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Primary Education



Primary education should be compulsory, free, and of good quality since it is a level which is accessible to the majority of children. Education at this level is guided by a holistic concept based on the total development of the child with increasing attention to the specific individual learning needs of the child. It is the level at which basic skills of numeracy, literacy, proficiency, and competency are developed and learners are introduced to logical thinking and reasoning. It is at this level that skills for further learning are developed.

Current Situation

Primary school is part of universal free basic education offered to children within the age group of 7-13 years. This level covers the first 7 years of basic education. Currently, about 199,938 pupils equivalent to the GER of 100.3% are enrolled. Rapid increases in enrolment have been possible through community initiatives in the construction of classrooms. Although primary school is free and compulsory, yet the net enrolment rate is low. For example the NER in 2002, was 77.3% for boys and 78.7% for girls. This implies that there are a large number of children of school going age who are either not in school or are over-aged.


  • Zanzibar gives primary education a high priority and by law school attendance is compulsory for all children.
  • The NER is improving.
  • Parents and community at large are aware of and committed to registering and enrolling their children.
  • Community participation in classroom construction has reduced the burden on the government.
  • There are at least five centres for children with special needs.


  • Primary education continues to be characterized by an acute shortage of classrooms and serious overcrowding in some areas.
  • Children are not enrolled at the right age because of the shortage of space.
  • Poor planning of school location creates disparities between and within districts.
  • About 22.3% of school going age children are out of school.
  • No exposure to ICT.
  • Many schools cannot be expanded due to encroachment by settlements.

Policy Statements

  • The government shall ensure that all primary school age children are enrolled at the right age, remain in school in full attendance, perform well and successfully complete primary education.
  • School mapping shall be enforced as a strategy to address the problem of disparities between and within districts and provide a supportive learning environment to ensure learning takes place.
  • Primary school curriculum shall include ICT.


  • Instituting school mapping as a strategy to expand access to underserved and un-served areas.
  • Expanding access to primary schools through diversified delivery systems, e.g. through multi grade teaching, distance teaching, radio and television.
  • Ensuring that repair work is promptly undertaken.
  • Establishing benchmarks for what the ideal/optimum learning environment for a primary classroom should be.
  • Providing exposure to ICT.
  • Establishing coordination mechanisms for pre-schools, primary schools, secondary schools, communities and the private sector.