The year 2009 continued to be another in which the provision of education in Tanzania seemed to be a cart hitched to horses pulling in different directions, except whereas in years past this was a position only held by “fear-mongering” education activists, this year saw these connections being made by the public at large. The tug-of-war we are speaking of is that of quantity education versus quality education.
For years we have seen it coming. With the government striving to meet the international pressures of yet another ill-placed, one-size-fits-all, top-down initiative that will only devastate its own country, progression and regression have occurred simultaneously. Outside its boarders, Tanzania has become an MDG success story, touting a primary school net enrollment rate of 96% in 2009.1 While this is the progressive side of the Tanzanian education system, even it has its doubts: Such figures come from schools and the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MOEVT) and are typically accepted uncritically both nationally and internationally despite the obvious conflict of interests the government may have in inflating such numbers. A study carried out by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics that compared enrollment numbers provided by the Tanzanian government with those of household surveys found a discrepancy of 25 percentage points,2 meaning that while schools and MOEVT may report 96%
enrollment, it may very well be as low as 71% in reality.