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Remembering Nyerere in Tanzania

Marie-Aude Fouéré

Part 6. Post-Mwalimu Education?

Chapter 11. The University of Dar es Salaam: A Post-Nyerere Institution of Higher Education?

Legacies, Continuities and Changes in an Institutional Space (1961-2012)

Olivier Provini

Note de l’auteur

I wish to thank Marie-Aude Fouéré who provided significant scientific feedback, constructive comments and advice during the writing process. I am grateful to IFRA for supporting my research from 2011 to 2013. Finally, my thanks go to Hélène Provini, Hugh Dowding, Thierry Perronnet and Sina Schlimmer as my text is all the better for their comments and corrections.

Texte intégral

  • 1 See the website of the Chair: For instance, during the “Third Juli (...)
  • 2 See MNF’s website:
  • 3 UDSM, “Fourth Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival, Programme” (2012: 6) (quotation from Nyerere, 1 (...)

1In 2008, the Council of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) approved the appointment of Professor Issa G. Shivji to the Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere Professorial Research Chair in Pan-African Studies. The Chair was officially launched on 15th April to coincide with the birthday of the first President of Tanzania (12th April 1922). Since then, a Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival has been organized every year in the month of April during which a renowned academic personality – the Distinguished Nyerere Lecturer – is invited to deliver a conference on a topic of his/her choice.1 This festival is supported by the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation (MNF), an organisation established in June 1996 by Nyerere himself and which, today, pays him a permanent tribute by disseminating his political thought through various media and the publication of his speeches.2 This festival is also the occasion to publicly debate Mwalimu’s political philosophy and thoughts on education and more generally on the socio-political space in Tanzania. For instance, the “Second Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival” (12th-15th April 2010) was conceived as a week of reflection on the Arusha Declaration, advertised with these words by Nyerere reprinted on a large banner hung on the Administration Hall of the university: “We have been oppressed a great deal, we have been exploited a great deal, we have been disregarded a great deal… Now we want a revolution” (Nyerere, 1969: 235). The fourth festival programme, held in 2012 from 12-13th April, bore again several quotations by Nyerere on the importance of culture for nation-building, such as: “A country which lacks its own culture is no more than a collection of people without the spirit which makes them a nation”,3 which resonates with other reprinted quotations by Frantz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral along the same lines. On these occasions, books by or about Nyerere are on sale at the entrance of UDSM’s Nkrumah Hall where the festival takes place.

Banner of the Second Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival, 2010 (by Olivier Provini, 24th April 2010)

Banner of the Second Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival, 2010 (by Olivier Provini, 24th April 2010)

2In the face of the impact of the neoliberal turn on Tanzanian policies since the end of the 1980s, Nyerere’s words on exploitation, revolution and nation-building, but also on Ujamaa (socialism) and Kujitegemea (self-reliance) – the catchwords of Tanzania’s African socialism – may seem outmoded.

  • 4 The term ‘neoliberalism’ is used to understand and underline the pregnancy of the state in the proc (...)
  • 5 The university, geographically located on a hill outside Dar es Salaam, was “one of the few in Afri (...)

3Yet, rather than seeing the recurring references to Nyerere and his views on higher education as an anachronism that may soon disappear, I contend that the university space reflects the imbrication of opposing dynamics. Indeed, from its initial path informed by Tanzania’s brand of socialism (Bjerk, 2010) to its adaptation to the market economy since the mid-1980s, the University of Dar es Salaam – the historic, oldest and biggest university in the country – is a unique model of evolution of public policy in a neoliberal context, informed both by the past and the present.4 “Constructed as a showpiece of Tanzania’s new postcolonial era” (Ivaska, 2011: 124), UDSM owed its early reputation to the tremendous efforts and high hopes placed in it by the fledgling Tanzanian state. Nyerere himself, in an address opening the University College Campus on 21st August 1964, stressed that the ultimate objective of the University was to “contribute to the raising of the standard of living of the mass of the people”, notably by training a cohort of loyal and high-level Tanzanians at the service of the national project for modern socialist development (Ivaska, 2011: 127–129). The Hill, as UDSM was referred, also owed its regional repute and attractiveness to the many intellectuals, notably leftist expatriates, who theorized and taught development and historical socialism in the 1960s-1970s, embraced under the term of “Dar es Salaam school” (Shivji, 1993: 77–88, 129).5 Yet, with the neoliberal revolution of the late 1980s and its watchwords of “good governance” and “efficiency”, the socialist past may seem far away today. The vision and mission of higher education developed in the 1960s have been altered, disrupting balances put in place after independence and generating new social and political spaces. However, it is striking to see that this neoliberal turn has not entirely transformed practices and representations. Julius K. Nyerere’s shadow is not merely present as a tutelary figure through his pictures on administration offices’ walls, nearby those of incumbent President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete. The pervasive presence of Nyerere in the public space through his images, his words and the reverential tributes paid to him (Fouéré, 2009, 2011, 2014; see also Askew, 2006; Becker, 2013), alongside those actual changes in policies, highlights the specific situation of Tanzania, as a “post-socialist” space (Pitcher and Askew, 2006; Fouéré, 2011). Analysing the current university configuration through this post-socialist paradigm that “seeks to address theoretically and empirically the current state of formerly socialist African countries by privileging post-socialism as its frame”, and asking “what institutional and discursive legacies has socialism left behind, and how might they inform current processes?” (Pitcher and Askew, 2006: 3) help understand the interlocked pattern of a priori antagonist models in higher education. In “post-socialism”, the prefix “post-” does not entail that the socialist horizon has totally disappeared, but rather, points to institutional legacies, symbolic frameworks and individual or collective strategies stemming from the socialist past. The presence of the past in the present, though much reframed and reshaped in sometimes deeply ambiguous ways, explains why it is necessary to adopt a historical perspective to explore the intricacies of higher education reforms in contemporary Tanzania, notably in view of the mobilisation of the figure of Nyerere in the contemporary Tanzanian public space. Can we identify legacies of the socialist past in the present? How do such legacies – whether as conceptions of what education should be, or as actual bureaucratic practices – intermingle with and impact upon today’s reforms, shaping Tanzania’s singular trajectory in the present?

4In my view, the post-socialist paradigm has much in common with the notion of ‘path dependence’ used today in the public policy approach. Indeed, the path dependence concept is heuristic to apprehend spaces where several opposed dynamics cohabit and intermingle, and to understand why there are limited breaks or changes in political structures (Pierson, 2000). According to Levi (1997: 28), “path dependence has to mean, if it is to mean anything, that once a country or region has started down a track, the costs of reversal are very high. There will be other choice points, but the entrenchments of certain institutional arrangements obstruct an easy reversal of the initial choice. Perhaps the better metaphor is a tree, rather than a path. From the same trunk, there are many different branches and smaller branches. Although it is possible to turn around or to clamber – and essential if the chosen branch dies – the branch on which a climber begins is the one [it] tends to follow”. This conception of transition points to the idea that institutional configurations may progress slowly or marginally. The actors who wish to implement reforms face resistance in the form of bureaucratic routines, collective action, etc. which may lead to negotiated change or even status quo (Dupuy and Thoenig, 1985; Fontaine and Hassenteufel, 2002). In the case of UDSM, similar dynamics can be seen, notably through the role of the students’ organisation. As will be discussed further below, students play a crucial role in conciliation, for instance in consciously using Mwalimu’s shadow and symbol to contest the financial participation of the students to the university costs.

5Thus, we argue that UDSM is situated in an in-between space set between transition, through the implementation of a new neoliberal agenda, and continuity, with the maintaining of representations and practices related to a socialist-oriented approach of education, notably in relation to the financial engagement of the state in UDSM global budget. Even if transformations are manifest, in particular in university research, the higher education system remains widely subsidized by the Tanzanian government. Negotiations delay the implementation of an actual cost-sharing policy and advent of the privatisation of UDSM, unlike in the neighbouring universities of Kenya and Uganda.

The University of Dar es Salaam: An Institution for National Development

  • 6 From the 1920s, Britain started formulating educational policy for its African colonies.
    In 1936-193 (...)
  • 7 The language policy in Tanzania generates a lot of debates, especially because of the transition be (...)

6UDSM was first established in 1961 as a college of the university of London. In 1963, it became a constituent college of the University of East Africa.6 A clear division of labour was introduced between colleges: Makerere was a pre-eminent institution in East Africa with an established strength in Medicine and great reputation in Liberal Arts and Agriculture; Nairobi concentrated on Engineering and Business; and Dar es Salaam got specialized in Law and Development Studies. In July 1970, it became an independent national university (Cooksey, Levey and Mkude, 2003: 1). During this time, the mission and vision upon which UDSM was to develop were formulated. As early as 27th June 1966 Nyerere emphasized in his opening speech to the World University Assembly in Dar es Salaam that “the university in a developing society must put the emphasis of its works on subjects of immediate moment to the nation in which it exists, and it must be committed to the people of that nation and their humanistic goals” (Nyerere, 1969: 183). This quotation reminds us of the ambiguous and complex relations between political power and universities. Conceived as a symbol of sovereignty and independence, universities stood as a nationalist emblem against the former colonial state (Hargreaves, 1973: 26–36). Universities had a global mission in the construction and the development of the new state through the production of a new independent national elite (Charton and Owuor, 2008: 108–109) committed to the national project – whom Ivaska, in the case of Tanzania, calls the “servants of the nation” (Ivaska, 2011: 126–127). Paradoxically, universities were also recipients of European legacy. The use of English as the official language in higher education,7 or the ceremonies of graduation with their usual clothes and rites are symbols of such narrow links with the colonial past. Since they were established, universities have been hybrid and consequently often controversial, constructions of past and present practices.

Higher education and the new ideology

  • 8 Strictly speaking, the Arusha Declaration refers to a specific declaration and policy resolutions a (...)
  • 9 In 1965, TANU Youth League sections were introduced into secondary schools; they became more active (...)

7The development of a “socialist attitude of mind” (Nyerere, 1962: 1), a prerequisite for building the new Tanzanian socialist society and citizen subjectivities, was notably to be accomplished through government education institutions. The Arusha Declaration of February 1967 was the moment when Julius Nyerere fully committed Tanzania to this socialist project under the development path of Ujamaa na Kujitegemea, or “socialism and self-reliance”.8 Interestingly, an event that influenced the Declaration was, in 1966, the opposition of the students of the University College to be compelled to National Service. They also rejected the imposition of what they called “political indoctrination during the National Service program” (Bienen, 1974: 427; Ivaska, 2005). The students’ stand in opposition to Nyerere’s conception of dedication to the social state resulted in stronger control on the university, notably through the creation of youth organisations affiliated to the single party, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). TANU was indeed charged, along with the Ministry of Education, to introduce the guidelines laid down in the Arusha Declaration into the education program.9 This episode is the first of a long negotiation process – sometimes marred by violent action – between students, state and university administration authorities over the means and ends of higher education which can still be observed today.

  • 10 Opening speech of the university college campus, Dar es Salaam, 21st August 1964 (Lema, Mbilinyi an (...)

8Mwalimu always asserted that universities in East Africa could no longer afford to be disinterested parties in the task of nation-building. The university had to be developmental, and to be so it had to meet the standards of higher education like everywhere else in the world while at the same time being active in building the nation (Robertson, 1979: 34–45). Its curriculum, syllabus, research, personnel, moral code and philosophy had to be created in view of individual and collective involvement in developing Tanzanian society. One crucial aspect was to make a real break in the education content inherited from the colonial period: “The third action we have taken is to make the education provided in all our schools much more Tanzanian in content. No longer do our children simply learn British and European history. Faster than would have been thought possible our University College and other institutions are providing materials on the history of Africa” (Nyerere, 1973: 49). The national university was considered a crucial tool for emancipation. As the newly independent state depended heavily on expatriates to staff the middle and upper cadres of the civil service, the government implemented a new training programme leading to the Africanization of the workforce: “Very often facts are extremely unpleasant… Those of our people who were denied a chance of education [are not] more competent to be doctors, engineers, teachers or administrators simply because we want to replace expatriate servants by local ones”.10

From speeches to facts: The implementation of University policies

9The principles of equality, freedom and unity developed by Nyerere were put in action through concrete political and social reforms in the country which affected all sectors, higher education included. The five-year period from 1968 to 1973 marked the first stage of the implementation of Nyerere’s ideology. The policy of self-reliance in education was implemented in at least three ways: i) the abolishment of racial distinctions, ii) an expansion of educational facilities, and iii) the Africanization of education contents and teachers. Education was by far the largest social service costs. During the “First Five Year Plan”, introduced in 1964, priority was given to the expansion of opportunities for secondary and higher education (Bienen, 1974: 281–306).

  • 11 In November 1974, the National Executive Committee met in Musoma to review Tanzania’s progress in i (...)

10When the college of the University of East Africa became an independent national university, the head of state became its titular Chancellor. It was a way for the government and the party to control the day-to-day administrative and academic affairs of the university. This centralized plan had great impacts in the management of the university, to the point of changing admissions conditions (Cooksey, Levey and Mkude, 2003: 1). For instance, with the Musoma resolution in 1974, students were eligible for higher education only if they had completed one year of compulsory national service and had a minimum of two years of work experience.11 This was a radical departure from past practices established in the British Commonwealth where admission was based on Advanced level performance.

  • 12 Some new units charged with development issues were created: the Economic Research Bureau (ERB), th (...)

11There were also directives to review curricula in order to make adjustments to the needs and aspirations of the new state. During his speech at the inauguration of the University of Dar es Salaam in 29th August 1970 Julius K. Nyerere explained that “the aim of the university of Dar es Salaam must be service to the needs of developing socialist Tanzania. This purpose must determine the subjects taught, the content of the courses, the method of teaching, and the manner in which the university is organized, as well as its relations with the community at large” (Schutte, 1972: 75). According to him, it was unnecessary to teach students by drawing examples from Europe. Considering that the university was an African institution, it had to reflect its African character by Africanizing its curricula, syllabi and staff (Mngomezulu, 2004: 266–311). In this way, a course called “Development studies” was introduced at UDSM to enable students to theorize and understand innovative alternative development strategies.12 The department of history was also famous for its several schools of thoughts (Slater, 1986). It was a place where scholars debated the historical roots of Tanzanian egalitarianism, mass nationalism, or the role of the elite and popular forces in post-independence Africa (Ranger, 1971). The development of Marxist theory in UDSM was an original trait in the region and accounts for the university’s reputation regionally, if not internationally. Renowned leftist thinkers taught there for some years, among them Walter Rodney between 1966-1967 and 1969-1974 (Ivaska, 2011: 126).

The Neoliberal Turn: a Quiet Revolution13

  • 13 The “quiet revolution” is an expression used by D. Court to describe reforms in Makerere in a World (...)
  • 14 The former President Benjamin Mkapa (1995-2005) was partisan champion of privatisation.
    To him, the (...)

12During recent years Tanzania has been upheld as a champion of structural reforms in all its sectors. This is being reflected in relatively high growth rates and the stabilization of macro-economic parameters. This neoliberal shift was made under the presidency of Benjamin Mkapa (Havnevik and Isinika, 2010: 1–18).14 The 1980-1995 period was a transition between the Ujamaa model and an economy under transformation spearheaded by the international organisations (Mollel, 2005).

Shift in UDSM’s mission

13In the 1980-1990s, the Tanzanian government initiated global reforms (Kelsall, 2002) to answer political and economic crises. The education sector in Tanzania faced major constraints arising out of economic hardships, particularly the war against Idi Amin Dada’s Uganda, the sharp increase in prices of petroleum products and the drastic fall in volume and prices of agricultural product exports (Luhanga, 2009). During that period, UDSM started major transformations through the implementation of financial and managerial reforms labelled the Institutional Transformation Programme (ITP) which were achieved in 1991. It was argued that infrastructures, governance and curricula did not correspond to the new political, social and economic realities. This process of transformation was widely spread by UDSM publications produced by reformers.

14This neoliberal turn can be seen in the evolution of the missions of UDSM, as a comparison between the Official Act of 1970 and the 2003-2008 Strategic Plan brings to light. Tremendous changes in the lexical field of education point to the fact, more generally, that a “quiet revolution” (Court, 1980) was taking place in the conception of the university role. Whilst the Official Act of 1970 associated higher education with “national development”, the “needs of the nation”, or efforts to create a “sense of public responsibility” among students, the Strategic Plan of 2003-2008 underlines the regional and international “competitive environment” in higher education and research, and the necessity for the university to become a “major actor” in the region. It advocates “global competitiveness”, “vocational training” and “entrepreneurship” to adapt to the market. The recent reforms therefore prompted and resulted in a decisive shift in the mission of the university from development-oriented to market-driven ends. In 1999, the former President Benjamin Mkapa underlined this globalized and competitive context, saying: “Recognizing that the world of the 21th century will increasingly be globalized, we must devise new and more stringent strategies in initiating and managing change in African universities. Of necessity, African universities will have to strive to improve further the quality of their output if they are to continue to maintain even their current share of the local and international labour market” (Cooksey, Levey and Mkude, 2003: 13).

Evolution of UDSM’s mission in official documentation

Missions of the university according to the Official Act of

Missions of the university according to the 2003-2008
Strategic Plan

– To preserve, transmit and enhance knowledge for the benefit of the people of Tanzania in accordance with the principles of socialism accepted by the people of Tanzania
– To create a sense of public responsibility in the educated and promote respect for learning and pursuit of truth
– To prepare students to work with the people of Tanzania for the benefit of the nation
– To cooperate with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and the peoples of Tanzania in the planned and orderly development of education in the United Republic
– To stimulate and promote intellectual and cultural development of the United Republic for the benefit of the people of Tanzania

– To assume a leading role in the responsibility of University education and to make provision for centres and places of learning education, professional or vocational training, and research
– To promote continuing education to Tanzanians in order to maintain labour productivity and global competitiveness
– To excel in knowledge and human resource capacity building by ensuring a balance between quality and quantity
– To provide, promote and maintain centres of excellence and management exemplary in knowledge creation, skill development and entrepreneurship
– To stimulate students to engage in productive services and entertainment activities in and outside the University
– To establish mutually negotiated, beneficial and durable links within institution (s) of learning and research nationally, regionally and globally

15The current conception of higher education is linked with new recommendations made by international organisations (Brock-Utne, 2003). The university’s mission is harnessed to governmental priorities implying a state-planned organisation. The neoliberal turn underlines the advent of collective and individual competition as a structural norm and rationality, which has to regulate all behaviours (Dardot and Laval, 2009).

Reintroducing cost-sharing policy

  • 15 The policy of cost-sharing in higher education is not new in Tanzania. It existed during the coloni (...)

16During the period between 1975 and 1985, the higher education sector faced a serious financial crisis in terms of both recurrent and capital development budgets. For instance, the number of government fellowships available was very limited. The public system of higher education was caught between declining governmental revenues and a growing demand. The development of primary and secondary education, which had been encouraged by international institutions, had generated a greater demand for higher education. In response, Tanzania turned to private revenue. A policy of cost-sharing,15 whereby costs are shared by governments, parents and students, was implemented in three phases. In phase 1 (1992-1993), students and parents were required to cover transportation, application registration, entry examination and union fees; in phase 2 (1993-1994), they had to pay for food and accommodation only; in the last phase (2004-2005), they were required to pay tuition and examination fees, books, stationary costs and medical insurance (Ishengoma, 2004: 105–106).

17Such a policy is premised on the assumption that cost-sharing makes students and their families more discerning consumers and universities more cost-conscious providers – what is called “producer responsiveness” (Ishengoma, 2004: 104). The other argument is that it increases the independence of university structure and actors, as they no longer depend on government budget exclusively. Obviously, these reforms generate a new definition of the university. Knowledge becomes a private good, which must be profitable in the short term. The university becomes a service provider, and students are seen as consumers. A member of the top administration and lecturer in humanities in his sixties explained to me the radically different situation of students in the 1970s as compared with today: “In the beginning, students just came here to study and they paid no costs except just their own fares. Books were provided. In my first years, I just paid my fare. As soon as I arrived in the campus, all was free. I go to the cafeteria. I go to the bookshop […]. All books were paid by the university, even books that we found outside the university, in the city. You gave your receipt, and they paid back your books […]. At this time, higher education was only for few people. The government says that this situation is not possible. So, I think also, that we have been pushed by the World Bank and development partners, outside the country”.

The budgetary outsourcing in University research: the end of self-reliance

18The policy of cost-sharing was not the only strategy applied to save money. The government also drastically reduced its investment in the research sector. The university research has long been strongly subsidized by the Tanzanian state (Harrison, Mulley and Holtom, 2009: 271-298), but since the 2000s, the research sector has mainly been financed by external public organisms. External agencies contribute up to 99 % to UDSM research sector in 2000–2005. The main donors were the Swedish agency Sida/SAREC, the Norwegian organism NORAD and the US institution Carnegie.

Budget in research sector at UDSM (1999-2004)

Budget in research sector at UDSM (1999-2004)

Reference: UDSM (2005: 54)

19Donors invested in staff training, scholarship, infrastructure and the research sector. Relations between donors and UDSM can be developed through two channels, either by direct relations between an external agency and a faculty, or by indirect relations between donors and the university central administration. In this case, it is the university, with the agreement of a given donor, which reallocates money to several faculties. These modalities of financing reveal the unequal marketattractiveness of faculties. The university report entitled “Self-Evaluation of the Sida/SAREC Bilateral Research Cooperation Programme 1998- 2008” shows that social sciences are the “losers” of those investments (UDSM, 2007: 43–63). Moreover, the key transformation brought about by external funding is the withdrawal of the government from the research sector. This huge dependence can generate perverse effects for curricula and, more generally, is a danger for research as it is dependent on the internal reorganisations taking place in these foreign donor institutions. For instance, the Norway Embassy through its agency NORAD/Oslo, recently reduced its investments, especially in humanities departments, for the reason that its development strategy would now focus on climate and energy (Havnevik and Isinika, 2010: 57–70). NORAD/Oslo has developed a partnership with another state university, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro. This new configuration directly impacts on the global functioning of faculties, and more generally, on the university.

20Furthermore, Sida/SAREC support accounts for about fifty per cent of the donor funding to the University of Dar es Salaam. This support has lasted for over thirty years. For UDSM, the challenge is to ensure that Sida/SAREC maintains, increases and diversifies its support. This interference is harmful to the independence and autonomy of the university in the short- and mid-term. Even though ideals of self– reliance did not fully translate into actual practices under Nyerere, as socialist Tanzania paradoxically depended upon donor aid – especially stemming from Scandinavian countries –, today’s open call to outside agencies is a huge break with past conceptions of national sovereignty and autonomy. Present-day dependence of higher education upon external donors fully goes against Nyerere’s warning of “eternal vigilance” vis-à-vis foreign aid: “The Arusha Declaration says: To govern yourself is to be self-reliant […]. The International Monetary Fund is not a friend of Tanzania or of any poor country. It is an Institution used by the imperialist countries, which govern it to control the economy of a poor country and destabilise the governments of countries they do not like. Tanzania is one of those countries, and we must not forget it – or allow people to think that we have forgotten it. It has been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. So, let us be vigilant! If you agree to give them a goat they will demand a camel!” (Nyerere, 1969: 12).

The Ideological Legacy: From Memories to Practices

21The reintroduction of a cost-sharing policy, the implementation of a new language about higher education competitiveness in the face of the market demand, and the retreat of the state from research budgets are concrete examples of a political, social and economic shift that reflects neoliberal transition in Tanzania. However, traces of the conceptions and practices of higher education as implemented during Nyerere’s times still shape today’s functioning of the university, thus pointing to the uniqueness of the system of higher education in Tanzania in the region A comparison with neighbouring universities in East Africa will better highlight the peculiar trajectory of UDSM, revealing how much Tanzania follows the track of path dependence. It is indeed a trajectory of resistance to privatisation processes via negotiated continuity.

The ongoing though insufficient financial involvement of the state

22A study of UDSM budgetary evolution shows an increase in funding allocated by the government from 7,797,373 US$ in 1987-1988 to 26,468,208 US$ in 2006-2007. This investment, although it is on the rise, is nonetheless insufficient compared to the increasing number of students enrolled. In other words, there is a manifest inadequacy of the budget when matched with needs of the university, all the more so as the latter is compelled to create new faculties and curricula to answer an increased demand for higher education. The decrease in the amount allocated by the Tanzanian government to one student clearly reveals this inadequacy: from 2,697 US$ in 1987-1988, it dropped to 1,279 US$ in 2006-2007 (Provini, 2012a).

23In addition, the government still sponsors the great majority of students. A hybrid model of scholarship and student loan has been put in place. Since the academic year 2002-2003, the government has imposed quotas for scholarships which cover all university fees. Concerning the system of student loans, introduced in 2005-2006 to partly cover tuition fees, other academic fees, room and board, it finances the great majority of student in B.A. At the end of their studies, students have to repay their loans but many do not. This situation produces considerable economic damage for the state. In brief, the state is not absent, but its role changes: there is not a clear-cut privatisation process.

24The cost-sharing policy has been a symbol and an instrument used by international institutions to promote the marketization of higher education in Africa. The failure of the implementation of a complete cost-sharing policy in Tanzania requires new insight into the current, and singular, state of higher education in this formerly socialist country in order to understand the formation of a hybrid model of bureaucratic and discursive practices at the university. A reconfiguration of new spaces and ways of intervention has taken place, which implies negotiations between public and private, and between inside and outside actors.

University Actors and Negotiated Continuity

  • 16 Daily News Reporter. “Students Threaten Action Against Government.” Daily News, 5 February 1992, p. (...)
  • 17 Daily News Reporter. “Go Back to Classes, Sentate Tells Students.” Daily News, February 13 1992, p. (...)
  • 18 See for instance: Cosato, Chumi. “Government Allays Fears to D’Salaam University Freshers.” The Gua (...)

25The two main university associations, DARUSO (Dar es Salaam University Students Organisation) and UDASA (University of Dar es Salaam Academic Staff Assembly), played a significant role in mediating university crises during the implementation of reforms (Luhanga et al., 2003: 70–71). The example of the student association provides a good vantage point to identify actors involved in limiting the neoliberal change and to understand that UDSM had a leftist contingent legacy which “was essential in establishing the university’s reputation across Africa and the world as an important nodal point of socialist thought and activism. Indeed, the radicals, as they were often called in Dar es Salaam, managed to achieve a visibility far beyond their numbers” (Ivaska, 2011: 147). DARUSO strategy was to protect the economic status of students. Several demonstrations took place to particularly contest the new cost-sharing policy. In 1992, a long process of discussion and balance of power began between students and both the central administration and the government. In February, a statement signed by two students threatened the government of unspecified action if it did not scrap the new cost–sharing proposal for higher education. The statement “has given the Government three days (…) to implement the students demands”, and the students warned they would “take action against anyone trying to interfere with education in any way”.16 This threat eventually led to a boycott demanding the suspension of the cost– sharing scheme in education.17 More generally, from the beginning of the 2000s and the launch of the third phase of the cost-sharing policy, the academic years had been punctuated by many demonstrations and strikes across UDSM campuses.18

  • 19 The Guardian, April 17 2007, p. 1.

UDSM students chant as they went on strike. Their messages are often made of direct attacks against the central administration and incumbent President. On the left, we can read: “Higher education is mandatory. Travels abroad, ostentatious cars are a luxury and a shame”; and on the right: “The problem is not the loan board… It is with this government of Kikwete’s buddies”.19

  • 20 Guardian Reporters. “Students March Against Loan Scheme.” The Guardian, 29 January 2007, p. 1.
  • 21 Cosato, Chumi. “Government Allays Fears to D’Salaam University Freshers.” The Guardian, 28 Septembe (...)
  • 22 Mukiza, Darius. “Govt hands Tied Over Tuition Fee Hike.” Daily News, 30 July 2009, p. 3.

26In this contest, Mwalimu’s legacy is frequently used by students’ leaders as a tutelary figure to foster student mobilisation. For instance in January 2007, “students from all constituents of the University of Dar es Salaam had assembled at the Nkrumah Hall of the University of Dar es Salaam at 9.00 am yesterday from where they marched to Jangwani grounds. Once at Jangwani, they listened to their leaders, who said that the government should emulate Mwalimu Nyerere’s example of prioritizing education for all eligible students, rather than making it a privilege of the well-to-do lots”.20 The students used this reference to Nyerere and his education policy as a political legitimate language to make their claims and better bring out the irony of the government’s discourse when it promotes higher education reform today, at the same time defending the marketization of higher education while pretending to honour and carry on Nyerere’s legacy. In fact, the Tanzanian government often plays a double game in these negotiation processes. This was the case in 2002 when the government assured students of higher learning institutions that it would continue to be their major financier through providing loans and scholarships to students whereas the policy of cost–sharing was reintroduced ten years before. The former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Ruth Mollel, declared that fears that government might abdicate its responsibility are not valid: “I would like to allay fears expressed by many that by introducing cost–sharing in higher education the government intends to abdicate its responsibility as the main provider of this constitutional rights to every Tanzanian”. She added that “due to economic disparities, the Government recognised that not all students could raise enough funds for their studies”.21 Another example is when the former Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Dr Pius Ng’wandu, explained that university fees had to be regulated: “after hearing many complaints from MPs, we feel the fees are high and cannot be afforded by the majority of the Tanzanians”.22 With this strategy of double discourses, the Tanzanian government opted for appeasement on campuses and agreement with international recommendations at the same time. Negotiations between students and the government led to a process of negotiated change and translated into budgetary reforms that did no fully embrace the neoliberal model originally supposed to be adopted.

27The example of the partial implementation of cost-sharing policy show that we should not underestimate the weight of university actors to appreciate how structures, modalities and configurations emerged in UDSM and are subject to debates and compromises through words and actions. This provisional situation about cost-sharing eventually satisfied all actors: i) DARUSO students, whose struggle against cost-sharing policy has been the basis of their legitimacy in negotiations, and was therefore reinforced; ii) university lecturers and professors, who even though they may denounce the privatisation of research and the decline of the quality of teaching, find alternative ways to improve their wages and publish their researches by resorting to consultancies; iii) the Tanzanian government, which is striving to save public money through its financial withdrawal to answer donors’ requirements while trying to maintain some of its specific practices as well as social stability on campuses with a cost-sharing policy incompletely and unclearly implemented. We can say that, constantly mediating between internal and external actors and faced with the necessity to adapt to the new political, social and economic context while meeting with resistance anchored in past practices and representations of how higher education should be, UDSM has adopted a “cosmetic market doctrine” (Provini, 2012b). The peculiarity of the situation of UDSM is even more manifest if we compare it with the neighbouring universities of Kenya and Uganda.

A comparison with Nairobi and Makerere

  • 23 See website–to–joomla.

28Tanzania’s neighbouring East African states of Kenya and Uganda have been used as models to drive higher education reforms at UDSM since the late 1980s (Kimambo, 2003: 231–50). A regional area was put in place through which new knowledge and “good practices” could spread throughout East Africa. This process was facilitated by common administrative heritage and routine between the universities of Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Makerere associated with the University of East Africa which had educated regional elites to succeed the colonial administrators at independence (Kithinji, 2012). It was also stimulated by the East African Community (EAC) and its major institution for higher education, the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA). This council aims to facilitate regional education interactions and cooperation, and “promotes comparable higher education standards and systems for sustainable development”.23 It is in this context that a regional process of harmonisation of higher education reforms has been conducted until today. Nevertheless, we can argue that regionalisation in theory does not match with regionalisation in practice; or in other words, efforts to drive harmonisation of higher education reforms at the East African level has not fully entailed a standardisation of concrete practices.

29A good example of this is the opportunity to admit privately sponsored students which is the headlight policy of international organisations’ requirements. Makerere is the first university in the region to have reorganized its financial system and governance. This explains why, in the 1990s, donors took to touting the experience of Makerere as the model for driving reform elsewhere in East Africa (Court, 1999: 5). Thus, in 2002, it is the first time that the university global budget mostly depended on the budget generated by private students (52 %). In the same way, since 2003 – even if there is an exception in 2006 – the University of Nairobi (UoN) has also been principally subsidized by self–sponsored programs (Modules II and III) because the majority of students are private students. For instance, in 2011 58 % of the global budget depended on private funds, namely on private students and activities. At UoN, a joke circulates between Kenyan lecturers to make fun of these mixed public–private systems, as explained to me by a lecturer in history: “We are the oldest university in Kenya. We are the largest public university in Kenya. And we are also the largest private university in Kenya”. Despite the existence of privately sponsored programs in Tanzania since 1996, the admissions of such privately sponsored students have remained very low in public universities. In 2002-2003, privately sponsored students on UDSM’s main campus numbered only 13 %. Compared to the Makerere University ‘success story’ of privately sponsored students from the point of view of donor institutions – a success put into question by some renown scholars (Mamdani, 2007) – the Tanzanian new policy for higher education, characterized by resilience and negotiation that have hindered a strict application of neoliberal reforms, can be seen as a failure. The specificity of the Tanzanian path with regards to higher education reforms is made more relevant in comparison with its neighbouring universities. While Makerere university and the University of Nairobi embraced a total based-market model, the University of Dar es Salaam is situated, at least until today, in an in-between space, set between transition, through the implementation of a new neoliberal agenda, and continuity, with the maintaining of socialist legacies of higher education in institutional practices and visions of education.

Makerere University privatisation process (1995-2005)

Makerere University privatisation process (1995-2005)

References: Kasozi (2009: 164); Court (1999: 5–7); Makerere University (2010: 5)

The University of Nairobi privatisation process (2000-2011)

The University of Nairobi privatisation process (2000-2011)

References: Budgetary Control Section, University of Nairobi; University of Nairobi (2000- 2011)

A Post-socialist University? USDM as an Institutional Space of Transition and Continuity

30Transformations implemented at UDSM symbolize political, economic and social changes which have affected Tanzania since the end of the 1980s, geared towards the future but also looking back to the past. As Pitcher and Askew said, “in short, socialism has left institutional, aesthetic, psychological and discursive legacies that African peoples and their governments have rejected, appropriated and reconfigured in order to reflect on the past and to negotiate the terrain of contemporary life” (Pitcher and Askew, 2006: 11). Indeed, the government is currently requested to compose with internal and external actors in order to build a new higher education system. The university reforms have created a new market where students, teachers, faculties, public and private universities are in competition. Donors and international institutions believe that the most effective way to promote market forces within the university is to give maximum freedom to academic units. However, the more these reforms disintegrate the decision-making process, the more the academic units reorganize their activities in response to the market. In that sense, the university of Dar es Salaam is a good reflection of contemporary Tanzania: it is a space of individualist competition, where neoliberalism increasingly shapes actors’ behaviours; but it is also a space of continuity, where certain manifestations of the nature and mission of education embodied in Julius K. Nyerere and the socialist-inspired national project for nation-building and national development, as well as certain bureaucratic and state functioning put in place in the 1960s-1970s, also orientate practices.

31The main question remains of how long this hybrid situation will be maintained. Indeed, this mixed system of transition within continuity results from the co-presence of two generations on the campus. Unsurprisingly, the difference in discourses on the mission and workings of education is highly significant between old generations of lecturers, brought up in socialist times and whose conceptions of education conflate with Nyerere’s; and the new generation of lecturers who, having integrated the new language of standards, competitiveness and good governance, tend to think that the old ideology is no longer adapted to the new socio-economic context. This suggests that, if the Tanzanian state and its elite continues to promote market forces and distances itself from the ideologies of the past, the new generational renewal of scholars will likely complete the neoliberal transition on the campus soon.



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1 See the website of the Chair: For instance, during the “Third Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival” (April 2011), there were communications about “Pan– Africanism and the Challenge of East African Integration” (Issa G. Shivji), “Tanzanian Socialism and Africa’s Future: Mere Footnote or First Step on a Long March” (John Saul) and “Nkrumahism and Consciencism in the Struggle for African Emancipation in Contrast to Senghor’s Negritude” (Dani W. Nabudere). See the publication Chemchemi. Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial Chair in Pan-African Studies no. 4, 2011.

2 See MNF’s website:

3 UDSM, “Fourth Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival, Programme” (2012: 6) (quotation from Nyerere, 1966: 186).

4 The term ‘neoliberalism’ is used to understand and underline the pregnancy of the state in the process of shifts and reforms through advent of a new distantly governmental mode (Dardot and Laval, 2009: 13–15).

5 The university, geographically located on a hill outside Dar es Salaam, was “one of the few in Africa where debates and discussions have been a hall-mark of academic life” (Shivji, 1993: 129). In the 1960-1970s, intellectuals played a major role in the decision-making process of education policies through their reflections.

6 From the 1920s, Britain started formulating educational policy for its African colonies.
In 1936-1937, the publication of the De la Warr Commission Report set the process of establishing the federal University of East Africa, which was finally inaugurated in June 1963. It was perceived as a regional asset; the University of East Africa Act did not only set up the institution, but also reminded the people of East Africa that regional cooperation was extending its boundaries beyond specificities (Mngomezulu, 2004: 114–181).

7 The language policy in Tanzania generates a lot of debates, especially because of the transition between primary and secondary education. Swahili is used in primary education while English is the medium of instruction at the secondary and post–secondary levels. Under the headline “Education for self-reliance”, Tanzania transformed the educational system into a force for the common good (Ivaska, 2011: 147–148). The establishment of Swahili as a national language was instrumental in the move towards self–reliance in general. But despite Nyerere’s desire to reimagine the education system through this new paradigm, English remained the language used in secondary and higher education. However, there is a gap between theory and practice, in the sense that nowadays, many university courses and informal discussions between teachers and students are in Swahili. Swahili often becomes the de facto language of instruction because secondary schools students are not adequately prepared to use English as a medium of instruction.

8 Strictly speaking, the Arusha Declaration refers to a specific declaration and policy resolutions adopted in February 1967 at a Conference of the National Executive Committee of TANU held in the town of Arusha in northern Tanzania (Msekwa and Maliyamkono, 1979: 20–37). The term Ujamaa “proposed that socialism was native to Africa, and as such was not the socialism of Europe that was built on class conflict” (Bjerk, 2010: 285–286).

9 In 1965, TANU Youth League sections were introduced into secondary schools; they became more active at the University College in 1966.

10 Opening speech of the university college campus, Dar es Salaam, 21st August 1964 (Lema, Mbilinyi and Rajani, 2004: 18).

11 In November 1974, the National Executive Committee met in Musoma to review Tanzania’s progress in its policies of socialism and self-reliance. UDSM implemented the resolution from the 1975–1976 academic year until the government reversed the Resolution and removed student’s pre–requisite conditions of admission.

12 Some new units charged with development issues were created: the Economic Research Bureau (ERB), the Bureau of Resource Assessment and Land Use Planning (BRALUP), the current Institute of Resource Assessment (IRA), the Institute of Kiswahili Research and the Institute of Adult Education (Cooksey, Levey and Mkude, 2003: 2–3).

13 The “quiet revolution” is an expression used by D. Court to describe reforms in Makerere in a World Bank report (Court, 1999).

14 The former President Benjamin Mkapa (1995-2005) was partisan champion of privatisation.
To him, the privatisation process was adopted not because it was the cure for all economies woes the country was facing, but because the former economic system had proved a failure: “privatisation does not mean that we have found a cure for our problems. I want to remind you that every new strategy has its pros and cons. Privatisation likewise, has its advantages and disadvantages”. See Guardian Reporter, “Mkapa Defends Privatisation”, The Guardian, 1 June 1992, p. 1.

15 The policy of cost-sharing in higher education is not new in Tanzania. It existed during the colonial period and post-independence Tanzania until 1967, when the government implemented Ujamaa. During the colonial period and even after Independence, students in higher education institutions paid tuition fees. In 1967, the Tanzanian government decided to grant scholarships to all students admitted to UDSM, which was then the only public university. Cost-sharing in higher education was officially reinstated in January 1992 (Ishengoma, 2004: 105).

16 Daily News Reporter. “Students Threaten Action Against Government.” Daily News, 5 February 1992, p. 1.

17 Daily News Reporter. “Go Back to Classes, Sentate Tells Students.” Daily News, February 13 1992, p. 1 and Daily News Reporter. “Students End Class Boycott.” Daily News, 18 February 1992, p. 1.

18 See for instance: Cosato, Chumi. “Government Allays Fears to D’Salaam University Freshers.” The Guardian, 28 September 2002, p. 4; Daily News Reporter. “Dar Varisty Students Want More Boom.” Daily News, 29 April 2006, p. 2; Mwasumbi, Jonas. “Students Implore Full Govt Sponsorship.” Daily News, 15 August 2006, p. 3; Kasiba, Sabato and Mambo, David. “UCLAS Students Boycott Still on.” The Guardian, 24 February 2007, p. 3; Navuri, Angel. “UDSM Explodes Again Over Studies Stipend.” The Guardian, 17 April 2007, p. 12; Joseph, Hillary. “Varsity Student Boycott Smacks of Political Undertones.” The Guardian, 24 April 2007, p. 9; Kitabu, Gerald. “Dialogue at the Hill Should Take Centre Stage to Resolve Boycotts.” The Guardian, 29 April 2008, p. 11; Mushi, Deogratias. “Planned Students Strike Illegal, Says Prof. Maghembe.” Daily News, 4 November 2008, p. 3; Saiboko, Abdulwakil. “UDSM Students Boycott Classes.” Daily News, 11 November 2008, p. 2; Daily News Reporter. “UDSM Students Sent Packing.” Daily News, 13 November 2008, p. 1; Daily News Reporter. “UDSM College Students Go Home Too.” Daily News, 14 November 2008, p. 1; Mbashiru, Katare. “Calm Returns to UDSM After Failed Demonstrations.” 5 February 2011; Wa Simbeye, Finningan. “UDSM Students Defiant as Govt Pledges Allowance Review.” Daily News, 7 February 2011; Kagashe, Beatus. “UDSM Students Protest, Clash with Police in Dar.” The Citizen, 4 February 2011; Daily News Reporter. “Demonstration Another Strike Looms at UDSM.” The Citizen, 10 January 2011 and Mchome, Erick. “Taking a Hard–Line on Student Protests.” The Citizen, 17 January 2012.

19 The Guardian, April 17 2007, p. 1.

20 Guardian Reporters. “Students March Against Loan Scheme.” The Guardian, 29 January 2007, p. 1.

21 Cosato, Chumi. “Government Allays Fears to D’Salaam University Freshers.” The Guardian, 28 September 2002, p. 4.

22 Mukiza, Darius. “Govt hands Tied Over Tuition Fee Hike.” Daily News, 30 July 2009, p. 3.

23 See website–to–joomla.

Table des illustrations

Titre Banner of the Second Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival, 2010 (by Olivier Provini, 24th April 2010)
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Titre Budget in research sector at UDSM (1999-2004)
Crédits Reference: UDSM (2005: 54)
Fichier image/jpeg, 29k
Légende UDSM students chant as they went on strike. Their messages are often made of direct attacks against the central administration and incumbent President. On the left, we can read: “Higher education is mandatory. Travels abroad, ostentatious cars are a luxury and a shame”; and on the right: “The problem is not the loan board… It is with this government of Kikwete’s buddies”.19
Fichier image/jpeg, 47k
Titre Makerere University privatisation process (1995-2005)
Crédits References: Kasozi (2009: 164); Court (1999: 5–7); Makerere University (2010: 5)
Fichier image/jpeg, 43k
Titre The University of Nairobi privatisation process (2000-2011)
Fichier image/jpeg, 44k
Crédits References: Budgetary Control Section, University of Nairobi; University of Nairobi (2000- 2011)
Fichier image/jpeg, 10k


PhD student in political science (Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, France) and a former research fellow at the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) between 2011 and 2013. He works on transfers of higher education reforms in four public universities in East Africa: Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Makerere (Uganda), Nairobi (Kenya) and Burundi (Burundi).

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