Shortage of teachers threatening Tanzania’s secondary education

17Feb 2023
Francis Kajubi
The Guardian
Shortage of teachers threatening Tanzania’s secondary education

IT’s 7.05am on Monday February 13, 2023 and Munira Saidi (14) is at Mbezi bus stop struggling to board a commuter bus to Goba Mpakani secondary school in Ubungo district, Dar es Salaam city.

Prof Adolph Mkenda, minister for Education, Science and Technology.

It takes one a maximum of 20minutes by a commuter bus from Mbezi bus stop to Goba Mpakani secondary, the government school.

Munira normally wakes up around 6am so that she arrives at school before 7.30am as lessons start at 8am sharp. She needs good preparations for national exams ahead of her later this year.

For Munira, several subjects are a priority in her preparations towards the Form Two National Assessment exams to be held in October this year. She says that in her learning timetable at home, Civics, History, English and Kiswahili are priority subjects.

At these early days to the assessment exams, Munira is not confident of performing well in science subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Basic Mathematics.

She has no choice but dedicating her learning efforts on arts subjects. Munira blames the shortage of teachers at her school on top of science subjects being difficult for her to quickly understand.

Even though Mpakani secondary school is facing a shortage of professional teachers for some arts subjects, Munira puts all her efforts through students’ learning groups just to pass the exams.

As she strives for success in her schooling journey as challenges such as insufficient public transport to and back from the school arise. Finding a bus to school on time in the morning is becoming something fortunate.  

‘I’m worried that I might be late for lessons. Besides, today’s timetable shows that Civics is the first lesson I must attend but I’m still here struggling for a bus,” she says.

It’s obvious that in Dar es Salaam residents strive to board commuter buses especially in the morning and evening.

Not only in Dar es Salaam but all government primary and secondary schools across the country don’t have buses for students and teachers.

“If I don’t get a bus until 7.30am then I’m on the brink of missing today’s Civics lecture,” she says adding;

“I must be there on time because at 8.40am the Civics lesson is over. However, there are not enough Civics teachers thus no one will have time to teach me alone. It will be a bad day for me because I love Civics and my dream is to become a great politician someday.”

Munira condemns shortage of Civics teachers at her school as official data shows that Tanzania mainland has only 66 Form two professional Civics teachers in government secondary schools.

Professional Civics teachers are the ones holding a Diploma in Education and specialized in Political Science as a core subject and those with a BA in Education also specialized in the subject of Political science.

According to the Form Two National Assessment (FTNA) 2022 by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the requirement of form two professional Civics teachers stands at 15,816. The shortage is 15,750 which is equivalent to 99.99 percent.

The FTNA report dubbed ‘Teachers availability in Secondary Schools by Subjects and the Corresponding Performance 2022’ states that the shortage of professional Civics teachers contributed to 69 percent of the Form two examinees who sat for the national assessment examinations in October 2022 to fail the subject.

The shortage of Civics teachers is high compared to the other nine mandatory subjects taught in government secondary schools. 

However, the shortage does not stop to Civics’ teachers alone but also to English and Science subjects’ teachers.

For instance, FTNA 2022 report shows that the whole country requires 21,435 form two English language teachers but as of December 2022 just 11,337 teachers were available.

The shortage is equivalent to 47 percent which led to 40 percent of the total students who sat for the assessment examination to fail the subject countrywide.

There are only 30 form two Literature in English teachers while the requirement stands at 2,964 teachers. No number of failures in this subject because students sit for it once, only for the Form Four national examination.



According to the National Bureau of Statistics’ (NBS) Population and Housing Census Preliminary Results released September 2022, Tanzania mainland has a total of 5,592 secondary schools.

Dar es Salaam leads the list of top three regions with the highest number of secondary schools. Dar es Salaam has 350 secondary schools followed by Kilimanjaro 349, and Mwanza 330 schools.

Regions with the fewest secondary schools are Katavi (62), Rukwa (97) and Songwe (130).

The Census results do not differentiate the number of state-owned and private owned schools. However, there isn’t a distinction in numbers of which are ordinary level schools or high schools.

But the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology points out in its 2022/23 budget speech that during the previous financial year 151 new government-owned ordinary level secondary schools were registered.

On the other hand, 45 new private owned secondary schools were registered too.

Taking the 151 new schools as a sample for the availability of Civics teachers in ordinary level secondary schools, as per FTNA Results 2022, only 66 of the 151 schools are deployed with one Civics teacher leaving the rest 85 schools without one.

Lawmakers such as Tunza Malapo Special Seats Legislator-Mtwara region in the National Assembly, challenge the government to allocate a special budget in every financial year for recruiting new teachers.

“There is no hope for the country’s socioeconomic development's bright future unless the government prioritizes recruitment of the required teachers,” she says.


Joseph Kiriri, Goba Mpakani secondary school headmaster, told The Guardian that the school has four Civics teachers but only one is specialized for the subject.

“The other three teachers are unspecialized Civics teachers. One is specialized in Literature in English and two are specialized in History and Kiswahili. This is one of the reasons for many students failing Civics,” said Kiriri.

According to him, last year’s form two Civics assessment exams were prepared to test student’s competence rather than ordinary questions that call for memorizing what one have been taught in class.

“NECTA changed the approach from memorizing based questions to competency based questions in May 2022. We were notified but it was too late,” said Kiriri adding;

“The FTNA 2022 Civics exams contained questions that required the students to answer in detail and explanation contrary to previous years where questions were prepared in the form of multiple choices, true and false arrangements.”

He said the other factor is the majority of Civics teachers not being promoted for many years, forcing them to opt for other activities such as joining active politics and abandoning teaching.

“There are new topics for Civics that need a specialized teacher. The topics include road safety, globalization, good governance, proper and improper behavior, democracy and parliament issues,” said the headmaster.

Joyce Mbise, Form Two Civics teacher at Goba Mpakani secondary school said that she joined the school in 2013 after graduating with a Diploma in Education from the Songea Teachers College.

Mbise is specialized in teaching History and Kiswahili for ordinary level secondary schools.

“I’m trying the best I can to teach Civics. It took me almost a year to cope with the situation. I teach five streams (Science, Art 1 to Art 4). Students in each stream range between 55 and 65. The education policy requires one teacher for 45 students,” said Mbise.

Grace Mwaisabila is the only Civics specialized teacher at Goba Mpakani secondary school. She graduated with a BA in Education in 2009 at Mkwawa University College of Education specializing in political science.

 “After I had graduated I proceeded to Kilakala secondary school in Morogoro region to teach Civics for Form One, Two, Three and Four. I was the only teacher at the school who specialized in political science. The other two Civics teachers were specialized in History and Geography,” she said.

According to her, at Mkwawa she graduated with almost 300 students who specialized in the political science subject.

Most of whom proceeded with post-graduate in leadership studies and others opted for Masters’ degree in political science and are no longer in schools.

“I later proceeded to Morogoro secondary school where I was the only Civics teacher,” said Mwaisabila.


The National Examination Council of Tanzania’s (NECTA) website shows that 325 Form two students at Goba Mpakani secondary school were registered to sit for the Civics FTNA 2022 examination of which 304 students managed to sit for the exam.

Of the 304 students who sat for the exam, only one student scored grade ‘C’ in Civics. There were 41 students who scored grade ‘D’ and the rest 262 students got ‘F’. There wasn’t a student who scored grade ‘A’ or grade ‘B’.

Overall results show that at the school, two students got division one, 12 students got division two, 36 students got division three, 237 students got division four and 18 students got division zero. 

In this case, 287 students passed the exam and proceeded in Form three this year.

The FTNA Results further shows that a total of 690,341 students were registered countrywide to sit for the form two assessment examinations held in October 2022. Girls were 367,013, an equivalent of 53.16 percent. Boys were 323,328 which is equivalent to 46.84 percent.

Of the registered students, 635,130 which is equivalent to 92 percent did the assessment exams of which 342,210 were girls which are equivalent to 93.24 percent of the registered and boys were 292,920 which is 90.60 percent of the registered.

A total of 55,211 students which is eight percent of the registered students didn't sit for the assessment exams of which 24,803 were girls while boys were 30,408.

A total of 539,645 students of the 633,537 students got clean results as per NECTA’s terms and conditions. It means that an equivalent of 85.18 percent of students passed the assessment exams with grades A, B, C and D.

Of these students, 283,541 were girls, an equivalent of 83.05 percent while boys were 256,104 an equivalent of 87.67 percent. In 2021, 555,857 students passed the assessment exams.


On performance by subject, NECTA results shows that on Civics subject 3,160 form two students (0.5 percent) scored grade ‘A’, 8,058 students (1.27 percent) scored grade ‘B’, 59,995 students (9.48 percent) scored grade ‘C’, 125,788 (19.87 percent) scored grade ‘D’ and 436,094 (68.88 percent) got ‘F’.

On Physics, 2,519 students (0.4 percent) scored grade ‘A’, 4,874 students (0.77 percent) scored grade ‘B’, 29,852 students (4.73 percent) scored grade ‘C’, 77,586 students (12.30 percent) scored grade ‘D’ and 515,734 (81.79 percent) got ‘F’.

On Chemistry subject, 11,351 students (1.79 percent) scored grade ‘A’, 13,582 students (2.15 percent) scored grade ‘B’, 61,813 students (9.99 percent) scored grade ‘C’, 124,953 students (19.74 percent) scored grade ‘D’ and 421,138 students (66.55 percent) got ‘F’.

On Biology, 21,630 students (3.42 percent) scored grade ‘A’, 23,475 students (3.71 percent) scored grade ‘B’, 88,917 students (14.04 percent) scored grade ‘C’, 163,322 students (25.79 percent) scored grade ‘D’ and 335,847 students (53.04 percent) got ‘F’.

On Basic Mathematics, 12,389 students (1.96 percent) scored grade ‘A’, 8,532 students (1.35 percent) scored grade ‘B’, 30,674 students (4.84 percent) scored grade ‘C’, 53,246 students (8.41 percent) scored grade ‘D’ and 528,344 students (83.44 percent) got ‘F’.

On Kiswahili, 78,986 students (12.47 percent) scored grade ‘A’ , 107,914 students (17.04 percent) scored grade ‘B’ while 289,808 students (45.74 percent)scored grace ‘C’ and 129,059 students (20.38 percent) scored grade ‘D’. A total of 27,486 students (4.34 percent) got ‘F’.

On English language, 18,920 students (2.99 percent) scored grade ‘A’, 20,367 students (3.22 percent) scored grade ‘B’,100,771 students (15.91 percent) scored grade ‘C’, 241,856 (38.20 percent) scored grade ‘D’ and 251,288 students (39.69 percent) got ‘F’.

On History, 22,210 students (3.51 percent) scored grade ‘A’, 22,440 students (3.54 percent) scored grade ‘B’, 88,245 students (13.94 percent) scored grade ‘C’, 207,717 students (32.81 percent) scored grade ‘D’ and 292,497 students (46.20 percent) got ‘F’.

On Geography, 25,319 students (four percent) scored grade ‘A’, 32,288 students (5.10 percent) scored grade ‘B’, 118,435 students (18.71 percent) scored grade ‘C’, 172,215 students (27.20 percent) scored grade 'D’ and 284,834 students (45 percent) got ‘F’.


The results report states that some students’ results were withheld due to different reasons. 

For instance, NECTA didn’t include results for 258 students who inflicted health issues during the sitting of assessment exams. The students will retake the exams in October 2023.

Results for 52 students were nullified for cheating in the examination rooms. However, results for 14 students were nullified for examinees writing abusive words in the answer booklets. 

Students who sat for the examination were from both public and private secondary schools.

The Council did not distinguish the number of students from public schools and those from private schools. However, NECTA didn’t announce the best performing students and schools. 

The total number of students who sit for the assessment exams is derived from the total number of students who sit for the exam on the first day.

Minister for Education, Science and Technology Prof Adolf Mkenda defended that results ranking based on the ownership and individual students’ performance is not an indicator for the quality of education offered in the country.

Husna Juma Sekiboko Special Seats Legislator-Tanga region says that in recruitment of new teachers the government should start with science teachers as the country needs enough scientists such as engineers and medical doctors which according to her there is a huge shortage of such professionals.

Athumani Amasi, NECTA’s acting executive secretary.


FTNA Results 2022 shows that the country needs 19,216 form two Basic Mathematics teachers but so far just 5,537 teachers are on the job, implying a shortage of 71 percent.

This resulted in 83 percent of examinees in the form of two assessment examinations in 2022 failing the subject. The country requires 16,334 Physics Form two teachers but only 3,758 are posted, a shortage of 77 percent.

This way, 82 percent Form two students who sat for last October’s assessment exams fail the subject.

The demand for form two Chemistry teachers is pegged at 16,664 but just 6,074 are employed, a deficit of 64 percent. Thus 67 percent of students failed the subject.

Similarly, the demand for form two Biology teachers is17,813 but only 5,795 are available, a 67 percent shortage resulting in 53 percent of students failing the assessment exams.

Geography alternatively has 13,755 form two teachers while the requirement is 18,181. The 4,426 teachers’ shortage led to 45 percent of Form two students who sat for the assessment exam to fail the subject.

There are two subjects that the government has deployed almost the required number of teachers, Kiswahili and History.

The government has so far recruited 15,828 form two Kiswahili language teachers while the requirement is 16,792 teachers, implying a deficit of 964 teachers which is equivalent to six percent.

History has 15,960 form two teachers while the requirement is 17,318 teachers. The deficit is 1,358 teachers which is equivalent to eight percent.

Subjects such as Book Keeping and Commerce are not mandatory in Tanzania’s secondary education curriculum 2010 that’s why its results are not included in the FTNA Results.

The subjects are being taught in few government schools that enroll students with higher grades from primary schools.


The Basic Education Statistics in Tanzania (BEST) 2018/19 by the Ministry of State, President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government Authorities states that there is a huge shortage of scientific laboratories in public-owned secondary schools.

The statistics show that the government had during the financial year 2018/19 constructed 165 new scientific laboratories in 165 secondary schools across the country.

BEST shows that in 2017/18 there were 8,258 laboratories in secondary schools while the requirement was 14,420. This was equivalent to a deficit of 42.7 percent.

BEST showed that 18 districts of the 184 total country’s district councils had a shortage of 50 percent of laboratories needed in secondary schools.

In Lushoto district Tanga region for instance there were 15 laboratories while the demand was 62, a deficit of 47 laboratories.

The statistics shows that some regions such as Mwanza in the Lake zone were lucky with an excess of laboratories in secondary schools. The region had a requirement of 51 but there were 54 laboratories.


The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology points out in its 2022/23 budget speech that during the 2021/22 financial year it facilitated the printing of 6,074,000 textbooks for form one, two, three and four. The textbooks are both for science and arts subjects.

The ministry developed an Online Learning Management System for secondary school students to access and read soft copies of textbooks.

David Silinde, Deputy Minister of State, President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government Authorities (Education), says that in 2020/21 the government employed 14,949 teachers of different subjects and in 2021/22 it employed 9,800 teachers.

“I must admit that there is a huge shortage of teachers in secondary schools not only for form two;

The government is also aware that there is a shortage of laboratories and apparatus for practical teaching and has been working on it depending on budget allocations.” says Silinde.

He asserts that the new plan by the ministry is to start convincing graduates from the Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE) to volunteer in secondary schools with shortage of teachers.

David Silinde.


The Education and Training Policy 2014 by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has pointed out Civics, Basic Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, English Language and Kiswahili Language as mandatory subjects for Form one and Form Two students in ordinary level secondary schools.

The Policy states that a student shall opt to drop Physics and Chemistry in Form three and four but must study the rest of the subjects.

It further states that of 100 students joining Form three every year, the maximum of 35 students opt to study Physics and Chemistry. The policy set a standard ratio of one teacher per 45 students.

“The government shall ensure that scientific apparatus and all necessary items for teaching and learning by theory and practical are sufficiently supplied in public schools to meet the required demand and for the development of science and technology at all levels of learning,” reads the Policy in part.


Stanislaus Nyongo, Parliamentary Permanent Committee for Community Development and Social Services Chairman says: “The Committee has recommended to the Ministry of State, President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government Authorities to take urgent measures for recruiting the required number of teachers.”

According to him, the Committee will make a follow-up to see if its recommendation has been dealt with in the 2023/24 budget estimates to be tabled in the National Assembly in April this year.


Prof Issa Shivji, an author, academician and senior law lecturer says: “If you really want to build a better nation then create better learning systems. If you really need people to have better education you must invest in teachers’ wellbeing;

If you really want to build a nation with people who value each other, work on setting up the best teaching system.”

Dr George Kahangwa from the School of Education at the University of Dar es Salaam says “The core role of the government is to provide for its people beyond their expectations through various public services,” adding;

“Teachers provide the most important service that’s education. The government shouldn’t be giving a series of excuses on serious issues like the shortage of teachers in secondary school.”