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Education programs help Tanzanian youth bridge the digital divide

Education is a key component of the Government of Tanzania’s development agenda. The country has made significant gains in access and equity in primary education, and today Tanzania has one of the highest net enrollment ratios in Africa, with girls’ enrollment very close to parity with boys’ at all primary education levels. 

Despite these successes, many challenges persist related to retention, completion and transition to secondary education, as well as quality of education, actual learning outcomes and the relevance of skills that graduates bring to the economy. Many children enrolled in school drop out before completing primary education, especially girls. At higher levels of the education system, the situation is even worse: the net enrollment rate for lower secondary education is 30.8 percent, and for upper secondary education only 1.9 percent. The results of a study on the quality of education showed that when Tanzanian children finish primary level their performance is extremely poor with seven out of every ten children unable to read basic Swahili and nine out of every ten children unable to read basic English.

Launched in 2011, Tanzania 21st Century (TZ21) provides assistance to the Tanzanian Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to improve child learning outcomes in lower primary school in Tanzania and Zanzibar. In Mtwara and Zanzibar, the TZ21 program initially focused on designing localized e-curricula in reading, math and science. There is a new focus on reading brought about by the USAID Global Education Strategy,  with a concentration on instructional methods and materials on reading, for grades 1 and 2, including direct, synthetic phonics instruction, while promoting reading across the curriculum for Grades 3 and 4. The TZ21 is equipping primary schools and teacher resource centers across Mtwara and Zanzibar with information technologies, and schools are equipped with an Education Management Information System, as well as training on how to use them.

USAID has received in-kind contributions from two U.S. companies—Intel and Microsoft—and two Tanzanian companies—UhuruOne and Zantel—to integrate technology in all primary schools in Zanzibar and the traditionally underdeveloped Mtwara region. The program is designed to enhance the quality of education for primary school students in reading as well as enable Tanzanian children to cross the digital divide. 

During 2012, U.S. assistance to Tanzania increased access to basic education for almost 285,000 students, more than half of whom were girls and also provided secondary school scholarships for 700 girls from disadvantaged communities. Additionally, USAID supported an adult literacy program, which empowered 3,600 Maasai women to start their own businesses and secure land rights.

Last updated: September 09, 2016

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