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Last update: 1 July 2022 h. 10:44
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Education for All: Bright prospects for Zanzibar

Zanzibaris have for several years in the past regarded themselves as the disadvantaged party in the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar - the United Republic of Tanzania. Zanzibar has recorded significant achievements in the 12-year-old Education for All Programme, says a United Nation’s report.
Zephaniah Musendo

Only in the year 2000 did the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba open their first university. However, tides seem to be changing in the 21st century and the clove islands are overtaking the giant mainland in education programming.

According to a United Nations report issued in Dar es Salaam in the first week of May, Zanzibar has recorded significant achievements in the 12-year-old Education for All Programme.

While enrollment of school-age children in Zanzibar has been approaching the internationally set target, Mainland Tanzania has lagged behind.

Quality education and education for all are some of the 10 development factors listed in the international strategy for poverty eradication in the poorest countries in the world, which was agreed upon at an international conference in 1990.

Enrollment of school age children in Zanzibar increased from 50.9 per cent in 1990 to 67 percent in 1997 - an increase of 16.1 percent in only seven years, says the UN report presented by Korhst Kohler, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Director who led the UN delegation to Tanzania.

In contrast, enrollment in Mainland Tanzania rose slightly from 54.2 per cent in 1990 to 57.1 percent in 1999 - a feeble increase of 2.9 percent.

From these facts, the UN says that it is a dream for the Mainland to achieve the international Education for All target - to enroll all school age children by the year 2015.

The international community agreed that by the year 2015 all school age children must not only be enrolled, but must also get quality education.

“At the present trend, Mainland Tanzania cannot implement the programme successfully and ensure that all school-age children are in school by the year 2015,'' the UN report says.

Zanzibar is being mentioned in the report as a nation that has made big strides in primary education and it is projected that should if it maintains the tempo, it will achieve the international goal of enrolling all school-age children by the year 2015.

The Mainland has not been doing well even in the revived Universal Primary Education this year, under which a total of 1.5 million children were earmarked to be enrolled for primary one this year.

Experience has shown that enrollment has not grown correspondingly with the number of classrooms, teachers and even school equipment. As a result classrooms have been overcrowded, ill-equipped and unmanageable by the few available trained teachers, forcing some of the children to learn under trees or sit on the floor.

"Enrollment by itself by overcrowding children in classrooms is not a measure of success in the education programme,'' says the UN report. "Most pupils in Mainland Tanzania repeat primary education and very few of those who complete it can read and write,'' the report says.

Even the Standard Seven pass mark is very low - less than 20 percent. Likewise the number of girl-children who are selected for secondary education is very low, compared to that of the boy-children although girls are given preference in selection.

Other shortcomings raised in the report as setbacks to the education programme include shortage of classrooms, poverty among parents and poor distribution of teachers - most of whom are posted in towns while rural schools are understaffed.

If Tanzania has to make a success in its poverty eradication programme, greater efforts in the provision of facilities and equipment and proper planning of project implementation must be made.

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