On the New Education Policy in Tanzania (Sera Ya Elimu Na Mafunzo Tanzania (2014) , #Education, #Policy, #Tanzania

In 1965, my dad was at Old Moshi Secondary School (O-Level) and got an opportunity to go to Kenya for a study visit that had brought a selection of students (I think they had won essays or something to be selected for that program) from all over the world. When he came back, he wrote a letter to the Minister of Education asking for an exemption to skip A-Levels and join University immediately after finishing O-Level. He got an answer that was not possible. My dad was only 18 years old then and he was in Form IV. In Old Moshi he was among the youngest students yet when he went to the study visit he realized that he was not young and same age students in other parts of the world were far ahead of him. Although my dad’s request to skip A-levels was denied, his idea remained and he implemented it to his kids. My siblings and I all started standard one at either the age of 4 or 5. That was partly possible because my mom was a primary school teacher so she probably could influence the admission acceptance, but it was more because of the vision that my dad had. Similarly, when my sis finished form four (that time the system was that you finish form 4 in November and wait to join A-levels in July the following year), she didn’t wait for the results, my dad enrolled her to Form 5 in January, so by the time her fellow students were joining form 5, she was going to form 6. She saved a whole year. In that way, we all were very graced to finish university education at  young age. I completed my PhD at the age of 28 despite 2 full straight years of working experience prior to starting my PhD. I finished my first degree just before I turned 21.

I gave the story above to highlight my joy of the new education policy in Tanzania launched in Feb. 2015. I have read the whole policy and reflected on it. I may also mention that from June to September 2014, I worked as a research consultant at the International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP)/UNESCO, Paris, and I learnt so much on education planning and learning issues. The academic and semi-academic literature that I had to engage with for my work enlightened me to the issues of education at global level in a comparative way. I was immersed in what has been termed as ‘global learning crisis’. So, in confession, I’ve read this report not in vacuum…but within the context of an understanding of education issues at the global level.

The policy makers/writers have done a very good job. The context/situation analysis of education situation in Tanzania is thoroughly done and an honest self-reflection to where Tanzania stands in education. This is a good spirit emerging in the country. A spirit of sitting back and looking into what’s wrong, get honest, and look for ways to change towards a better direction. When students did so bad in 2013, I blogged about the need for revolution in our education system and used Tariq Ramadan’s terms of “intellectual jihad” to emphasis the need to change. I am happy to say that the new policy is part of that revolution that I had wished to see.

In addition to the shortening of school years, the policy has many other impressive and progressive areas. Abolishing of school feels in ‘elimumsingi’ is an appropriate move towards reducing poverty by ensuring access to many citizens. Reading that was a consolation that different voices are heard in Tanzania policy-making tables towards a better utilization of enormous resources we have. It also reminded me of 2010 Chadema manifesto that called for abolition of school fees and prolonged primary education. Although there’s lots of messing up in our opposition parties, it is evident that they are contributing towards change when they make ‘noises’.

The emphasis of Kiswahili as the language of instruction (in addition to properly teaching English) is a wise move highlighting the true spirit of Tanzania and correlates with the underscored importance of educating people for peace. Research and literature has it that language of instruction should be what is spoken at home – in our case it’s Kiswahili. Teaching our kids in Kiswahili will improve learning to the masses in Tanzania.

Other areas in the new policy that need a raise of  glass are the thinking and expression of the need to change education management structure. I did an analysis of Political Economy of Education in Tanzania in 2013, and one of the challenges I saw was that education system in Tanzania is being managed by different institutions that at times create confusion and incoherence. So it’s a good thing that the policy has addressed this issue. Furthermore, the policy is also result oriented as it has clearly underscored the importance of monitoring and evaluation as well as inspections at all levels and from all levels starting from parents to the ministry level.

The emphasis of youths, especially the vocational training and skills, is on the same vein in the ongoing trend and demographic in the country where youths are majority. Also the Global Monitoring Report for Education (UNESCO, 2012) puts emphasis on vocational skills for youths.

The policy is unique in a way that its vision and mission allows for the emphasis on “attitudes” of learning, which is very important. A good education is that which produces citizens with a right attitude. This is also relating to self-reliance education applicable to the 21st century. In the learning literature, it is called ‘soft skills’. It has also looked at the security issues in the eyes, of what in IR is called, ‘New Security Agenda’.

Mention may also be made that the policy is detailed in that it has cared for issues such as book production and distribution, and cross-cutting issues such as gender, HIV/AIDS, and environment.

Special needs education has been touched especially in the language of instruction, but I felt a lot was left on the special needs education. Although the school environment and equipment have been covered, I didn’t see the mentioning of ‘accessibility’ facilities in schools. We have different special needs children and all of them have to be covered.

Other areas that I felt the policy didn’t cover are such as home environment. Education and learning literature has it that home environment in terms of parental education, parental expectation, emphasis on learning at home, etc is crucial (at times more than school environment) in achieving learning. So I had thought the policy would mention something of the sort. In connection to that, learning is also facilitated by learning environment in the community…there was a mention on public libraries but nothing else. There is a need to re invent our public libraries towards better use for every one and for 21st century world.

I think what was also not covered well is financing for education. There were some highlights of students’ loans, fees, etc…but more is needed. Education is an expensive product and someone has to bear the cost. I even thought of how could government partner with parastatals such as NSSF, NHC, etc in financing education or something…this is shout out thought that I will need to put further thinking and discussions with other education-loving people in the country.

Ok, I have lots of things to say regarding the policy, but I think it’s getting a little bit too descriptive here and also long for a blog entry….but I hope and really hope that Action Plan will swiftly be put in place so as implementation of this policy to start asap.

My last sentence is…this crucial policy has been launched in the year of election…it can be a liability or asset!! BUT as education planners know…politics must not interfere education. It is unfortunate that reforming education is the most political thing in the government system (believe me or not…but you can ask Tony Blair, if you want to know the real answer), but as Tanzanians please and please let’s avoid politics in this and just work towards educating our children…so as to achieve Vision 2025!

God bless Tanzania, my beautiful country….education is the means through which we can sustainably eradicated poverty and liberate every Tanzania.

To my dear President Kikwete, reforming education is the biggest legacy that you can leave us with as you are leaving the office. The policy is already a very big step towards that legacy and many congratulations. But please make sure there’s an action plan on the table to implement this policy before you hand in the leadership stick to our next president.

 Thank you!

For my previous entries on Education, see here.


63 thoughts on “On the New Education Policy in Tanzania (Sera Ya Elimu Na Mafunzo Tanzania (2014) , #Education, #Policy, #Tanzania

  1. Kitila Mkumbo

    Great piece. I’m glad that you are able to appreciate the work done. Of course the devil is with implementation. The question of language a careful thought through implementation process otherwise it could be a disaster.

  2. Irenei

    Good one! I generally agree with you, except on the issue of fees. Abolition of fees can only work if all activities were accurately costed and govt allocates the same. We know how challenged is our govt in this area. We know the same policy has not worked for pregnant women for years now. Pregnant women are paying for supplies and services at point of delivery. What evidence can we present as assurance that exemption of fees in schools will work. How much money is that, for all primary and secondary schools in the country. What source of additional revenue we are looking at? This for now

    1. Deogratias Luhamba

      Yes, it is among the good moves the country can make. However, on fees abolition, I am afraid the burden may be pushed back to parents as exhibited by the current situation where school fees for government secondary schools is 70,000/=, but we end up paying more than that in terms of so many different names!! On starting this term for example, each student had to pay 100,000/= for laboratories.
      Unless, as Dr, Mkumbo said, we do something else on the implementation side, the devil may ambush our good policy.

      1. MEIKABI


  3. Mgaya

    Good piece but I have the following observations to make:

    1. It seems the government is waking up to address the problem of education in our country. I doubt whether they are serious, this time around. I have visited a place like UDSM and found that the bookshop is no longer at best they are selling colouring books for kindergarten children. The UDSM bookshop is stuffed with very old books whose pages have turned Khaki and brittle because of lack of air-conditioning. Why is the government not buying books for our universities? How are the lecturers, including Kitila Mkumbo teaching our students?

    2. Lack of books is a serious matter. If the government cannot buy books for our universities will they be able to finance the multitudes of books which will be needed in our education system from whatever language to Kiswahili?

    3. What makes our children not understand English when it is not such a big problem in other countries? Children can easily learn another language in their earlier years if it is well taught. I am of the opinion that our children fail to master English because it is not taught properly. Do you know that our children also can write or speak their supposedly mother tongue – Kiswahili?

    4. The new policy talks about private schools, I must admit I have not read it but I have heard about it in mass media as it is an issues that has been going on for some time. The government wants to control the school fees, curricula and failure rates. I can understand about the curricula but not school fees and failure rates. Ours is a democratic and a country which believes in the initiatives of the private sector. I believe that if those who invest in education are reaping abnormal profits it will not last for ever as many others will try to invest in the sector.

    5. Lastly, I must again admit that I have not read the document but would like to know whether the new policy aims at teaching all courses in Kiswahili, and it will be a must for all schools in the country. If that is the case, how will our children compete with other job seekers from outside the country? Where are we going to get people who will fill in some job positions which demand command of some foreign language? – in commerce, foreign affairs, private sector, etc.? Is there not a danger of dividing our society into two groups, those who will be able to send their children abroad and those who will fail to do so?

    1. Deogratias Luhamba

      Back on employment after education, this might be another area the policy needs to address. Having been taken to be a good one, I think there must be changes in other related policies including a policy about employing foreigners. We must set conditions and criteria to be followed before a foreigner can be employed. This should go hand in hand with proportions of those who studied abroad and their fellows who took their education in-country.
      Another alternative could be to let those who studied abroad seek employment in other countries; while on the same grounds setting our education policy to prepare our children for self-employment. I believe that if we keep on preparing job-seekers, our policy may turn to be seen as a burden rather than bringing relief.

  4. Issa Mwamba

    “this crucial policy has been launched in the year of election…it can be a liability or asset!!” hahahaha
    Unfortunately, haven’t read the policy but I believe you’ve reworded it understandably well. Nice piece!

  5. Emmanuel Thomas

    The policy should be very specific on the issue of language! May use of subdivions for instance from grade 1 to 5 English can be taught as a subject and Kiswahili be used as the means of communication! From grade 6 upward English to be a means of communication and Kiswahili can be taught as the subject

  6. Emmanuel Thomas

    The policy should be very specific on the issue of language! May be the use of subdivions can help; for instance from grade 1 to 5 English can be taught as a subject and Kiswahili be used as the means of communication! From grade 6 upward English to be a means of communication and Kiswahili can be taught as the subject

  7. Alilya Kwayu

    Thank you Dr. Aikande, for such analysis on our Education Policy. Education is the heart of human brain. I remember baba emphasized that one should not stay idle for any period of time, rather continue with education. One of the British Lady was having a conversation about Tanzania Education, and said our education is behind about 100 years behind. Change is inevitable, and crucial sometimes it has to go incrementally, but for education matter has to go radically. I am joining you to congratulate President Jakaya Kikwete, in implementing and leaving this legacy to our country.

  8. Janet Namara

    Earlier this week, I have had several conversations with fellow teachers and my former students on the status and challenges of Education in Tanzania.It gives me joy to find that there are other Tanzanians who love education as much as I do.Thank you, Aikande for the reflection and everyone else for the thought-provoking comments.

  9. Aswile

    I highly appreciate all the efforts invested on it. My concern is on the implementation. it will take us some years to cope up this new policy. The issue of language of instruction is not that clear!! Indeed, both languages are equally important, but the policy is some what mute on this.

  10. John mitwe

    I greatful to read this ed policy but it fail to reach the goal because most teachers who complete higher education they have no vocancy, why?

  11. Mwamtoro Mgaya

    The question of language is crucial and has not been addressed well. Whereas Kiswahili will be medium of instruction English will also be the medium of instruction for primary and secondary schools. What happens at college or university level? As someone also commented where are the funds to translate all the secondary school books into Kiswahili? Where are the translators who can translate gravitational force and centrifugal force into Kiswahili? Further where are the capable teachers who can teach antilogarithms and properties of Sulphuric Acid in Kiswahili? Lets be serious without language there is no education. Further, all neighbouring countries which are higher in the development index take 16 years for obtaining an ordinary degree. Do we sincerely believe that the majority of children from the rural areas will be able to cope?

  12. Daudi

    Of course, the contents of the policy are absolute good, the issue is how far has the government prepared to launch it if it has to start soon

      1. Petrol Emmanuel

        If education for self reliance is the case what about those people who do not have capital?

    1. Mgalla, Z

      A well written piece! However, the issue of language is very critical. In Primary school the language of instruction is Kiswahili. So, while we are celebrating on the emphasis in using Kiswahili as a language of instruction, we should also be aware that there are many children in lower classes in Primary school who cannot read in Kiswahili and there are some children who complete class 7 and join Secondary education while they cannot in Kiswahili or do a simple basic maths operations such as multiplications. So using Kiswahili in teaching can be beneficial if we also address challenges related to language teaching methodology in the classroom and how pupils can apply their Kiswahili literacy skills in learning other subjects at different levels.

  13. Rama Mwinyimbegu

    Myself I have a problem with the sources of revenue to back up the fee-free education, otherwize the policy is good.

  14. Beatrice

    You have good ideas and the policy are good. The problem is within implementations. Tanzanian leaders always are controlled by politics (ilani) if they will implement our education will step foward. Another thing is all about teacher training and teacher appreciation. The governmrnt didn`t listen the voice of teachers, undermined them and also undervalue their efforts so where did they get morale to teach our future deneration.

  15. karim ismail

    you can make educational plannes,programmes,projects and policy. But if teachers are not cared,motivated,given good salary and improved working environment.all these woult turn into fatal.let me tell you: many teachers in Tanzania have individual conflicts.

  16. Revocatus Barthazary

    It is the good ideas from the government which can help in the overcoming the different obstacles/problems that the country faced like shortage of skilled manpower, weak economy and other issues alike. But the question came on how the policy is going to be implemented because always we as a Tanzanian always we plan the different plans but at the end we fail to implement those plans just why for my side i call it” instead of planing to archive but we plan to fail “


    A good education should be the one which allows students to apply the knowledge they have been imparted in classrooms. Unfortunately, most policies are based on literature reviews, reiterating the past, and the past thoughts are gone.
    A good policy is crucial for educational improvements and for the creation of an independent mind of a person only if it has considered stakeholders’ views at the implementation level. Most policies have come with very good implementation strategies, but, the question is: Does the implementer of the policy/strategy is aware of the key milestones of the policy/strategy? Was the teacher involved in developing it; what ideas did the teacher (for example, a Mathematics or language teacher) give to policy makers? Were teachers ideas respected and incorporated in the final document? I do not think so.
    Let me pose this simple formula for educational improvements:
    AL= P + Q+A+R, where P=programmed knowledge (which most schools implant to students and students never get out of their mind boxes after graduation), Q= Questioning, something which have been forgotten by most policy makers. No questioning no critical mind, no critical thinkers, no intellectuals, A= Action or Implementation: this is the difficult stage in learning. When a student is not able to act or put in action of the learning from class, then the learning was a failure. You can verify this by yourself; look at level of unemployment for graduates whom we believe are learned individuals, but, majority face difficulty in putting their ideas in action. Why? The learning ended on “P”, the programming of students mind based on prescribed learning outcomes of the school curriculum. Was the practical side of the learning abandoned? And in the final analaysis, the “R” = reflection or knowledge comes in. Now the question is: At which stage of learning does true learning comes in? At P, Q, A or R? This implies that, if we teach our students not only to cram notes (P), but to question themselves (self discovery), act (practical) and reflect (search for life long learning) on what they learn in practice; we would have achieved a great charity in education.
    If all this is on our policies, we would have mined a gold.

    Thank you.

  18. Jonas Odillo

    The analysis togethe with most of the comments reflect the eagerness of few Tanzanians towards “ELIMU BORA”. I congraturate all of you my fellow Tanzanians for realizing the most drive that our country (Tanzania) needs for sustainable development. God bless patriotic Tanzanians.


    Let us first look it after election because weather we like or not politician are the final say for that

  20. Frank willium

    The objectives are as sweet as Queen-bee honey,implementation will turn upsides down,this is Tanzania

  21. Frank willium

    how can we achieve it via low salaries to educational agents,???,we are more likely swimming in the deep sea with little swimming competence,am so glad of the stated objectives,fulfilling those objectives become a nightmare,how are we building the coming digitized generation???,au ndo kaptura la MarXxxx???

  22. Anonymous


  23. Dinah Nkya

    The policy is nice; therefore implementation needs commitment and accountability of government leaders/officials in effective utilisation of resources to enhance allocation of sufficient budget to attain “Elimu Bora” and not Bora elimu” as it is. Moreover a new constitution is inevitable.


    Educational policy is friendly for the development of our society, but the main issue is to consider teachers who are the final implementers of the policy.Teachers should be given the first priority by solving their challenges to ensure that they implement the policy effectively because they are the one who knows the education challenges.


    The only thing to care mostly is focused on the POLICY MAKERS. Are the one to make sure that the policy’s objectives are implimented actionally.By so doing the Country will be in a successful position.But also the notion that Education Policy to be interfierd with Political matters will not have a chance in people’s mind.People have to trust the Government that, Improving Education system is possible.BUILDING NEW TANZANIA IS POSSIBLE.IT BEGINS WITH YOU.


    This New Ed.Policy is superb at face value.Shortfalls lie in implementation, even the past education and training policy (1995) wasn’t fully implemented, all this has to do with the economics of education. By its nature, education is the largest sector in the country and of necessity needs a lot of financial and human resource input to realize the set objectives. Where is the economic base ? Does our economic base correspond to the superstructure or we are just paying lip service ? I would be glad if the action plan were put in in place to match with what is narrated in the document. Finally, the teachers are not taken care of so who will implement it ? All variables should be looked into. THANKS.

  27. Amos Roman(TEKU)

    It might be good bt we must go beyond about some challenges like 1:how quality improved at all levels 2:improvement of performance in science, mathematics and English subjects.

  28. Anonymous

    The education policy (2015) is good if at all politics won’t be involved. However, early class has been recognized by the education policy although there are some efforts the government could do as an initial step of implementing the Nation Education Policy.It’s content is promising, encouraging and motivating if someone reads it deeply.But what am worried about is most of the curriculum implementer are not well trained to achieve the government nation policy as well as teaching and learning environment,teaching and learning resources and the general infrastructure for the early class. My question could be how many tutors who are competent with the early class content. Nacte in collaboration with the Ministry of education has tried to develop Early childhood care and education curriculum without considering the level of their (facilitators) tutors in colleges rather they did this by assumptions i wish for this two organs to have been done research for the betterment of our nation. THANK YOU

  29. Susan Mongalla

    Would you please share the English version of the new education policy? I would really appreciate it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am ingrained and optimistic to learn more.

  30. Mulokozi Innocent

    I thank God for the established policy and all those who put much of their effort to make sure the policy is provided but let us ask ourselves a simple question.,,,,,,,,,

  31. Maganga S Ngassa

    This a time to reveal my opinion on the use use of medium of instruction in secondary schools, The URT Education Policy 2014, State that basic education will use Kiswahili as a medium of instruction, this make some contractions to the education stakeholder which specific language to be used, and implementation of this policy is still zero due the reason does not depict the impacts in education system in Tanzania. Is my opinion to ministers concern this policy there need to make reform on it, otherwise we can not meet the education vision of 2025.
    All the best.
    Am, A stakeholder on Eduction and Educational Planning and Administration.

  32. Elizabeth Lukindo

    Sorry br i would like to know un official actors who participated on the current educatuon policy

  33. joseph hendry

    The policy is good, but what our government ignore always is the inclusion of stakeholders especially those who are responsible to implement those policies…there are tendency of separate planners and implementers so most of policy fail. The habit of taken officials in Dar es salaam to prepare the policy for whole country while did not aware about the situation in our village in upcountry many policy did not achieve its goals. The only solution is to pay attention to the implementers(teachers in different village in the interior where policy was expect to implemented)

  34. Ngamilaga Kiza

    In terms of language of instruction the policy is not flexible and it ignored the social cultural context consideration also there is contradictions that government emphasize Kiswahili as the the national identity but at the same time at secondary level and tertiary level kiswahili ignored to become as medium of instructions so to whom the identity will be?

  35. Julius Jackson sogoni (udsm)

    the world is changing yet our Tz needs to change.I glad to have seen that we are done with new Ed policy. my philosophy, is it new education policy going to make our people new?
    here I get bit confused. I love Swahili (nakipenda kiswahili) I found it our community gift.
    but English lge could be properly programed in learning in turn we would be integrated to the globe

  36. Hadija Mbelwa

    I appreciate for what you have researched, but even my self the issue of early pregnancy does not well accounted …mhm as the problem is still exist we need to open our eyes…

  37. Masumbuko zakaria

    lets not forget this is Tanzania. politics first & later on education. it is amazing, GOOD PLANS, GOOD STRATEGIES- POOR IMPLEMENTATION

  38. Petrol Emmanuel

    If education for self reliance is the case what about those people who do not have capital?


    The big problem of Tanzania is on the case of implimentation of some policy made remember “any policy without implimentation nothing would going to happen if you don’t try”

  40. Daniel johnson

    Thanks for your contribution but to may side I can say that in order to improve our Tanzania education curriculum first must be changed, through education number of subject through encouraging specialization from primary level to university to reduce the burden to learner instead of carrying many subject then other left within the journey

  41. Ruben VJM "MUCE"

    Of course the policy is good if and ony if will be implemented.! am doubting since it was launched Febr 2015, up to know almost 2yrs no any early stages of implementation.!

  42. Cleopatra

    Nice Piece! Can someone please share this latest Education Policy in English version? Thank you.

  43. Kiza Ngamilaga

    our education policy is dynamic due to political issue so each president with his government comes with new policy politically that makes our scholars to vary interms of capability. My advice to the ministry of education,it is important to have permanent education policy that cannot interfere with political issues also having permanent cabinet to deal with improvement of education issue .Thanks

  44. Gervas mmbaga

    Would you let know whether the free education stated in this policy is the one we are in today

  45. Gervas mmbaga

    Would let me know if the free education spoken in a policy is the one we are in todays


    It is good that the policy will consider contents/knowledge
    selection.subject specialists need to come up with well screened objectives and contents as per the level and avoid giving too much at lower primary levels.Poor evaluation procedures both formative and sumative that creates mass failures in external exams being std 7 or F4. What is the contribution of CA to final grade.For me i see the devil is in screening of knowledge and evaluation principles.


    =it’s content
    Please post it to my email if possible

  48. Salvius Njunwamungu Nsororo

    Anyone having this document please send to me through my e-mail 👉saliviusnsororo@614@gmail.com, because i need to be families to. Thank you

  49. Dr P. S. Kopweh

    Have not read the policy, but was told that primary kids will go for 6 years and not 7. Why is it that they are still doing 7 years? Has the policy been shelved?

  50. mwampamba tetas b

    i am not full familiality with the policy but what i know there is important for primary education to spend 7 year, as kids have fully develop mentally.


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