Preprimary & Primary Education
Since independence, the primary, secondary school, vocational training, adult education, and university levels of education are self-contained and separate, though linked enough to insure smooth transitions between them. Many Tanzanian parents depend upon their children's labor to run their farms. Some cannot afford to hire workers. Taking this into account, Nyerere raised the entrance age for grammar school to age seven. This also meant that when students graduated, those who did not advance to secondary school were mature enough to begin working. Moreover, rather than prepare students solely to take secondary school entrance examination, primary school students also study trades, machine repair, and agriculture. Farms and workshops are now part of most Tanzanian primary schools. Food grown by the school is either consumed by school children themselves or sold to raise money to help support the school or pay teachers' salaries. Urban and rural children learn practical, as well as academic subjects. Due to the pent-up demand for education, primary school construction exploded after independence. So rapid was its growth that to meet the demand for teachers, grammar school graduates between the ages of 15 and 17 years often were induced to teach.
Primary education, since independence, has been free, compulsory, and universal. It extends from grade one through grade seven. Swahili is the language of instruction and Tanzania's national language as well. English is studied as a second language. Classes are offered five days per week, and most textbooks are locally published in both English and Swahili. Under the colonial system, students were forced to pass a national entrance examination for admission to grade five; this was abolished in 1968. Any child who is admitted to standard (grade) 1 is assured all seven years of primary education. In 1972 all primary school fees were abolished. Local authorities were encouraged to build primary schools as part of the self-reliance campaign. The policy of equal opportunity for schooling meant that the Tanzanian government concentrated its efforts in areas formerly considered underprivileged. Districts that had less than 50 percent of the classrooms required for primary school were given more aid.
An estimated 93 percent of primary school aged children attend school. This represents a remarkable improvement over the colonial system that never admitted more than 44 percent of those seeking primary education or 10 percent of the school age population. Colonial governments blocked and limited the growth of African educational opportunities; the opposite is true of independent Tanzania. At the primary level Tanzanians have clearly benefited from independence.
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