This report is based on the 2017 Uwezo assessment in Tanzania, which took place two years after the previous assessment. The general pattern of results is consistent with findings from previous rounds of evaluations. A sustained trend of improvement in literacy skills in Kiswahili was observed among children in Standard 3, reflecting the learning that occurred in Standards 1 and 2. In other respects, however, the results show no overall improvement over 2015 and highlight the country’s ongoing challenges in providing quality education to all children.

Literacy in Kiswahili has improved

The percentage of children in Standard 3 who can read a short story in Kiswahili more than doubled between 2011 and 2017. The improvement among children in Standard 7 is less pronounced. The 2017 data shows that 14% of children in the 7 children leaving elementary school are unable to read a standard 2 level.

English skills are low and decreasing

Few students were able to read a Standard 2 level story in English. The results of the last three Uwezo exams show that the pass rate in English has decreased for Standard 7 students, and the relative gap between literacy skills for Kiswahili and English has increased over the same period.

Computational skills have fluctuated over time and show little improvement

In this report, the highest proficiency level achieved in numeracy is benchmarked based on the current national curriculum for numeracy in Standard 2. Pass rates for the numeracy test among Grade 7 students have decreased from 88% in 2014 to 80% in 2017. A more encouraging result was recorded for children in Standard 3 with an increase in the pass rate.

Overall, children’s literacy and numeracy skills improved somewhat between 2011 and 2017

Children ages 9-13 (including out-of-school children) who have passed the three Uwezo tests in reading, writing, and math.

Large differences in learning outcomes were found between districts

Children ages 9-13 (including out-of-school children) who have passed the three Uwezo tests in reading, writing, and math.

Significantly more children aged 6 now attend preschool or elementary school

The number of school quality assurance inspections varies widely by district

More children drop out of school in early primary grades than in higher grades

Half of all parents visited their children’s teachers in 2017

Fewer than 1 in 4 schools in mainland Tanzania have meal programs for children

About Uwezo

Uwezo is one of Twaweza’s flagship programs( It conducts the largest citizen-based assessments of children’s learning outcomes in three countries in East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The goal of the Uwezo Learning Assessment is to monitor and establish the actual level of learning outcomes in literacy and mathematics among children ages 6-16 in East Africa. Tanzania is among the African countries committed to achieving quality education for all in line with the Education For All goals, with a focus on improving the quality of education and ensuring excellence in literacy, mathematics and basic skills (EFA 1990, UNESCO 2000, UNESCO 2009), which was also emphasized in the Sustainable Development Goal on Education (SDG4). The Uwezo Learning Assessment allows us all to know if the investments (funds, manpower) in providing quality educational services to children are producing the desired results. By generating robust evidence on reading and math rates among school-age children, Uwezo assessments provide invaluable data for public and policy discussions about education.

Citizen volunteers are at the heart of Uwezo learning assessments. Citizens are seen not only as consumers, but also as knowledge generators. Uwezo engages district partner organizations to coordinate assessment activities in selected districts in all regions of mainland Tanzania. In turn, partner organizations are recruiting 60 volunteers per district to collect data from 30 villages. In each village, 20 households are visited and, with the parents’ consent, all children aged 6 to 16 in these households are assessed. Data on school metrics are also collected from an elementary school that most children attend in each area. In this way, Uwezo generates locally relevant data through individuals and organizations in the community, leading to local ownership and engagement with the results.

In 2017, Uwezo Tanzania conducted the sixth learning assessment in 56 districts in mainland Tanzania. The assessment was conducted in 1,677 enumeration areas selected by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and reached 25,532 households. Approximately 48,530 children ages 6 to 16 were assessed in literacy and math skills.

The core goal of the Uwezo assessment remains the collection of independent data on actual proficiency levels in literacy and math skills among school-age children. Given the rapid pace of policy reform, the need for rigorous data to monitor the impact of education programs, policies, and budgets on learning outcomes, especially in light of the renewed global and national focus on education quality, is evident. The assessment also captures a range of indicators of learning environments and factors that may be associated with learning outcomes, such as household socioeconomic status, parental educational attainment, parental involvement in their children’s education, and the rate of school inspections for quality assurance.

This year’s results must be interpreted in the context of the changes that have resulted from the implementation of Tanzania’s new Education and Training Policy of 2014. Under the policy, children enrolled in the first year of elementary school as of 2016 will receive ten years of free, compulsory basic education: six years of primary education and four years of secondary education. The policy also includes the gradual rollout of one year of compulsory preschool, lowering the age of entry into primary education from seven to six, shifting the teaching of English from Grade 1 to Grade 3, and moving to a more intensive focus on Kiswahili in Grades 1 and 2 through the teaching of the 3Rs (literacy and numeracy). (Human Rights Watch Report 2017)

Download the entire study:
Uwezo Tanzania Learning Assessment Report-2019