Responding to a Severe Shortage of Qualified Teachers in Rural Tanzania

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Responding to a Severe Shortage of Qualified Teachers in Rural Tanzania

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Mussa Stephano Mgasa, one of Tulawaka’s teacher sponsorship graduates, teaches a class in Biharamulo district, Tanzania.

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 2:15pm

African Barrick Gold (ABG) recently contributed $670,000 for the construction of 16 new teacher houses in communities near its operations. The donation is aimed at attracting and retaining qualified teachers to rural northwest Tanzania and comes at a time of crisis in the country’s education system.

The national pass rate for the ordinary-level exams, known as O-Levels, plunged to 34.5 percent in 2012, down from 90 percent just five years ago. Students who fail their O-Levels cannot proceed to advanced secondary-level education, which is needed to qualify for university.

In March, Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda inaugurated a special committee to investigate the causes of the mass student failures. While the commission has yet to complete its work, a severe teacher shortage in rural areas of the country is almost certainly one of the contributing factors. At the Mavota Primary School near ABG’s Tulawaka mine, for instance, there are just eight teachers for the school’s 1,025 students — a 1:128 teacher-student ratio. At the nearby Mkunkwa Primary School, there are three teachers for 430 students, a 1:143 teacher-student ratio.

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