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The Importance of Education in Tanzania

Posted by: Danielle L.
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Tanzania is a developing country with lots of room for growth. The country is filled with exotic wildlife, natural wonders, beautiful landscapes, rich culture, and ancient cities. Even with these great characteristics, the country is drastically lacking in the educational front of things. For many years, Tanzania has set aside the importance of education and focused on pressing economic issues, but what the leaders do not realize is that developing the education system will actually help improve the entire welfare of the country. If the education system is prioritized on the list of straining issues for the country, then this will allow students to focus on certain aspects of their education, such as learning English. If students are able to start studying English at an early age they will be able to gain critical English language skills and be more likely to continue this language growth in the future. Knowing English is vital to the economic growth of a country and Tanzania needs the help of knowledgeable volunteers to assist teachers as they prepare these children for a brighter future. 

Female volunteer with three Muslim students in Zanzibar

Although the importance of English is undeniable, there seems to be a lack of focus on the educational sector because the country centers its time on improving its tourism and gold economies which are quite prosperous. Furthermore, the country is a very popular traveler destination. Interestingly enough, despite this growth in the tourism industry, Tanzania remains one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Many Tanzanian families sadly live below the poverty line. In contempt with all of this information, the country has a lot of economic potentials, but there are a few flaws in the education system that must be dealt with first in order for Tanzania to reach its full potential. 
 
It is hard for the Tanzanian government to focus on reforming the education system when other serious problems continue to persist within the country. The quality of life in Tanzania is not as high as many of the other developed countries around the world and Tanzania is still working to improve this. Although there are certain economic areas of industries that are prosperous within the country, this is not enough to sustain a higher quality of life for most citizens. With the focus remaining on improving living conditions, health and safety, while moving families out from below the poverty line, Tanzania needs our help to develop and sustain a functional educational system for the youth. Education is pivotal to the development of a country and can help lift the children raised in poverty to middle- or upper-class citizens. If more of these children are able to actually learn from the beginning, then the positive effect of education will be able to prevail over the country.

Male volunteer teaching children in Zanzibar

The educational system in Tanzania needs improvement and the government and people of Tanzania are working to build a better system that provides the youth with better learning environments and higher standards of learning. It is difficult for the country to make education a priority as they are juggling lots of other public health and safety needs at the same time, but the new president is making education is taking deliberate actions. In 2015 president Magufuli initiated a new policy that extends the threshold of basic education. He declared that all necessary funding will be sent directly to the schools and advises schools to use the money wisely. Despite the increase in monetary assistance from the government, nearly half of the citizens believe that the monetary contributions given by parents are not used as intended. Citizens believe that this type of contribution is not government authorized and more than half of the population believes that the money contributed is misused. They believe teachers take this money graciously donated by the parents of the children and use it as a source of personal gain. In other words, the teachers pocket these funds and use them as personal income.

Access to education is not the only challenge facing Tanzania’s education system. The quality of this education is also vital. Children may be in school, but they are not always learning. There is no value to the citizens or to the country as a whole if the children are attending school but are not actually learning anything in the process. There have been numerous surveys and reports that display the children’s inability to read past certain standard English levels and inability to pass basic level English exams. Too many students are being left behind only to move up with the rest of the students and fall further and further behind each year. These students not only fall behind in their reading and writing skills but also their overall cognitive ability leaving them with a clear disadvantage. Many of these children are already facing problems at home and are now challenged with catching up with the other students at their age level.  
 
A child reading at a volunteer teaching program in Zanzibar, Africa

There is no better way to get involved and show your compassion for a project than devoting your time. If you are passionate about educational reform and community development, then come share your knowledge in an underprivileged community. In many cases, the youth in Tanzania have the drive to learn but do not have the necessary resources or staff to learn from. It is a pity that these children with aspirations to learn are denied the right based on the poor economic status of their home. Many of these children have such hard-working attributes and would thrive in a proper learning environment. For these reasons, programs have been developed to help these children reach their academic aspirations. Programs like the Kilimanjaro teaching and community development trip are designed to bring educated and positive volunteers to these underdeveloped areas. The volunteers are able to assist the town in many ways. Not only do they serve as educators, but also as an inspiration to the youth. As the youth affiliate themselves and learn from the volunteers they are able to use them as motivation for a brighter future. Each volunteer comes with their own unique history, educational background, and social status and they are able to share these stories with community members. Any bit of outside knowledge and resources are extremely important to the growth of these impoverished communities. Community members rely on educated and thoughtful volunteers to bring new sources of knowledge and intellect. It is truly amazing to see the positive influence the volunteers can leave on the community even after a short period of involvement.
 
These programs are focused on positive reinforcement. Volunteers help bring hope to these neglected children and show them that there is an opportunity for a better more prosperous future. With the help of education, these children who were raised in extreme poverty are able to move up the societal ladder. With these new and improved sources of education, the youth can make more informed decisions, improve their cognitive abilities, and bring about economic and societal reform. A country cannot expect economic growth and expansion without providing a sound educational foundation. More specifically, education lays the foundation for a successful career and life. English plays a vital role in the business society and without English language skills, it is hard for businesses and employers to advance. Businesses need managers, employees, and corporate officials to speak English to communicate with larger organizations outside of their country and advance into world markets. Evidence shows that the higher the percentage of students pursuing a higher education correlates to the economic status of a country. Normally, the more years of education, the more prosperous an economy is. Therefore, if Tanzania is able to establish a strong education system from the beginning then more of these students will have the ability, resources, and drive to enroll in schools with advanced degrees and higher standards of learning.

Two volunteers teaching a superstar student in Zanzibar, Africa

Not only does education increase the economic prosperity of a country it also serves a role in enhancing social mobility within classes. People coming from generations of hardship may be able to bring themselves and their families out of poverty with the help of education. If a strong educational system is developed then more and more young children will have the opportunity to attend schooling which in turn increases their potential to be successful in life and move up the social ladder bringing their family out of poverty as well. With a strong educational foundation, more children will be encouraged to attend school instead of starting work right away to help the family through economic adversities. In general, education can be the factor that alters a long line of economic misfortune bringing these families out of deprivation bringing about a more stable financial status. 
 
If this topic sparks your interest, then there is a program designed for you to get directly involved - the Kilimanjaro Teaching & Community Involvement program. During this project, volunteers will help teach English to children, teachers, and other community leaders and improve their language dexterity. Other vital work includes helping HIV/AIDs organizations established in the area raise awareness in the community and rural areas. Lastly, volunteers will play a pivotal role in women's power movement. Volunteers have the opportunity to help strengthen and promote women’s empowerment in an area that seems to look over this serious topic. If more hands-on work is your forte, there are options catered to you. You will still play a very important role in improving the educational system by providing construction and building skills. Volunteers looking to remain active and work with their hands will assist in building and improving educational facilities in the local community. Spaces are limited to fourteen spots so take initiative now and secure your spot on this influential adventure to the beautifully diverse country of Tanzania. 

A second, and very popular, English teaching program is Zanzibar Community Outreach in Zanzibar. Volunteers work in the educational system and help to strengthen and promote women's empowerment in a local village!