21st Century Basic Education Project

Tanzania is successfully encouraging children to go to school. For example, enrollment climbed from 59 percent in 2000 to 96 percent in 2010 on mainland Tanzania. This rapid influx of students has generated significant challenges to educational quality, while teaching methods were not conducive to developing problem-solving and critical thinking among students. Teachers needed more training, support and technology in order to be effective.

The Tanzania 21st Century Basic Education Project is improving classroom instruction in 900 lower primary schools in the Mtwara region and the islands of Pemba and Unguja in Zanzibar. It supports Tanzania’s efforts to improve learning outcomes—especially early grade reading in Kiswahili—through teacher support and training, technology in the classroom, and community engagement. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The program provides focused technical assistance and professional support to school administrators and education officials. Teachers receive professional development in child-centered, active-learning pedagogy, as well as phonics-based reading instruction, classroom management and incorporating e-content into lessons. It is introducing information communications technology and training into schools, which brings classrooms into the 21st century.

The Tanzania 21st Century Basic Education Project also works with communities to ensure relevant, helpful educational data is being collected. The information is used to help parents, community leaders and education officials to make better decisions about education. It also provides technical and material support to Tanzania’s Ministry of Education and Vocational Training through access to real-time information on the status of their schools and the performance of their students.

It is already creating a greater culture of reading in Tanzanian schools, boosting community engagement and parental support for learning, and creating positive and engaging classrooms.


Tanzania’s 2002 decision to offer free primary education led to a surge in school enrollment—jumping from only 59 percent of primary school-aged students enrolled in 2000 to 96 percent in 2010 on the mainland and nearly 80 percent on Zanzibar. More students in school did not result in better achievement. In 2013, only 5 percent of Tanzanian first graders could pass a Swahili test.

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