Information by Country

Tanzania, United Republic of: Background

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.
At 937,062 square kilometres, the United Republic of Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa. Long considered an oasis of stability in the region, it hosts the most refugees in Africa as an outcome of conflicts in neighbouring Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

The past decade has been marked by successful reforms and steady economic growth. Tanzania’s challenge for the future is to control the spread of AIDS and create better living conditions for the rural poor.

The United Republic of Tanzania was one of the ‘25 by 2005’ acceleration countries, a UNICEF initiative designed to intensify efforts in 25 countries in danger of missing the 2005 Millennium Development Goal of gender parity in primary education. Today, the country has roughly equal numbers of girls and boys enrolled in and attending primary school. The abolition of school fees in 2000 was an important initiative for getting children – both boys and girls – into school.

The 2002-2006 Primary Education Development Plan, supported through a sector-wide approach to planning, incorporates such measures as the construction of new schools and teachers’ housing, teacher recruitment drives and quality improvement through child-friendly teaching and learning – as well as Complimentary Basic Education in Tanzania (COBET), an initiative developed in 1997 to reach the immense number of over-age children waiting to enrol in standard schools. (COBET provides opportunities for out-of-school children to access quality basic education and survival skills, and places specific emphasis on enrolling girls.)

Barriers to girls’ education

  • Conducive learning environments – including girl-friendly facilities, such as sanitary latrines and clean water – are in short supply.
  • Child marriage and pregnancy prevent girls from finishing school. Pregnant students are often expelled, the pregnancy considered to be ‘their fault’.
  • Gender-biased socialization in school is prevalent, with girls often being called upon by teachers to perform such duties as fetching water. This reinforces gender stereotypes and takes time away from learning.
  • Despite the abolition of school fees, parents are often unable to meet other costs, posing a significant challenge for the retention of enrolled students.
  • Girls traditionally serve as caregivers and are burdened when AIDS strikes a family, preventing daughters from regular school attendance.

UNGEI in action

The UNGEI initiative was launched in the United Republic of Tanzania in November 2002. In collaboration with FAWE Tanzania, UNICEF supported a national forum in November 2004 to build partnerships and propose procedures for implementation of girls’ education strategies.

Key initiatives for girls’ education

  • Strengthening life-skills education that empowers children and adolescents to make informed choices.
  • Advocating for policy changes that support girls’ education rights and address such related issues as corporal punishment and student pregnancies.
  • Strengthening and sensitizing school committees and, in the process, strengthening school-community linkages.


CAMFED International (Campaign for Female Education), CARE Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam City Council, Early Childhood Development Network, FAWE Tanzania (Forum for African Women Educationalists), International Labour Organization (ILO), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Kiota Women’s Health and Development Organisation (KIWOHEDE), Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children, Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Ministry of Education Zanzibar, Plan International Tanzania, President’s Office - Regional Administration and Local Government, Save the Children Fund, Taaluma Women Group, Tanzania Education Network/Mtandao wa Elimu Tanzania (TENMET), Tanzania Gender Networking Programme, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), University of Dar Es Salaam, Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA), World Food Programme (WFP), World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO).

UNGEI within other national and international frameworks

UNGEI partners are active participants in sector-wide approaches to planning, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, Common Country Assessments and UN Development Assistance frameworks.
The Primary Education Development Plan uses the sector-wide approach to planning for education development.


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