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Tanzanian universities: 2001 onwards

Part 4/6 in a series on the history of universities in Tanzania

A big change for Tanzanian universities, and for much of education in Tanzania generally, came in 2001 with the government’s Primary Education Development Plan, a push by the government to raise the standard of education and increase the number of Tanzanians getting a primary education.

This plan included:

  • Abolition of primary school fees (though parents still pay for uniforms, textbooks, etc.);
  • Cash contributions made to schools;
  • A campaign for enrolment;
  • Investment in private education.

The jury is still out on the overall effectiveness of the Development Plan. While enrolment numbers have jumped dramatically, only 21% of students receive their Primary School Leavers Examination certificate. Furthermore, classrooms continue to be based on rote learning and corporal punishment is still common. However, the Development Plan has also seen investment in universities: there’s been a recognition that the relationship between primary and tertiary education is not linear; they feed each other.

This explains why there was such a boom in universities in the 2000s. It also explains why private seminaries have broadened their focus and become generalist universities: the encouragement of private institutions means they now have the opportunity to be recognised by the government, not just by their diocese or religious body.

Coming up in the next post: the culture of universities in Tanzania…

Categories: Tanzania Uncategorized Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

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