Friday, January 25, 2008


by Anja Moilanen

There are about 35 Million people and more than 120 ethnic groups in Tanzania. The national language is Kiswahili. For historical reasons English is the second official language.

Tanzania is one of the least developed countries in Africa. Luckily, the Tanzanian government understands the value of education when improving the quality of life. According to the Tanzanian education policy the language of teaching is Kiswahili in pre-primary and primary education in which English is a compulsory subject. In secondary education the language of teaching is English and Kiswahili is a compulsory subject.

Nevertheless, the poor command of English of both teachers and students is a major reason for academic under-achievement in secondary schools. Students start studying in English without proper preparation and are taught by teachers who in many cases have a low level of proficiency in English. Some teachers do their best and attend evening classes to acquire better language skills. However, it is expensive and time-consuming, and not even available everywhere.

The number of private schools is growing and affluent families send their offspring into these schools that use English as the medium of instruction already in primary schools. Unfortunately these schools are hardly better – their teachers are often not able to use English properly or lack teacher training altogether.

Tanzania has tried to find solutions to these problems. The country uses the help of its own experts, the British Council and also numerous experts from Finland to improve their teacher trainees´ language and pedagogical skills. Hopefully the project is a success and Tanzanian students will face easier times at school.

Source: Yours Truly 2008 (the annual bulletin for the members of The Association of Teachers of English in Finland), original article written by Modester M Mwinula, URT National Commission for UNESCO, Tanzania

Thursday, January 17, 2008

School bags to Tanzania are being packed

The student council of Haukipudas Upper Secondary School started packing school bags, papers, pens and mobile phones in January 2008. More phones are yet to come! The boxes will be sent to a Unesco school in Dar es Salaam in a matter of weeks. This is just a beginning.
-by Anja Moilanen