Tanzania gets free secondary schooling

Tanzania's private schools told to reduce fees.

From January all children in Tanzania will have access to free primary and secondary school education, as part of a major overhaul of the education sector which began with the abolition of primary school fees in 2002.

The Tanzanian government has also ordered private schools to reduce fees ahead of the introduction of free universal basic education in Tanzania.

The current $19 annual secondary fee will be scrapped and the education ministry has also banned state schools from seeking financial donations from parents who are normally asked to contribute about $100 a year. Parents will still have to pay for school uniforms and books.

In another policy shift the government has warned that parents will be fined if they fail to ensure their children go to school, something which was never penalised in the past. The fine amount is not yet known.

The scrapping of primary school fees helped primary enrolment increase to 94 per cent of children aged 7 to 13 years in 2011, from 59 per cent in 2000, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

In February the government announced the gradual introduction of Swahili as the language of instruction, replacing English which will remain on the curriculum but will no longer be used by teachers to teach other subjects.