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In December 2015, Tanzania’s new government took a crucial step. It abolished all school fees and “contributions” additional fees charged by schools to pay for the schools’ running costs previously required to enter lower-secondary schools in the country. According to the government, secondary school enrollment has significantly increased as a result. “
Ensure that all schools implement Education Circular No. 5 of 2015, the government’s policy on the removal of fees and contributions and monitor compliance”. The abolition of school fees is one of the most important actions taken by the government to implement its ambitious education goals. Tanzania’s 2014 Education and Training policy aims to increase access to primary and secondary education, and to improve the quality of education. These goals are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a United Nations initiative which sets a target for all countries to offer all children free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education by 2030. The goals are also in line with Tanzania’s international and regional human rights obligations to realize the right to primary and secondary education for all.
Primary School Exam Policy Blocks Access to Secondary Education: The government controls the number of students who enter secondary education by relying on the Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE), an exam at the end of primary school. The government only allows students who pass the exam to proceed on to secondary school and it cannot be re-taken, meaning children who fail cannot continue with formal schooling and often drop out without completing the last year of primary education. Since 2012, more than 1.6 million adolescents have been barred from secondary education due to their exam results.
In 2000, there were only 927 secondary schools in Tanzania Mainland. By 2004, at the start of the Secondary Education Development Plan (SEDP) the number of schools had increased to 1,291. Following the implementation of SEDP, coupled with the policy directive to construct secondary schools in each ward in the country, the number of secondary schools had increased to 4,576 by 2013. These expansions led to a remarkable increase in secondary school enrolment from 238,194 in 2000 to 1,804,056 in 2013. For example, towards the end of SEDP, enrolment in secondary schools grew by 20 per cent between 2007 and 2008 (from 1,020,510 to 1,222,403) and by 24 per cent between 2009 and 2010 (from 1,317,276 to 1,638,699). Enrolment actually decreased in 2013 to 1,804,056 from 1,884,272 the previous year. These trends subsequently led to GER increasing from 7 percent in 2002 to 32 per cent in 2013 while NER increased by five times in eight years from 6 per cent in 2002 to 30 per cent in 2010 but had declined to 29 per cent by 2013.
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