Source: Annual Report 2014

The Bernard van Leer Foundation’s strategy in Tanzania addresses the rural poor, among whom there is a population of 7.6 million children from 0 to 8 years of age. While the strategy is national in scope, with national-level investments focusing on various forms of advocacy and public education, it involves more intensive community-level work in three districts with a population of 223,250 children from 0 to 8. Our two priority goals are:

National scale-up of quality early learning services for young children aged 0-8 years living in poor rural communities

Three basic obstacles stand in the way of realising the potential of young children in Tanzania to learn: i) malnutrition – 42% of five year olds show signs of stunting and 5% shows signs of wasting ; ii) poor preparation for formal learning – 63% of children do not attend preschool, and among those that do student-teacher ratios are as high as 74 to 1 ; and iii) poor quality of primary schools, where despite net enrolment rates of 95%, the ratio of qualified teachers to students is 54 to 1.  As a result, only 50% of primary school leavers are able to pass their final examinations.  These statistics are worse in rural areas, where half of all children live below the basic needs poverty line and 15% of the adult population (20% women, 10% men) have never had any formal education. 

Tanzania image

This may seem like a bleak picture, but there are very positive signs of improvement. Our strategies are intended to contribute to ongoing efforts in the country to scale up an integrated early childhood development policy (IECD policy) that targets children from 0 to 8 years of age with services in health, nutrition and education.

Reduction in violence in rural families with young children aged 0-8 years

In a nationwide study endorsed by the Tanzanian government, 75% of children and youth aged 13-24 reported experiencing physical violence (punching, kicking, or whipping) by a relative, teacher or intimate partner before the age of 18. The most common aggressors were children’s family members. Research by the World Health Organization in Tanzania further suggests that as many as 42% of ever-partnered urban women and 56% of ever-partnered rural women have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and 7% and 12% respectively were beaten during at least one pregnancy.

Our strategies to reduce violence are premised on the belief that a major driver of the problem is the existence of social norms that place women and children in roles of inferior status and which consider family violence a taboo issue to be dealt with ‘privately’. This is reflected in the fact that 60% of Tanzanian women 15 to 49 believe wife-beating is justified under certain circumstances, and that certain forms of corporal punishment of children are still legal in all settings. 

Highlights from 2014

  • The Department of Social Welfare and the Institute of Social Work incorporated parenting skills into their curriculum for working with vulnerable families.

Programme strategy

Download a summary of our Tanzania strategy, outlining how we are approaching the goals summarised above, and a shorter two-page handout.


Do you have comments on our goals in Tanzania? Please contact our Programme Officer for Tanzania, Karisia Gichuke: karisia.gichuke@bvleerf.nl.

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