Illiteracy affects people across the world in all aspects of life. For example, people with low literacy skills are more likely to have health problems because they cannot read prescription labels. Also, they may grow isolated in a world where technology is rapidly evolving. At 77.89%, Tanzania’s literacy rate is quite positive; however, it has declined by over 10% since the 1970s. At that time, Tanzania had one of the highest in the world. That is why the government has made improving Tanzania’s literacy rate a priority.
Illiteracy in Tanzania
Recent studies have shown that Tanzanian students are unable to write their own names, read a sentence or solve a basic mathematics problem. During the first two decades of its independence in 1961, adult literacy classes helped the country boost its literacy rate. Unfortunately, these classes are virtually non-existent today. Also, a reduced government budget and lower donations to fight illiteracy perpetuate the decline in literacy rates. In turn, this lower funding has led to teacher staffing shortages, overcrowded classrooms and subpar teacher training. Curricular and classroom material shortages are also results from budget cuts. Finally, these poor conditions have led to high dropout rates which accelerate illiteracy.
To reach the goal of 100% literacy by 2030, the Tanzanian government has launched the National Adult Literacy and Mass Education Rolling Strategy 2020/21 to 2024/25. The plan includes reviving more literacy courses across the country. Additionally, it creates a database to track and monitor educational progress. Third, the plan funds an increase in learning materials and teacher training. Fourth, it funds research on the best literacy methods. Other plan initiatives include the implementation of multimedia technologies in the classroom and educational outreach to young women. In addition, the plan includes supplying radios to rural areas and publishing local newspapers.
The plan to boost Tanzania’s literacy rate will account for 15% of its national budget, but it is an investment the country is willing to make. Not only is it an investment in educational opportunities for children and adults, but it will also pay dividends to its economy. While Tanzania reached an economic milestone by evolving from a low-income country to a lower-middle-income country in 2020, the country’s poverty rate during that year was still high at 27.2%. James Mdoe of Tanzania’s education ministry views the literacy plan as key to combating poverty. He suggests that being able to read and write allows citizens to acquire more responsibility and perform more complex tasks. He emphasizes, “a literate and informed society is the basis for sustainable development.”
Mdoe underlines the need for considerable coordination to make the plan work. Experts will need to organize teacher recruitment. They will also need to direct research on best practices in adult literacy education. Finally, Tanzania must push continuing education for its adult population.
The government’s plan to improve Tanzania’s literacy rate will provide greater educational opportunities for all adults and children. In turn, this will help the country continue to grow economically. With this ambitious plan, Tanzania has a good chance of reaching its goal of 100% literacy by 2030.
– Kyle Har