Why Tanzania

The Republic of Tanzania

Statistically, the UN Human Development Index ranks Tanzania 152 out of 198 countries, making it one of the poorer countries in the world. The economy is based primarily on agriculture, which directly and indirectly employs about 80% of the workforce. It accounts for almost half of the county’s GDP. Other important, albeit far less significant, industries include manufacturing, mining, and tourism. While it has seen solid growth in the past decade, including 7.3% growth in 2007, Tanzania is still a country largely in poverty. 67.9% of the population reside below the International Poverty Line, surviving on less than $1.25 US per day. 

The City of Arusha

The city of Arusha, where The Umoja Centre is located, lies near the Tanzanian-Kenyan border, at the base of Mount Meru (Africa’s 5th highest peak). The city, with a population of approximately 600,000, is the capital of the region, and also serves as the headquarters for the East African Community.  

Urbanisation is high in Arusha, with many having moved to the city in search of work in industries such as agriculture, mining, and tourism. These industries, however, are unable to support the fast growing population. Many young people in Tanzania have become disillusioned with the rural life and migrate to urban areas in search for a better life. This has led to high levels of unemployment, especially for those with little or no education.

Education in Tanzania

While school enrolment in Tanzania has increased steadily since 2007, in particular primary levels, the country’s education system is still in a dire state. Only primary education is publicly funded and so many young people do not go on to Secondary School. The completion rate at primary level is only 65%, and less than 20% of those students go on to secondary education. 

This is despite the Tanzanian Government’s acknowledgment of the consequences of providing inadequate education to its citizens. A report published by the United Republic of Tanzania Ministry of Education and Culture in April 2003 declared “sustainable development will only take place if there is increased and improved levels of education. Lack of basic education undermines all efforts to improve health and nutrition, and impedes efforts to address the cause of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other illnesses”. In short, the report stated that lack of education contributes to a general decrease in living standards and directly impedes the economic progress of the nation. 

The country’s poorest are most affected by the government’s lack of investment in the national education system. Not only do many of them find the cost of secondary education prohibitively high, but they are also the most likely to find themselves pressured by their families into joining the workforce so they can contribute as a wage earner. Without a proper education, however, it is difficult to find jobs that provide an adequate income, and in many cases people are unable to find employment at all. 

Education in Arusha

Evidence of this failure in the education system can be seen throughout Arusha and the surrounding area. Findings from a survey administered when researching the need for an institution like The Umoja Centre showed the majority of young people were not currently enrolled in any sort of formal education, despite not having successfully completed secondary education (and in some cases, not even primary education).

The survey also revealed findings consistent with those of the Tanzania Ministry of Education and Culture; namely, that lack of basic education undermines efforts to improve other aspects of their lives. Specifically, it revealed that many of these young adults, often the ones with the least education, lacked knowledge of how to access information about their rights, health and welfare. It also showed that they were unaware of the wide range of careers potentially available to them.

In April 2018, Umoja commissioned extesnive research to be conducted to further investigate the state of youth in Arusha. This information is being used to inform our future planning. The research was facilitated by UK volunteer, Lawrence Mottram. You can read the full report here:
'What are the issues facing youth and families in Arusha and what services would be beneficial?'

Youth in Tanzania

At the family level there is often severe dysfunction, due to problems as alcoholism, domestic abuse, Aids related deaths, single parent families and a lack of income. Children suffer as they are isolated, neglected and victims of violence. 

Young people suffer due to the poor academic options available. If families do in fact invest in their children’s education (and many do not or cannot) then the quality of education offered is poor, with great underinvestment in education and under budgeting with a minimal percentage of the capacitation grants actually reaching the schools. Teaching practices are generic and do not put the best interests of the child first and the curricula and language of tuition are challenging for children who are not academically strong. Secondary education services do not offer the pastoral, educational support to children who are outliers because of their economic, health or family situations.

Young people hope for opportunities in urban centres that do not exist in their home communities, resulting in Arusha carrying a disproportionate burden of young people and resultant costs from rapid urban migration. At a national level, youth as a political force, as a unique life-stage, and group with entitlements, has not been recognised until recently. There has been an absence of youth focussed public planning and budgeting and laws in place to protect children / youth are largely not enforced.

Youth in Tanzania face high levels of unemployment and struggle to find safe, fair and meaningful employment. Without education to be employed and lacking the resources to start businesses, young people become highly vulnerable. As Restless Development stated in their National Strategy (2011-2015) “Without stable livelihoods, young people suffer from extreme poverty and social exclusion, often resulting in negative behaviours formed at a young age, e.g. risky sex, drug abuse, and crime.” (Restless Development, 2015)

The nature of aspiration is changing as Tanzania modernizes, and Umoja aims to provide the opportunities to match these aspirations.

Umoja aims to break these cycles of dysfunction by providing structured and holistic support for these young people, enabling them to build themselves alternative futures.