the book, argued that, “salaries may act as morale boosters or motivators for teachers already in the classroom or increase teacher effectiveness through increased social recognition” (Vagas and Petrow, 2008:106). Both teacher pay and working conditions can affect individual’s choice to become a teacher and remains in the teaching profession (UNESCO, 2009; Vagas and Petrow, 2008).

Furthermore, Poor working condition has remains as one of the major constraints for the developing countries to improve student learning outcomes. For instance, most parts of Africa teachers are experience poor working conditions in public schools – usually work in dilapidated structures with few desks, books, or overcrowded class (Haugen et al, 2011). The problem is solemn in public schools particularly located in remote rural areas where majority of people reside. McAwan (1999) assert that, appropriate of housing is the best way to attract qualified teachers to work in remote rural areas particularly for single women. On the other side the poor working conditions can fuel another problem of high unequal distribution of workforce, since few teachers will be prefer to work in remote rural areas. The student-teacher ratio in rural schools is exceptional larger for the teachers to manage the class (McAwan, 1999) which eventually affect the quality of teacher’s work. In Malawi, the student-teacher ratios have raised to averagely 76 to 1 in 2006, though the government efforts to increase the number of qualified teachers. In Uganda, there were 48 pupils per teacher, where only 68 percent were qualified teachers (Malkeen, 2010). Likewise in Lesotho, the government has been able to recruit new teachers, but the gap between the qualified and unqualified teachers is still rising. By 2007, the student-teacher ratio had been declined to 42, whereas only 60 percent were qualified teachers in primary schools (Malkeen, 2010). The student-teacher ratios have significantly effects to the achievements of student in the class. One research done in the United States confirms that the class size is one of the factors affecting the students’ performance. The smaller the class sizes the better the test scores the students’ attains in mathematics and reading (Rivkin et al, 2005). In remote areas poor working conditions – housing, classrooms, availability of support staff, quality of facilities and instructional materials are common problems in public schools (OECD, 2004). Adedeji and Olayanin commented that, “teachers in many developing countries are working in poor conditions that are aggravated by poor remuneration; delay in payments of salaries, allowances and promotions; scarce teaching and learning and disrespect from the government, parents, and community at large.” (2011:16).

The shortage of qualified teachers in public schools is hindering efforts of developing countries to achieve the quality education for all (EFA) as emphasized by the United Nations. The EI Global Monitoring Report 2008 admitted that, “quality education cannot be achieved without adequate numbers of properly trained qualified teachers.”(2008:8). In Sub-Saharan Africa between 1999 and 2006 the teachers worked in primary schools have been increased to 2.5 million which is 29 percent increment. Nevertheless, the statistics points out that, in spite of these increases, still there is a shortage of 1.6 million primary teachers and can rise to 3.8 million by the year 2015 (Adedeji & Olaniyan, 2011; OECD, 2008). Most of the countries in Africa continent have severe teachers’ shortage which make difficult to attain successfully the global agenda of universal primary education (UPE) programs by the year 2015 as it is stipulated in Millennium Development Goals. For instance, in three countries of Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda statistics reveals there is a need to creates more 153,000, 127,000 and 92,000 teaching posts respectively if they had to achieve goal number two in the MDGs by 2015 (Adedeji & Olaniyan, 2011). In addition this, due to severe shortage of teachers; the governments in these countries decided to recruit unqualified teachers to fill the gaps which have negative implications to the quality of education delivered. In Uganda, during implementation of universal education programs in 2000s, the government decided to recruited untrained teachers in the initial stage of the program due to shortage of trained teachers (Malkeen, 2010). OECD (2004) affirms that, for the countries affected by severe shortage of teaching workforce the most vulnerable are the students from the disadvantages and remote areas. In most cases students from these areas usually find themselves in the classes with inexperienced and unqualified teachers. Other people who are likely to be affected are students from minorities and immigrants groups since they denied their right to access quality education (OECD, 2004). Globally, between 2010 and 2015, 114 countries will need to generate at least 1.7 million new teaching posts in order to realize quality education for all children (UNESCO, 2012). The figure no. 2.1 below shows the number of additional teaching posts in primary schools by the year 2015, whereas six out of ten additional teachers are needed in Sub-Saharan Africa countries.


It is common to find overcrowded classes in developing countries particularly in public schools which give teachers hard time to provide quality education. According to UNESCO eAtlas of Teachers, “on average one-half of sub-Saharan countries reporting data have fifty or more pupils per class in primary school.” [3] The class size varies greatly across the region, from 26 pupils per teacher in Cape Verde to 84 pupils per teacher in Central African Republic. The teacher attrition [4] has said to be one reason for the shortage of teaching workforce in the most of developing countries. A high attrition rate fuel the shortage of teachers in public schools in disadvantage areas. Therefore effective measures should be taken by policymakers to figure out the best way to retain the qualified teachers. The specific country strategies can be employed to attract and retain the best teachers through improving management of teaching workforce (UNESCO-UIS, 2012). The main causes for teachers to leave their jobs are isolated working conditions and low salaries in the most of public schools. The UIS usually project the attrition rate at the 5 percent, but currently in some countries the rate rise up to 17 percent as it was affirmed in the UNESCO-UIS that:

“Sub-Saharan African countries reporting data indicate that substantial proportions of teachers are leaving the public school sector; with annual attrition rates between 3% and 17% ….Conversely, working conditions, civil services status and other incentives may contribute to attracting and retaining.” (2012:7).

These high rates of replacement can result in the recruitment of less experienced and unqualified staff which has significantly effects to the attainment of universal education programs. In addition to over-crowded classrooms, many developing countries have multi-grade classes, [5] which adding more difficulties for pupil and teacher. For instance, approximately 50 percent of primary-level classes are multi-grade in Chad, in the Congo Republic – 32 percent, the Central African Republic – 30 percent and Madagascar – 28 percent [6] . It gives teachers difficulties to teach students of different grades in the same class and to students hampering their cognitive thinking because of inequalities of age and levels.

The quality and quantity of teachers has significant effects to the learning outcomes of the student. The achievements of students in the class are highly determined by the quality of teacher. This is obvious in the most of developing countries where essential teaching and learning materials (such as text books, computers, and visual aids) are limited in the majority of public schools. Therefore, effective delivery of education service is mainly depends upon the quality of teachers. The quality and quantity of teachers focuses on the three key factors: teacher recruitment, deployment of teaching workforce, and condition of service delivery by teachers (UNESCO-UIS, 2006). To start with the deployment of teaching workforce, in the most of developing countries face difficulties to attain equitable supply of qualified teachers (Malkeen, 2010). Students from the least developed and remote rural areas normally affected since, most of qualified teachers reluctant to work in hardship locations. Uneven deployment of teachers usually results into high pupil-teacher ratio in rural areas. Hence amplifies inequities in provision of education between the urban and rural population. For instance, in 2006, Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania had the average pupil-teacher ratio in urban schools of 46:1, 40:1 and 43:1, while in the rural schools had the average ratio was 83:1, 93: and 60:1 respectively (Malkeen, 2010). This disparity between urban and rural tells only one side of the story; on the other side the situation is very severe within and between the rural districts where the pupil-teacher ratio sometime stands even up to 129:1 in Ukerewe district in Tanzania (BEST, 2010). In the figure below shows the variation of pupil-student ratio in some of developing countries.

Figure no 2.2: Variation in District Average Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) in Primary School.

Source: Malkeen, A. (2010).

In the researches and different reports confirm that, the advancement of access to quality education is highly depends to the way the government attracting and retaining competent people in teaching career (Zafeirakou, 2007). Still, teachers play the significant role as compared to other resources involves improving schools. The UNESCO-UIS admit that “teachers are the most important resource in education reconstruction” (2006:24). There are growing concerns that teachers in developing countries are increasingly de-motivated, which reflects to deteriorate of teaching performance and learning outcomes. Motivation [7] and recognition is very important to induce teachers’ morale to work hard and in highly committed to the attainment of school’s learning outcomes (Bennell and Mwakyanuzi, 2005).

Another possible explanation pointed out that teachers have experienced low and irregular salaries, lack of appropriate housing, inadequate teaching facilities, low recognition from the community and limited opportunities for professional development. Several studies suggests teachers’ attrition usually happens because teachers quitting from teaching due to huge salaries and alternative employment opportunities. According to OECD 2004, the empirical studies suggested that relative pay can influence: (i) the decision to become a teacher; (ii) the decision to remain in teaching: those teachers who paid well stay in teaching longer; (iii) the decision to return to teaching after a carrier interruption (2004:4). Teacher Professional Development can play a crucial role to motivate teachers since it gives chance to attain new knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and dispositions (Komba and Nkumbi, 2008).



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