Across Tanzania, huge progress has been made in basic education in the last decade. Enrolments are up in both primary and secondary education, and millions of children are able to go to school.
Tanzania is ahead of schedule in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to
education access and gender parity. Tens of thousands of classrooms have been built and tens of
thousands of teachers recruited. The budget for education has tripled over this period; the
Government now spends over a billion dollars annually or about 20% of its budget on education.
Parents too have scrambled to cover their share, for even free education is never quite free, with
costs of uniforms, books and pens, extra tuition, transport and whatnot.
These achievements are no easy feats; they have required significant political commitment. The key question is: what have these massive efforts and investments yielded? To what extent have these achievements translated into concrete improvements in children’s competencies? The point of schooling is to enable children to develop the knowledge and wherewithal to thrive in the world –starting with basic skills in literacy and numeracy that form the foundation of the ability to be curious, think, listen, ask questions, analyze, synthesize, and communicate with confidence. Are our schools succeeding in this responsibility? Are our children learning?
Uwezo seeks to answer this key question. The assessment is based on a proven methodology developed by the ASER Center in India, and it uses scientific methods to obtain a random sampling of households around the country. Trained Uwezo volunteers visit the households to assess the mathematics and reading (Kiswahili and English) skills of each child using a short, Standard 2 level assessment. The Standard 2 level is chosen because according to both Tanzanian and international Standards, by the end of the second year of primary education children should have acquired basic skills in literacy and numeracy. In 2014 Twaweza partnered with ADP Mbozi in conducting these assessments in Tunduma township, Momba district.