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Right to Free and Compulsory Education: A step to Reality in Tanzania

Monday, February 22, 2016 - 10:14


The government of Tanzania is embarking on provision of free and compulsory education for primary and lower secondary school levels. This has come as a realization of the president’s pledge during 2015 presidential   campaign. Recently the government has effectively started to implement free and compulsory education policy by issuing a circular on how it would be executed with effect from January 2016.

According to the government circular number 5 of December 2015, free education means that parents will not be compelled to pay any fee or other contribution in public primary and lower secondary schools, as  it used to be previously. The aim is to give opportunity to children from low income families to have access to free education as well as lessening parent’s burden of excessive fees and other contributions.

Previously, parents and guardians contributions in public schools was the main challenge because  for example secondary students were paying a school fees of 20,000 for day students and 40,000 for boarding students. Other costs were uniforms, stationaries, examinations etc. This caused higher % of dropout rates in the past five years due to lack of school fees and other school related expenses.

Therefore the Government  has set aside  a total of Tsh 137 billion to implement  free education for the first half of the year 2016 where over 18bilion Tsh were disbursed for the month of January to all schools across the country to be used for various education activities in both primary and lower secondary schools.

“ We have already issued directives to Council directors and education officers on the use of funds. Anyone who will misuse these funds will not be tolerated’’ Insisting Prime Minister Hon Kassim Majaliwa in one of his statements.

As a result of this announcement, one of the quick impacts observed is increased   enrolment of students from poor families and reduced teacher parents conflict over fee collection.

ActionAid Tanzania(AATZ) being one of education stakeholders, this is a major step to start with. In its new country strategic paper (2014-2018) AATZ has made a commitment to see 54,000 children  are able to  access their right to quality education through enhanced accountability by the government and other actors by 2018. AATZ believes to reach this commitment through, community mobilization to adopt and implement Promoting Rights in Schools Framework (PRS),Initiate and strengthen girls club in schools to ensure safe school environment for girls, and Promote peoples active participation in school governance where will have active school management committees, effective school barazas where children can discuss freely their issues and  parents & other members of community can participate in village meetings and discuss issues related to school development.

However free education is among of ten rights which is being promoted by ActionAid through Promoting Rights in Schools Framework(PRS); an initiatives aimed to secure free, compulsory, quality public education for all.

 Action for Children Rights in Education (ACRE II) project has been enrolled in five countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda Malawi and Ghana. For Tanzania ACRE project started implementation in July 2013 in districts of Chamwino,  Bagamoyo and Mafia with the main goal of; “Ensuring that children in the participating communities enjoy a good quality public education, where girls and boys are treated equally, and where their rights are respected”. The project interventions mainly focuses on  Increasing engagement of stakeholders on children's right to education at local and national level and Increasing transparency, accountability and child participation in school management processes. The project has succeeded to support establishment of school clubs in 35 schools in the three districts as well as training teachers on how to handle children with disability.

Through Promoting Quality Education through Progressive Domestic Resource Mobilization project funded by Norad, AATZ is working with National and local partners in Kilwa and Singida to raise awareness of the links between education and domestic resource mobilization, empowering key  key stakeholders to advocate fair taxation and increase funding for quality education in public  schools.

The project will conduct a baseline survey in Kilwa and Singida using PRS indicators to collect evidence at schools and community level about the extent to which the right to education is being fulfilled. This evidence will be used for informing the government on policy change and advocating for improvement at different levels.