Where is Tanzania?
Tanzania is located in East Africa on the Indian Ocean. There are 8 countries that border Tanzania: Kenya and Uganda to the North; Rwanda, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of the Congo to the West; and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the South. Click here for a map.
How Many People live in Tanzania?
As of July 2014, there are over 49 million people living in Tanzania and of those, 3.1 million are orphaned. 64% of the population is under the age of 25.
What language do Tanzanians speak?
Swahili is the official Tanzanian language, although English is taught in schools and it is the official language for commerce, government and higher education. Most people in larger cities and who have higher education speak English. On the island of Zanzibar, off the coast of mainland Tanzania, Arabic is mostly spoken. There are also many different local languages and dialects within different communities throughout Tanzania.
Tanzania is ranked in the bottom 20 countries in the world and one of the poorest economies. 36% of the population lives below the poverty line. Tanzania’s economy is predominately agricultural, cash crops include coffee, tea, cashews, tobacco, sugarcane, bananas, corn, and cassava. Agriculture makes up 40% of the GDP, provides 85% of the exports and employs 80% of the workforce. While the economy depends on agriculture it thrives on gold production and tourism.
Education System in Tanzania
In Tanzania, School is voluntary and viewed with great respect by children and parents. It is the gateway to a better future and taken very seriously.
Former President, Julius Nyerere, placed a great importance on education. He made primary education required and funded the construction of village schools. The outcome was that, by the late 1980s, Tanzania’s literacy rate was one of the highest in Africa. But, following Nyerere’s failed agrarian socialism policies, the government funding of primary schools ended. In order for the schools to continue educating children and paying teachers’ salaries, students had to now pay fees which made school an impossible luxury for the poorest children and school enrollment quickly fell.
Although (public/government) primary school is free and 85% of children enroll, only about 65% graduate and, of them just 5% complete their secondary education. While public, government primary school is free, secondary school is not, this accounts for the drastic fall in number of students graduating secondary school. Also, to note, even with free schooling the student is required to buy the uniform, books, and other school supplies.
In certain cultures, particularly among the rural communities, it is considered pointless to educate female children as many of them are destined for an arranged marriage when they reach puberty (Winks, 2014).
Overview of the Education System
Pre-primary School: equivalent to preschool in the US
Primary School: equivalent to elementary and middle school in the US (Grades 1-7)
- Primary school is broken down into Standards (1-7)
Secondary School: equivalent to high school in the US (Grades 8-13)
- Secondary school is broken down into Forms (1-4 and 5-6)
- Form 1-4 (grades 8-11)
- Form 5 and 6 (grades 12 and 13)
What is the National Examination?
An exam that is taken by every student in the country. It determines a student’s educational future. The exam typically covers 4 years’ worth of material on 10 subjects.
The first major set of national exams is at the end of Primary School. Students must pass to continue onto Secondary School. The second major set of exams is after Form 4 and again students must pass it to continue onto Form 5.
Winks, Q. (2014). Culture Smart Tanzania. London: Kuperard.
Women in Tanzania Society
Today, the disparity in status between men and women is rooted in generations of patriarchal society. Women living in Tanzania are greatly marginalized. Many girls are pulled out of school first if their families cannot afford to send all of their children to school. The girls stay home to help with the younger children, family chores and duties, while boys are revered and most families keep them in school. Girls are also still expected to marry and start having children of their own at a young age, while still cooking, cleaning and perhaps working a job. (Marriages in Tanzania are often arranged and dowries are paid to the groom’s family.)
Women lack the education and have low literacy rates which are reflected by their low profile in national politics and business. The government is trying to improve the status of women overall by increasing the number of women’s seats in the parliament and has included women in decision-making at the national levels. “While women are allowed to vote, produce goods for market, engage in trade, and keep some of their earnings, the campaign against discrimination is mostly a fight in the public sphere. In reality, life for most women is still far from easy (Winks, 2014).”
Winks, Q. (2014). Culture Smart Tanzania. London: Kuperard.
What is there to see and do in Tanzania?
Besides hanging out and teaching the kids and helping with widow projects?
Tanzania is a beautiful country. You can go on safari in the Serengeti or Mikumi to try to see if you can find the “Big 5” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo), camp in the Ngorongoro Crater, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (the tallest point in Africa), visit Lake Victoria (the world’s second largest freshwater lake), or check out the tropical island paradise at Zanzibar. There are many quality safaris and travel organizations to choose from.
What is the climate like?
As Tanzania is located just south of the equator, the climate is hot and humid. Rather than having four distinct “seasons,” Tanzania has rainy and dry seasons. The main rainy season is typically between March and May, although increasingly the weather in Africa is becoming unpredictable. Tropical downpours are typical in the afternoons. June-Oct is the long dry season, followed by the “short rains” in Nov-Dec, which are much lighter than during the rainy season. Jan-Feb are usually the hottest. Temperatures average 30°C (86°F) and above during the day, and 19°C (66°F) and above at night. Temperatures of 38°C (100°F) or more are common during the afternoons. For more comprehensive climate information, see BBC Weather Guide and scroll down for “Tanzania.” If you are traveling in one of the mountainous, remote regions, temperatures can plunge to 4°C (39°F) at night, yet turn quite warm during the day.
What are the meals like in Tanzania?
Meals are simple, delicious, and cooked over a charcoal fire. Common dishes might include the national dish, ugali, a mixture of maize, flour and water and is similar to corn-meal, chapati (Indian flat bread), mandazi (raised fried bread), chips mayai (a french fry omelet), stir-fried cabbage and carrots, eggs, rice, fried potatoes, red beans, stewed greens, fish, chicken, stewed tomatoes, onions, avocados, papaya, bananas, plantains, and cassava root.