Corruption in the education sector in Tanzania – What can be done?

During my internship with the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) in September-December 2015, interning in the Programs & Activities department I learned a lot about corruption and anti-corruption efforts globally. During the first week I was invited to attend some of the tailor-made trainings on anti-corruption at the academy, and after following the research of international institutions such as the World Bank and U4 and getting the opportunity to support the work of the P&A department, I learned that corruption is a very complicated issue and that knowledge support is important in raising awareness about the problem, especially in African countries.

Corruption is also one of the major hindrances in the realization of the right to education in Tanzania. A number of reports from the DFID, Transparency International, World Bank and the U4 show how an education fund is being embezzled in the country. Systematic corruption leads to a shortage of learning resources in the education sector, hence denying the right to education for millions of children. In this essay I will focus on the prongs to reduce the plight of corruption in the education sector.
Through the Primary Education Development Program (PEDP 2001), the government aimed at improving the learning environment of primary schools by providing capitation grants of $10 per pupil per annum. The government introduced the capitation grant to fill in the gap of the abolition of tuition fees in primary schools, in order to increase school enrollment especially among children from poor backgrounds. Therefore the capitation grant was intended to buy books, among other facilities needed by schools and pupils to improve education. However, it was shocking in 2013 when over 60% of students failed their form four national exam. (Sauti za Wanachi, Mobile Phone Survey-Round 2, April 2013)
During the first quarter of 2013, about 34% of primary schools in Tanzania had not received the capitation grant. For the schools that had received it, it was as little as 2,094 TZS when it was supposed to be 16,000 TZS. This has been the case between 2010 and 2012 when most schools had only received an average of 2,202 TZS per pupil per annum. (Sauti za Wanachi, Mobile Phone Survey-Round 2, April 2013). In addition, some primary head teachers, about 37%, are not informed about how much of the capitation grant their schools are supposed to receive (Sauti za Wanachi, Mobile Phone Survey-Round 2, April 2013). This means 37% of primary schools in Tanzania had not received a capitation grant in 2013. While 54% of the teachers knew about a capitation grant, but received an amount as low as 2,000 TZS contrary to the amount set by the central government. Yet, they did not report the matter or complain to any authority responsible to distribute the capitation grant. (Sauti za Wanachi, Mobile Phone Survey-Round 2, April 2013).

93% of primary head teachers agreed to have a shortage of textbooks in their schools. An education system without access to textbooks, does this justify the 60% of students who failed in the national exam in 2013? Surprisingly, most of the parents continue to pay contributions to schools to cover the cost of learning resources when the capitation grant was intended for such purposes. One would ask: what’s the point of having a capitation grant when it is not reaching the schools?

One of the findings for 2012 in Uwezo’s annual report is that pupils from private schools perform better than pupils from the public (government) schools. It seems the education system is creating classes solely for the poor distribution of capitation grants, which would help to close the gap should the people be educated equally regardless of their socioeconomic status.

On the 4th of March 2012 I travelled with an organization, Twaweza, to Njombe, Tanzania for an immersion program. Along with my colleagues at Twaweza, I immersed myself in the life of a rural resident to learn the reality of life faced by villagers on a daily basis. Our host family sets a clear example of citizen agency by contributing to their schools, since the government capitation grants provided as little as 500 TZS per pupil in 2009 (when it was meant to be 16,000 TZS per pupil, per year).
It was declared by the fourth Tanzanian president in 2001, primary education is free. Unfortunately, often parents need to pay for their children’s education. Some schools just switch the name from the tuition fees to ‘contributions’. Parents have to pay for a security guard’s salary, examination papers, school maintenance and remedial classes. After incurring all the cost of the above, how can a primary education remain free or really be a public service?
The ruling party (CCM government) tries to convince Tanzanians and donors that (PEDP 2001) is about education first and foremost, when in fact it is about politics. What is distressing is that the government thinks Tanzanians and donors can’t see through the PEDP ‘vision’ to what lies underneath, namely a gigantic exercise in corruption and patronage. Perhaps, on reflection, the donors might be fooled, especially those who have put serious money in the Universal Primary Education (UPE 1970s) and now are promising more for the Primary Education Development Plan 2001.
It’s high time for parents, teachers, and relevant stakeholders to evaluate the value for money in the education sector. If a big budget is provided every year to the education sector, yet no improvement in learning or bridging the gaps between the poor and the rich, then that education system is not functioning.
A good system of education will drive change in Tanzania. The progress will also be achieved with a trustworthy government that believes in and supports people’s capacity to do good things. The education fund is there; the structure exists as well. It is for parents and teachers to ensure that the funds reach the schools and are used for their intended purposes.


Are Our Children Learning? Http:// Hivos Uwezo, n.d. Web.

3, Brief No., ed. “Capitation Grants in Primary Education: A Decade since Their Launch, Does Money Reach Schools?” Capitation Grants in Primary Education: (2013): 1-8. June 2013. Web. <>.

Integrity Vice Presidency. Integrity Vice Presidency. World Bank, n.d. Web. <>.

Kahama: Where They Celebrate Exam Failure. Http:// TheCitizen, n.d. Web.

Nunzio Scarano, Vatican Official, Arrested In Alleged Corruption Plot. Http:// CBSNews, 2 June 2013. Web.

Sanctions System at the World Bank. World Bank, n.d. Web. <>.

UNITED NATIONS (U.N.): CONVENTION AGAINST CORRUPTION. International Legal Materials 43.1 (2004): 37-73. Web.

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