Education in Tanzania: The Future

By Sophie Wilson


Welcome to Part II of this post on Education in Tanzania. In Part I, I asked:-

What are the challenges currently faced within Tanzania’s Education sector?

I talked about the sector’s key challenges, with specific focus on gender, equity and access inequalities, graduate unemployment, education quality, resource constraints and emotional wellbeing.  

In Part II, my question will be:-

Which trends present future opportunities for Tanzania’s Education sector?  

How far should our expectations for the future of Education in the Global North be reflected in sub-Saharan Africa and Tanzania? To what extent is this future ‘digital’? Will the sector ‘leapfrog’ traditional developmental curves and start embracing the benefits of technological change immediately?


Population and connectivity growth

The global population is expected to exceed 9 billion in 2050, with half of this growth expected to occur in Africa, according to the 2015 UN World Population Prospects [1].

Combined with improved infant mortality rates, this growth will increase the under-15 population, which today stands at 41% of the total population of Africa. The 27 most under-developed countries in Africa will also produce some of the highest fertility rates [1].

Sub-Saharan Africa has the fastest-growing school-age population of any region in the world – for every 100 primary and secondary-age student in 2014, in 2030 there will be 138 and 148 respectively [2]. This will dramatically increase demand on existing educational resources.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 14.42.33

Caption: Students at Mlimani Primary School, 2018

Already, there is a deficit of trained teachers on the continent. UNESCO has estimated that 70% of countries in sub-Saharan Africa face serious teacher shortages across primary and secondary schools, with this figure rising to 90% when looking solely at secondary schools. As a result, 17 million teachers will need to be recruited by 2030 in order to achieve universal primary and secondary education [2].

Yet alongside this growth in demand, there will be huge leaps in connectivity. 453 million people in Africa already have access to the internet, 35% of the continental population. The majority of these are young people. 23 million internet users live in Tanzania [3].

Internet access is not yet entirely equitable. 70% of the rural African population have no access and broadband connection remains very low; ½ of the population live more than 25km from the nearest fibre connection [2]. Yet despite these challenges, connectivity presents a sizeable opportunity for online learning.


‘Blended’ learning and technological advancement

‘Blended’ learning pairs online and offline resources to create a multi-media educational environment. Internet connectivity is the gateway to a host of free, online learning resources such as Coursera, Google Books and Khan Academy, enabling access to high-quality content and increased choice. The internet is transforming all aspects of conventional learning, from instruction to mentoring, from submitting assignments to sitting an exam.

This on-demand access also allows students the flexibility to set their own schedule outside of the classroom.  In addition, ability-based, personalised learning tools can customise the pace of learning as appropriate. Technology could also ensure that examinations become more transparent and standardised [4].

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 14.42.41

Access to free online resources could enable students to learn at a personalised pace

In some areas of the Global North, advanced technology such as augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing and AI may soon be applied to the Education sector [1]. Whilst these trends are perhaps overly-futuristic expectations for Tanzanian students, they provide an exciting suggestion of the direction of the industry.  

However, the Global North will continue to invest in web-based services and platforms which are free, and require no more physical infrastructure than a connected device. Students in Tanzania will benefit from trends like gamification and ‘edutainment’, learning techniques which will become continually integrated into Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Yet whilst connectivity and device access in Tanzania is expected to increase at a significant rate, the use of the internet as a tool for enhancing learning has not yet been systematically integrated into the formal Education sector [5].  


M-learning and social media

The fastest-growing and second-largest mobile phone market in the world today is Africa – mobile phone use has increased from 5% in 2003 to 73% in 2014 [6]. Yet though there are 650 million phone owners on the continent, Africa also currently has the lowest mobile penetration rate, indicating that there is plenty of growth still to come [2] [6].

The ubiquity of mobile phones and increasing rates of connectivity have meant that mobile-supported education, or ‘m-learning’, is starting to support and transform traditional teaching methods.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 14.42.56

M-learning could radically transform traditional teaching methods

Mobile technologies can be used to distribute more up-to-date educational reading materials to students. They also facilitate interactivity; students can comment directly on content, or connect digitally with other readers to enable peer-to-peer learning [7]. Short lessons, multiple-choice tests and audio recordings can be communicated via text message, whilst smartphones enable instantaneous sharing of video-media files [6].

M-learning supports contextual, informal and ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning [7]. In combination with social media tools, this presents further possibilities. Social media usage is experiencing a dramatic rise on the continent; as of 2017, there were 177 million Facebook users in Africa [3]. In Tanzania, there are 6 million users [3].  

Already, social networking sites are being used by teachers to distribute resources and host discussions. Communities such as Studentscircle and Brainshare are providing students with communities for learning [7]. These virtual tools are invaluable for geographically dispersed students, as they allow them to access content and participate in discussions instantaneously.

Remote tutoring, improved teacher-parent communication and more efficient administration are amongst the additional possibilities of mobile-assisted education [7].


Redefining the classroom: a new infrastructure

The arrival of new digital technologies may come to ease constraints on infrastructure and staffing. The classroom, once the locus of curriculum delivery and student-teacher interaction, is being fundamentally redefined.

As online programs and virtual certification processes start to complement classroom-based learning, student participation will soon require just three core resources: a laptop, camera and Wi-Fi connection [1]. These could eventually reduce pressure on demand for textbooks, classrooms and teachers.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 14.43.03

CDI and Kite DSM’s 2018 initiative KompyutHER aims to teach practical computer skills to out-of-school girls

The blend of formal, informal and non-formal approaches and the requirement for youth to develop more entrepreneurial and contextual employment skills will ‘flip’ the traditional role of the classroom: theory will be learned outside and online through personal devices, whilst practical skills will be face-to-face, interactive and class-based [1].

The success of these approaches will depend on the continued adoption of new technologies and the commitment of teachers on adapting to these new approaches [1].


Reshaping school curricula and learning by ‘doing’

Equally, success will depend on the capacity of the Government of Tanzania (GoT) to adapt to these new changes. But the GoT must support transformation in content and curriculum, and promote technology as a means of learning. What is taught must be reshaped and re-defined.

Part I of this post called out skills mismatch amongst young Tanzanian graduates as a cause for concern. This reflects a trend in the changing demands of the job market; employers now seek graduates with strong problem-solving capabilities and social skills, who are entrepreneurially-minded and adaptable.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 14.43.14

Effects of noncognitive and cognitive skills on youth prospects [8] 

Relative to cognitive skills, social skills and extracurricular activities are becoming increasingly important indicators of earnings and employment prospects for graduates [8]. This trend is evident in Tanzania.

Alongside the ‘3Rs’, data interpretation, logic and reasoning are expected to become increasingly important skills [4]. Yet with access to MOOCs and online courses, and encouragement from teachers, students will increasingly be able to tailor their own learning and fill knowledge ‘gaps’.

Tanzania Institute of Education (TEA) has altered the secondary school curriculum to include new subjects such as computer literacy, unified science and social skills [9]. Tanzania’s Education Sector Development Plan for 2016/17 to 2020/21 also puts specific emphasis on technical and vocational learning. Emphasis on ‘experiential’ learning in the government’s strategy for education is a step in the right direction.

KompyutHER is an initiative launched in 2018 by the CDI and Kite DSM Education team. It aims to improve computer literacy amongst out-of-school girls, to improve their employability. This complements programmes such as She Codes for ChangeBuni DivazBRAC, and TechChix in Tanzania,  which aim to build coding skills amongst female youth [10].


‘Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will wake the world’ – Napoleon Bonaparte


China-Africa cooperation on Education is increasing. Less than 2,000 African students studied in China in 2003, increasing to 50,000 in 2015 [11]. For anglophone African students studying abroad, China has overtaken the UK and the US as the top destination of study.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 14.43.21

African student numbers in China have jumped in the last few years [11]

This reflects a new geopolitical dynamic taking place between Africa and China. According to Quartz Africa, “providing education to Africans is an extension of China’s soft power […] the experience that these students get in China can translate into a willingness to work with China and view China’s internal or external policies favourably in the future” [11].

For African students it represents affordable study, the chance to develop business connections and to learn the culture and language of a rising power.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 14.43.31

Top Sources of African Students in China [12]

Tanzania is now the third-largest source of African students studying in China [12]. Collaboration is also evident at the primary level – two modern primary schools were recently built on university campuses in Dar es Salaam at a cost of $3.2 million in 2016 [13]. In future years, it is likely that diplomatic ties with China will continue to shape Education in Tanzania.




CDI and Kite’s work in 2018 has tried to remain mindful of these growing trends, whilst directly tackling some of the problems faced by the sector, as explored in Part I.

Our initiatives in 2018 address a diverse range of issues, from emotional wellbeing amongst 16-18 year olds, to primary school students’ need to learn English; from low tech-literacy rates to the absent soft-skills and entrepreneurial training that older students require to thrive in the job market. You can find out more here.

Yet Part II perhaps indicates where CDI and Kite should look next. From m-learning and social media-assisted education to teacher training and integrating online resources into existing curricula, there are many potential areas for fruitful collaboration.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on the challenges and opportunities of the Education sector in Tanzania. If you missed Part I, be sure to check it out!



[1] Eszter Polyák et al. 2017. The Future of Education. Geopolitika.

[2] Steve Vosloo. 2014. The future of education in Africa is mobile. BBC.

[3] Internet World Stats. 2017. Internet users statistics for Africa..

[4] Christiaan Henny. 2016. 9 Things That Will Shape The Future Of Education: What Learning Will Look Like In 20 Years? eLearning Industry.

[5] Yomi Kazeem. 2017. Mobile subscriptions are still growing faster in Sub Saharan Africa than anywhere else. Quartz Africa.

[6] Rohen d’Aiglepierre et al. 2017. Digital technology can help reinvent basic education in Africa. Quartz Africa.

[7] Steve Vosloo. 2014. The future of education in Africa is mobile. BBC.

[8] Ishwar Puri. 2018. Is the future of education learning by doing? World Economic Forum.

[9] Esther Kibakaya. 2017. When your skills are not relevant in the job market. The Citizen  

[10] Abdi Latif Dahir. 2018. How Tanzania is betting on coding to help close the gender gap in its tech sector. Quartz Africa.

[11] Victoria Breeze et al. 2017. China has overtaken the US and UK as the top destination for anglophone African students. Quartz Africa.

[12] China Power Team. 2017. Is China both a source and hub for international students? China Power.

[13] Xinhua. 2016. China builds schools in Tanzania as Sino-Africa ties deepen. Xinhua Net.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s