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Reading Around the World

About Tanzania

tanzaniaBeautiful and filled with high potential, Tanzania has an emerging economy and has experienced impressive growth over the last decade.  In spite of this, per capita income remains low, making Tanzania one of the poorest countries in the world.   Most people living in rural areas live in conditions of extreme poverty.  According to recent studies, 68% of the population still lives on less than $1.25 per day, down from 84% in the year 2000.

The diverse population of about 52 million people in many different ethnic and religious groups gets along peacefully.  Unlike some of its neighbors, Tanzania – more properly the United Republic of Tanzania – is a relatively stable country without the political struggles in some African nations.

Located on the east coast of Africa, Tanzania shares borders with 8 other African nations:  Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Brundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west; Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the South.  Tanzania is home to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.

Tanzania is a land of great opportunity.  With nearly a million square kilometers of arable farmland, Tanzania has the potential to supply food for all of Africa and to end hunger for the entire continent.  But less than 1% of the farms have irrigation systems.   Transportation also remains a challenge for Tanzanians, who are nevertheless determined and find creative ways to get their goods to the marketplace.


Transportation of goods is a challenge

Education is another challenge.  Although children are highly motivated and some children will walk barefoot for 2 miles to get toschool for the chance to get an education, attendance rates drop dramatically from primary school to secondary school and less than 1 percent of Tanzanian students ever make it to college.

Less than one percent of students graduate from college

The government has made plans to address the challenges in education and done a remarkable job getting 95% of children to attend primary school.  But only 35% of students continue their education into secondary school.  Historically, there were 2 driving factors behind this:  First, until 2015, there was no government support for secondary schools and many families living in conditions of poverty were unable to pay the school fees.  Second, until 2015, although primary schools were taught in Swahili, the native language spoken in most homes, everything changed in secondary school and instruction was ENTIRELY in english.  Most students were not able to learn English quickly enough to pass the entrance exams for secondary school.

Clean water is a daily struggle

Tanzania has 2 national languages:  Kiswahili and English.  RAWLI is working to support English language literacy among Tanzanians by building libraries and a digital age learning environment to schools

Population:    52 million
Motto:  “Uhuru na Umoja” (Swahili) – Freedom and Unity

Literacy rates on completion of primary school:  30% in English; 63% Swahili

School attendance rates:  95% primary school;  35% secondary school; 1% college

Book per student ratio:  2008 – 6:1;   2015 – 2:1