Letters to the editor

3 ways to invest in education

I am writing today about what I have learned about the Tanzanian education system. Although there has been improvement with the education in Tanzania, often children are not receiving good quality schooling. One of the main reasons for this is little investment. Tanzania is the largest East African country geographically and by population, and the second largest by its economy, yet it only uses 1.4% of its Gross Domestic Product on education, less than half of the percentage of every other East African country (Citizen 2014).

Education is one of the basic rights for children. My research has shown that the Tanzanian teacher’s situation, training, and teaching methods is one of the most critical issues. Teachers have limited education, and many have only finished Form 4 (11th grade). After that, there are only around 2 years of teacher training, which means the teachers usually have limited education. On top of that, teachers have a low salary, despite the fact that they work 52 hours a week instead of the usual 40 hours. Often they cannot send their own children to secondary because of this. The teaching methods are in need of improvement as well. Teachers usually teach lessons based on the examinations rather than on other, important skills. Also, students are taught to memorize answers to questions, instead of understanding why the questions should be answered that way, which is unfortunate as often children do not fully understand the concepts of the subjects they are learning. But we must remember this is not the teacher’s fault. They are not to blame for any of these issues, or the many other problems with their situation, training, and teaching methods.

Many organizations, as well as the government, are working to improve the Tanzanian education system, including the Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU), HakiElimu, and the Teacher Education Department of the Ministry of Education. However, Tanzanian education could still use some improvement, and any action that will help will contribute to Tanzania becoming a well educated country. Here are a few ways you can help improve Tanzanian education.

The government – Invest more in education. By doing this, the improvement of the education in Tanzania will accelerate, and, because of a more educated community, poverty will decrease.

Parents – Be involved in your child’s education. Education is one of the most important parts of your child’s life, and will shape their future. Make sure your child is receiving the best education possible, and help your children in their studies to the full extent of your abilities.

Anyone willing to help – Take action with a local community or school. Support an organization. Do research on some of the main issues on Tanzanian education, and inspire others to help your cause. Every action taken will be able to help, and, no matter how small your effort, you will become part of the group of people who have helped to improve Tanzanian education.


Munir Kudrati-Plummer,
Grade 5 student
International School of Tanganyika

Stand up for education

Children need an education! No matter what age, race, height, or anything, we should all be taught!

I am a 5th grade student at the International School of Tanganyika. For our end of the year project, this Final Exhibition, I chose to focus on Children’s Rights to education as that is a problem here. I would like you to help me spread the word about children’s education in Tanzania.

Although the right to education is recognized here, not all children have a good one. For example, students at rural schools don’t have as many learning opportunities as students at a school such as IST. When I visited a school in Bagamoyo, students told me that they only learn math, reading, English, and Kiswahili. Here at IST, we have other classes such as art, PE, music, and Unit of Inquiry, which are challenging yet fun. Students also told me they wished for more facilities such as a science lab, a sports equipment storage room, a canteen, and a pool. I feel like schools should be a place to relax and have fun, like at IST. Learning shouldn’t be pressurizing, or boring or anything like that. Maybe you can’t help schools directly, but people around Tanzania can also help by making donations, volunteering at schools, and even understanding how schools can be so different here. If many people in Tanzania stand up for education, I believe that many more children will have a chance to be in a good school.

Celina Izar-Thompson

Educated girls know their rights

I am a grade 5 student at the International School of Tanganyika. A few weeks ago I started a important project called the Final X, this project is a significant part of grade 5 since it helps us transition from elementary schooling to secondary schooling. I have decided to enquire into children’s right to education , with my 2 other group mates, I specifically was learning about girls right to education. I have found interesting facts and figures and would like to share it with the Dar community so they are inspired to try and help those who need support.

In many poverty-stricken countries girls are forced to get married and take care of the household instead of going to school. According to “Girls Not Brides.Org”, “Tanzania has the one of the highest child marriage prevalence rate compared to the world.” This means child marriage is very common in Tanzania. This upsets me and I hope Tanzania will hold rankings for stuff like “Most Beautiful Country, Most Clean Country” instead of highest highest child marriage prevalence rate compared to the world. There are many reasons for child marriage but the most common are girls being seen as financial burdens, cultural and traditional and gender-based inequality. In Tanzania girls are traded for cows, a documentary called “Bride-Trade” stated a non-educated girl will be traded for up to 10 cows but an educated girl worth only 5-7 cows. This because an educated girl knows her rights and will demand to go back to school and stop the marriage.

Many girls and boys live in unimaginable poverty, and have no time and/or no money to go to school. Instead they have many other responsibilities such as collecting water, tending to animals and caring for younger siblings. Other times, children must work and earn only a few coins a day, barely enough to support their families. According to “GirlsNotBrides.org” poverty and education are connected. If a girl is educated she will gain the basic skills and opportunities to lift her family out of poverty. Other families will see this and take the same approach, this cycle will slowly lift thousands of people out of poverty. By educating this generation and generations to come we can end the cycle of poverty once and for all. In Tanzania poverty seems common (from observing villages and rural areas), so by having more girls in school we can lift more families out of poverty.

People don’t understand how important educating girls is to the community. There are endless advantages to educating a girl as well as educating boys. A big advantage is educated girls can contribute to communities by becoming lawyers, doctors, teachers and much more and earn more money to support their families. Another advantage is educated woman has a chance to lift her and her family out of poverty. The final advantage is educating more women can end child marriage completely because girls know they have the right to a education and should not be forced to get married. If every girl in the world had a basic schooling, our whole world would benefit from it.

In conclusion, there are many advantages to educating a girl child. In the future girls can contribute to society because they have the schooling and resources to become teachers, lawyers, doctors and more. Educated women can lift their families out of poverty by encouraging her village or town to overcome the poverty. Finally, educating girls on their basic human rights, to education and the right to refuse marriage, can end child marriage. These are just three of the many advantages of educating a girl.

Khushi Devani

Thanks for concerned, helpful police

Once again this weekend I got to see the concerned and helpful side of Tanzanian police.

As I was leaving church yesterday, my motorcycle broke down in a busy intersection.

Because I was en route to a meeting and all three of the fundis/mechanics I know were traveling over the weekend, my only option was to leave my bike with the police at the checkpoint there (admittedly with a bit of fear and trepidation).

However, when I returned an hour later, they had found a fundi and my bike was fixed and ready to go.

Everyone around/involved was friendly, kind, and helpful.

-Abigail Snyder

The winner and the loser

To the huge nation’s mood relief, the much anticipated ‘Day of Defiance’ got called off. Phew, I can’t recall when was the last time my anxiety level was such high. Not even during the elections time.

Back in October, never did police hold any exercises in public ahead of rallies, did they?

But now that our adrenaline rush is at a normal rate, perhaps it’s high time we sit back and reflect. 

First of, It was quite astonishing to read some tweets dismissing Chadema as ‘a bunch of cowards!’ Some went even far and suggest that the only true opposition champ in East Africa is Uganda’s Kizza Besigye!

I mean, with all those tensions hovering around some still dared Ukuta to be held?

Ukuta may have been canceled, but If anything, the movement widely exposed the current’s government attitude towards opposition and country’s prospects for democracy at large

Think about this: Over 250 Chadema supporters and leaders arrested, two radio stations shut down and police exercising in public, all of these because of political rallies? How unnecessary

On the other hand, if there is one lesson that Chadema, and the opposition at large, has learnt is that; times have changed.

Gone are the days when the opposition would easily be invited over to the state house and chat their quarrels over a cup of chai with the head of state

This is the new guide, one with no sympathetic ear for any sort of political negotiations and compromises, it appears.

And what does that mean to the opposition? Simple; its time they changed their strategy of doing politics.

Chadema may have told their followers that they’ve ‘just postponed’ the rallies, but its highly unlikely that they’ll ever get to organize those rallies next month as they’ve promised.

Now you ask ‘Who is the winner and who is the loser’? Well you decide.

-M Makotta

This can be your legacy

Your Excellency the President of Tanzania, congratulations on your election to the Presidency.

We write today as concerned citizens of Tanzania to bring to your attention an issue that causes us great concern: the drastic decline in Tanzania’s elephant population due to poaching for the illegal ivory trade.

Fifty years ago, there were up to 300,000 elephants in Tanzania. In 2009, there were 109,000. Today, there are only an estimated 43,000 elephants left – a dramatic loss of 60% in only 5 years (TAWIRI official census results 2014).

We mourn the loss of these thousands of elephants, each of whom had family and friends, and who in their lifetimes formed long-lasting memories, celebrated the births of new calves, and grieved deaths of companions.

We mourn, too, the losses that these thousands of carcasses represent to our country and to our people. Elephants form an integral part of Tanzania’s natural and cultural heritage. They feature in our stories and our art, reflecting that people and elephants have co-existed for thousands of years. The ecosystems of East Africa have co-evolved with elephants – they shaped the savannahs and the woodlands, and many of their paths became our roads. To lose our elephants would be to lose a cherished facet of our national and historical identity.

The elephant poaching crisis also threatens one of our country’s biggest money-makers: the tourism industry. Over 1 million people visit Tanzania’s protected areas every year, contributing to an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people and constitutes 14% of our nation’s economy (WTTC 2015). One does not have to love elephants to recognize that the poaching crisis is a grave threat to the economic potential of our country.

We recognize the progress that has been made to address the elephant poaching crisis. The formulation of a national anti-poaching strategy, the work of the Task Force of the National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU), and increasing the resources for our wildlife authorities are important steps. Yet this poaching crisis will continue if we fail to address the ultimate driver of the poaching crisis: the trade in ivory.

Despite the scale of the poaching crisis, the problem has clear solutions which only the Tanzanian government can implement. We call on the government of Tanzania:

1.    To arrest and prosecute the major ivory traders operating in the country, regardless of their nationality, status or position.

By prosecuting the major ivory traders, we remove locally the incentives and means to poach elephants. The prosecution of traders will break down poaching networks, and deter others from becoming involved in poaching and the illegal ivory trade.

2.    To use Tanzania’s long-standing friendship with China to close the Chinese ivory markets.

Up to 90% of Tanzania’s ivory goes to China, where a legal domestic trade in ivory acts as a cover for the illegal ivory trade that is the ultimate driver of the elephant poaching crisis. We must urge the government to convince China to follow up on its promise to close all its ivory markets now, and thereby win long-term security for our country’s elephants. As the leading consumer of ivory, a ban in China would lead to the rapid collapse of the ivory trade in the rest of the world.

3.  To publicly destroy Tanzania’s ivory stockpile – the largest in the world.

Bound by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Tanzania cannot currently sell its ivory stockpile. In 2014, Tanzania signed up to the Elephant Protection Initiative, placing a moratorium on selling ivory for 10 years. However while the stockpile exists, it provides encouragement to illegal ivory traders that trade will resume. The sale of ivory stockpiles is incompatible with a global ivory trade ban, and past sales of ivory stockpiles have driven the illegal ivory trade. Destroying the stockpile sends a strong message to elephant poachers, ivory traders, and consumers that ivory has no monetary value, and that the poaching of elephants is an unacceptable crime.

Tanzania’s stockpile is expensive to maintain and secure – to store this ivory indefinitely is a drain on the national budget. Many African countries have shown their commitment by destroying stockpiles. They were widely applauded for doing so, and destruction of the stockpiles catalyzed donor support for conservation and anti-poaching.

Many more conservation dollars can be won through wildlife tourism – a revenue source that is growing, sustainable, and beneficial to many Tanzanian citizens in the long-term – than through the one-off sale of the nation’s ivory stockpile, which would only fuel more poaching and accelerate the extinction of elephants in Tanzania.

Our country has been a leader in elephant conservation before. In 1989, Tanzania led the effort to ban the global ivory trade – when we took action to end the killing of elephants, the rest of the world followed. We must renew our commitment to this promise made on the global stage over twenty years ago by bringing all ivory trade to an end.

Tanzania’s record on elephant conservation not only matters to our international reputation, it also matters to the citizens of Tanzania. Over 50,000 people support the “OKOA Tembo wa Tanzania” campaign on Facebook, and it is on behalf of the citizens of Tanzania that we reach out to you, Your Excellency, and ask that you save our elephants.

To bring peace to Tanzania’s elephants and her protected areas, and to secure a thriving wildlife tourism industry that benefits all Tanzanians – this can be your legacy.


  1. Benson Kibonde                     Manager, Selous Game Reserve
  2. Prof. J.R. Kideghesho             Department of Wildlife Conservation, Sokoine University of Agriculture
  3. Prof. B.M. Mutayoba               Faculy of Veterinary Medicine, Sokoine University of Agriculture
  4. Prof. C. Nahonyo                    Department of Zoology and Wildlife Conservation, University of Dar es Salaam
  5. Vanessa Mdee                        WildAid Ambassador
  6. Millard Ayo                              Journalist, Clouds Media Group
  7. Dr. Dennis K. Ikanda               Director TAWIRI–KPR Centre
  8. Ponjoli Joram                          Natural Resources Project Officer, Delegation of the European Union
  9. Charles Hillary                        Journalist, Azam Media
  10. Noah Mpunga                         Director, WCS Southern Highlands Conservation Program
  11. Vedasto Msungu                    Environmental Journalist, ITV and Radio ONE
  12. Wallace Maugo                       Editor, The Guardian
  13. Florence Majani                      Assistant Editor, Mwananchi Communications
  14. Imani Kajula                            CEO, EAG Group
  15. Wasiwasi Mwabulambo         Program Manager, Azam Media
  16. David Kabambo                      Director, Peace in Nature
  17. Lasway Romane                     Lecturer, Chuo cha Taifa cha Utalii
  18. Josiah Mshuda                       Director, DONET
  19. Monica Lumambo                  Chairperson, KINET
  20. Damien Kosei                         Secretary, BAENET
  21. Dativa Kimolo                         Chairperson, DACENET
  22. Said Mjui                                 Tutor, Mtamako
  23. Beda Kihindo                          Education Officer, TALGWU
  24. Pierre Nyakwaka                    Planning Officer, Jiendeleze Trust
  25. George Mtemahani                CEO, Sun Sweet Solar
  26. Arafat Mtui                              Project Manager, Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center
  27. Pima Nyenga                          Director, Association Mazingira
  28. Lameck Mkuburo                   Elephant Researcher, Southern Tanzania Elephant Program
  29. Jenipha Mboya                      Researcher, Southern Tanzania Elephant Program
  30. Shubert Mwarabu                  Activist, Me Against Poaching

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