[email protected]: How policy reforms defined education

Monday November 29 2021
Education pic
By Jacob Mosenda

Dar es Salaam. After independence in 1961, Tanzania had only two engineers and 12 doctors. There were only 3,100 primary and 41 secondary schools, most of which were under private hands. Adult literacy rate was also hovering around 17 percent.

Faced with this reality, the country decided to make radical changes to reform its education sector through policy changes with the aim of empowering its citizens to help in developing their new nation of Tanzania.

These reforms include the enactment of the Educational Reform Act of 1962 which promoted Swahili as the national language and medium of instruction in primary school and also revoked and replaced the 1927 British colonial education ordinance that provided educational services on the basis of racial and socioeconomic discrimination, according to Dr Godfrey Magoti Mnubi.

The first major policy was the Education for Self-Reliance, adopted in 1967.

Dr Shaaban Fundi, a researcher writes on his official account- Kibogoji Experiential Learning Inc that the policy intended for education system to focus on training a workforce to build a new nation; to integrate educational theory with practical skills as socio-economic empowerment and development tools.

Explaining further the first President Julius Nyerere said the Education for Self-Reliance (ESR) policy was adopted out of recognition that, for example, only a few of those who enter Primary Schools, about 13 per cent, would continue to secondary schools and beyond and so primary school education would have to focus to create pupils who would go for self-employment after their education.


“We are trying to ensure that lower levels do not direct their attention solely to preparing their pupils for secondary school or university but that at each level attention is concentrated on the needs of the majority” Mwalimu Nyerere said.

He added, “For we have recognised that, for the foreseeable future, the majority or our primary school pupils will not go to secondary school, and the majority our secondary school pupils will not go to university. They will leave full time learning and become workers in our villages and towns.”

Dr Magoti notes that the education for self–reliance policy guided theenactment of other educational laws and policies including the education acts of 1967 and 1978, the decentralisation programme of 1972, the National Examination Council Act No.21 of 1973 , the Institute of Adult Education Act No 12 of 1975 and the Institute of Education Act No13 of 1975.

The ESR also led to the adoption of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1974.

UPE saw an increase in the number of primary schools, teachers and in the beginning of the 1980s Tanzania had achieved its goal of having a primary school in each village and the total enrolment of primary age children rose to 100 per cent.

However, the high increase in enrolment and teacher hires cumulatively increased the running cost and quality of education started to suffer.

In the early and mid-1980s the donor countries that supported the earlier expansion of schools started to withdraw their support.

The decline in resources to run the schools and the pressure from international financial institutions forced the government to gradually introduce a cost sharing model to run its schools efficiently and effectively.

As a result, more policy changes had to take place to mitigate the problems. In 1997, Tanzania developed the Basic Education Master Plan policy (BEMP).

In implementing this policy, less developed districts and regions were given priority and preference in opening up new secondary schools or by receiving government assistance to do just that.

Further, the fact that human resources represent an important factor in the economic development of any country was one crucial factor that informed the government to come up with the Technical Education and Training Policy 1996.

Some of the policy objectives were to enhance the application of science and technology to socio-economic development in order to improve the standard of living of the population and meet the basic needs of the masses.

The government also introduced the National Higher Education Policy 1999 aimed at regulating higher education and directing it as it should be in addition to enhancing access to higher education in the country.

Also, the ICT Policy for Basic Education (2007) with a set of guidelines desired to position Tanzania at the universal level for which education is being implemented with concerted efforts for pre-primary, primary, secondary and vocational education.

This policy was directed at the achievement of the objectives of Tanzania’s education policies and education development programmes as stated in the education policy of 1995.

The overall aims of education in Tanzania were, among other things: “to promote the acquisition and appropriate use of literary, social, scientific, vocational, technological, professional and other forms of knowledge, skills and understanding for the development and improvement of man and society”.

In 2001, the education sector development programme (ESDP) was launched, to realise the objectives of education policies by addressing critical issues, including ICT.

The main objectives of this programme include: to decentralise management of educational institutions; to improve the quality of education, both formal and non-formal; to promote access and equity to basic education; and to promote science and technology.

Special mention is made of the need to improve and expand girls’ education, to ensure access to education by special social and cultural groups, to give appropriate education to children with disabilities, and to provide education facilities to disadvantaged areas.

Again the government to came up with the 2014 Education and Training Policy which identified issues which informed the government, in collaboration with education and training stakeholders, to put more emphasis on having a favourable environment for attaining the goals of the development plans.

The policy among other issues focused on the improvement of the quality of education and training structure so that it becomes productive and successful by providing education and training opportunities equally…

The government, through the policy also aimed to promote the use of Kiswahili and English languages, sign language and other foreign languages in education and training as well as continue to improve the quality of assessment structure, evaluation and issuing of certificates at all levels.

The new policy that is in place currently was designed to as well strengthen the management and administrative capacity in the education and training sector and broaden the scope for financing education and training.

However, the current 2014 policy has in recent years attracted the attention of many education stakeholders who suggest that the policy be reconsidered to bring it into line with the needs of the current world to help in producing competent professionals.

“It is time now for the education policy to be revisited because there is a heap of graduates who are unable to self-employed or even commit themselves to any income-generating work,” says Dr Mussa Ahmed of the State University of Zanzibar.

He says the policy that was born after many policies were created since the country gained independence isn’t bad but there are some aspects that need to be reviewed (he didn’t mention) with the participation of various education stakeholders.

“Good policy will help determine what education system the country should adopt in the current era where technology has continued to innovate every day, this is what should be considered for the next 60 years,” Dr Ahmed told The Citizen.