Tanzanian History

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This is something I wanted to do to give everyone the full picture of life and issues in Tanzania. I have not completed it yet but I was thinking that I would add to this page as I learnt the history myself in Moshi. If you want a brief history you can google Tanzania :) or you can check back here and learn along with me!


Education in Tanzania

We had a guest speaker on Wednesday night, Basil Jema who is a politician/teacher here in Tanzania. He came to talk to the group about the political and educational issues in the country. He was a very engaging and talented speaker, definitely born for politics. He spoke about the education system since pre-colonial days.

1. Pre-Colonialism: Before 1885 the people of Tanzania were educated through their experiences in their communities. If your father was a farmer of coffee, you learned the trade. It was an informal education only meant to maintain the sustainability of the tribe.

2. Colonialism: After the country was colonized and named Tangiyka an educational system was formed that benefited the needs of the colonial masters. Teachers were enlisted to educate the Africans to become workers for colonial employment, to produce profits not for themselves but the colonialists.

3. December 9 1961, Tangiyka (later renamed Tanzania in 1964 when it merged with Zanzibar) gains independence but the education system does not immediately change. Depending on your race you went to school for different occupations. Some went to schools to be investors, others to be entrepenuers and then there were the poor Africans who went to learn to be government workers (same as in colonial days). President Julius Nyerere realized he had 3 challenges. First, the structure of schools, second, the geogrpahic location of schools (they were only bulit where missonaries were allowed to open their churches), and third, was tribalism. Nyerere wanted to build a primary school in every village so that there was fair access to education (this was implemented in 1976. Before only 13% of children at the age of 7 were enrolled in primary school but after more schools were built the number rose to 36%). Before most children had to walk many kilometers to find a school, sometimes up to 80km! This is still an issue but there was some improvement. Nyerere managed a great accomplishment when he overcame the problem of tribalism. He integrated children from all different tribes in to the schools, so that in a class of 45 you might be the only one from your tribe there. Therefore, the children were forced to befriend eachother. Many became nationalists instead of tribalists.

In Tanzania there is Nursery school, which is the parents choice whether or not they enroll their children. At the age of 7 children are often sent to primary school which lasts for 7 years, with multiple levels of achievment. This level of education is free through the government but, unfortunately, a lot of poorer families still can not afford the cost of school supplises and do not send their children (approx. %60 of eligible children actually attend primary). If the child is successful in primary school they will advance to secondary school around the age of 14 or 15. Secondary lasts 4 years and does have a tuition fee. At age 18 or 19 an exam is administered and they can move on to advanced level secondary school for 2 years. If they are succesful at this level and have the funds they can continue on in to University. There are currently around 45,000 University grads per year in Tanzania.

The 1994 government budget gave 3% to education. Now that number has risen to 19.4%. However, with corruption, a lot of this money is being directed away from the schools to pay for ministers conferences, seminars, or other miscellaneous and less important things. The teachers are severly lacking in resources but the money just isn't there. It is thought that approximately 6% of the 19% actually goes to the schools themselves (ie. teachers salaries and resources). Teachers can make around $300/month where as ministers are making aprroximately $7000/month with free perks on the side.

Unfortunately for Basil Jema, he lost his job as a teacher 7 times in the span of his career. The last time he lost his teaching position was in the early 2000's. Jema had written two papers on corruption and education and submitted them to the government. In his opinion english language should be more prominent in the schools. He believes that it will give the children the advantage to better serve their country. He had recieved the opportunity and seen the results first hand. But the government did not agree with this opinion. Now he is working in the political sector to try to make a difference.



There are approximately 120 tribes in Tanzania. The Chagga people are the biggest tribe in Tanzania and the Massai are one of the most well known tribes in this area. You can distinguish which tribe some one is a part of based on the dialect they speake. In our homebase all the staff members speak different dialects and all belong to their own tribe.

When Julius Nyerere was in power he was able to get around the issue of tribalism. Unlike its surrounding countries, Tanzania has been able to integrate and bring together people of different tribes (integration in the schools). This is why tribal warfare is not an issue and Tanzania is able to maintain peace so much more than its neighbors.