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Remembering Nyerere in Tanzania

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Marie-Aude Fouéré

Part 6. Post-Mwalimu Education?

Chapter 12. Ward Secondary Schools, Elite Narratives and Nyerere’s Legacy

Sonia Languille

Texte intégral

1In 2006, the Government of Tanzania led by Prime Minister Edward Lowassa decided to enact an electoral promise inscribed in the CCM Manifesto for the 2005 presidential elections: to build a lower secondary school in each ward (the administrative level between district and villages, named kata in Swahili). This decision unleashed a movement of rapid expansion of lower secondary schooling of an extraordinary magnitude. Between 2004 and 2011, the number of secondary schools was multiplied by four, from about 1,290 to about 4,370 schools, and the number of students enrolled at O’Level grew by 325 %. The gross enrolment ratio for lower secondary education drastically improved from 12.4 % in 2004 to 50.2 % in 2011. However, from a learning perspective, this movement brought adverse outcomes. Between 2007 and 2012, the failure rate in the Certificate of Secondary Education Examination skyrocketed from 9.7 % to 56.2 %, fuelling intense debates in the media and in Parliament.

2This policy, which has profoundly modified the Tanzanian educational landscape over recent years, represents a rupture with the educational trajectory followed by the country for more than four decades. During Ujamaa, Education for Self-Reliance posited primary education and literacy as the overarching objective of the country’s educational policy; secondary education was construed as an education for few but free and of quality, a model of elitist but meritocratic education. Julius K. Nyerere’s imprint on this educational organisation was decisive; year after year, he consistently reiterated his conviction about Tanzania’s secondary education problem. This educational option was directly derived from Tanzania’s low economic base. According to him, Tanzania, as a poor country, could not afford to expand secondary education: “[Secondary education] is not the right of all Tanzanians as Primary Education is” (Nyerere, 1984: 153). This statement, pronounced in 1984, clearly echoed an earlier declaration in 1967: “We cannot solve the problem of primary school leavers by increasing the number of secondary school places” (URT, 1967a: 78). In 1988, in the face of the expansion of government’s programme for secondary education, Nyerere’s tone became imbued with anger:

“these [opening new public and private secondary schools] are not plans for teaching but for cheating (…) What will it benefit a child if he or she goes from a poor primary school to an even poorer secondary school, without facilities or even an adequate number of teachers? What we are doing is upgrading primary education for a few, and then pretending that it is Secondary Education. (…) Something which is secondary education only in name is a deception of an innocent child as well as being useless as a preparation for future service to the community. We are training for frustration and alienation” (Nyerere, 1988 in Lema et al, 2006: 184).

  • 1 The author is grateful to the research centre REPOA for hosting her during fieldwork.
  • 2 The term ‘elite’ is here defined following Reis and Moore (2005: 2) as “the very small number of pe (...)
  • 3 The author is very much indebted to the editors of two volumes of collections of Nyerere’s essays a (...)

3A couple of decades later, ward secondary schools came to materialise, on a large scale, Nyerere’s ominous words. These are some of the labels used by my informants to describe the ward secondary schools: ‘resort camps’, ‘advanced nursery schools’, ‘day care centres for grownup children’, ‘garbage in, garbage out’, ‘in ward secondary schools, the product is nearly zero’. In a context where Nyerere remains a worshiped figure and a mandatory reference in political and policy-making spheres, how could a policy be enacted that so profoundly contradicts Nyerere’s teaching? This chapter provides elements of response through an exploration of elites’ narratives. It largely draws upon the notion of “public rhetorical common places” as defined by Patrick T. Jackson, that is, discursive resources “that can be utilized so as to render a given policy acceptable”. Their availability is “an indispensable part of the process of public policy-making” (Jackson, 2006: ix). The analysis is based upon about 150 qualitative interviews conducted with members of the elite during a fieldwork conducted in 2011-2012 in Dar es Salaam and in Lushoto district.1 The systematic analysis of elites’ narratives2 allows bringing into light these public rhetorical commonplaces mobilised to legitimise the ward secondary schools policy. Edward Lowassa, Prime Minister between 2006 and 2010, and President Kikwete’s longtime close political ally, played a critical role in the decision-making process. The label ‘Lowassa schools’, coined by the press and used by few respondents, attests to a hardly uncontested paternity. However, the ward schools policy would not have occurred without a process of legitimation profoundly rooted into the country’s specific historical process and ideology. Without the mobilization of these public rhetorical commonplaces, it is our contention, the reconfiguration of the post-independence educational settlement provoked by the ward secondary schools would not have been possible. Among these discursive resources, Nyerere’s legacy, his educational ideas and practice of power have occupied a prominent position. The legitimation of the ward secondary schools policy, as an example of hybrid ideological construct, involved a re-articulation of the historical educational philosophy developed by Nyerere intertwined with the global neoliberal education discourse. This chapter argues that this recourse to Nyerere’s legacy to legitimate a policy which is in blatant contradiction with his actual thinking was also made possible by contradictions in Nyerere’s own discourse.3

4The first section explores the significance of secondary education within the post-independence educational settlement and points out the contestation that Nyerere’s vision for secondary education underwent. The second section deconstructs the egalitarian motivation that supposedly inspired the promoters of the 2006 policy. The third section argues that, behind imagined requirements of the global knowledge economy, conflated with the ambiguities of Nyerere’s modernisation philosophy, the ward secondary schools, more than places of learning, constitute devices for the domestication of the poor youth.

Julius Nyerere and Secondary Education, an Enduring but Contested Educational Settlement

Secondary education and the post-independence educational settlement: an elitist education in a socialist nation

5A specific educational settlement was forged during the Ujamaa period, within which secondary education occupied a specific position. The notion of ‘education settlement’ is forged from the concept of ‘political settlement’ commonly used in historical political economy. This concept refers to “the balance or distribution of power between contending social groups and social classes on which any state is based” (Di John and Putzel, 2009: 4). More precisely, Khan (2010: 20) defines a political settlement as a description of how a society solves the problem of violence and achieves a minimum level of political stability and economic performance for it to operate as a society. Following Melling who stressed that “social policies of the state formed part of a wider political settlement at key moments of development” (1991, quoted in Di John and Putzel, 2009: 4), the conditions of distribution of educational rights and entitlements across social groups can be considered as part and parcel of this political settlement. An educational settlement corresponds to a specific organisation of the access/quality/ equity nexus, traditionally central to educational policy-making. The ward secondary schools policy has led to a profound reconfiguration of this nexus at secondary level: it has entailed a shift from elitist, merit-based, quality secondary education towards mass and poor quality secondary education. The patterns of educational enrolments at secondary level displayed in graphs 1 and 2 vividly illustrate the historical rupture provoked by the ward secondary schools policy. Its significance cannot be understood without a description of the post-independence educational settlement and of its meaning within Ujamaa broader political project.

Graph 1: Enrolment in secondary education (Government - Non Government) 1961-2010 Enrolment

Graph 1: Enrolment in secondary education (Government - Non Government) 1961-2010 Enrolment

Source: URT-MoEVT (2011)

Graph 2: Transition Rate From Primary to Secondary Education (Government and Non- Government)

Graph 2: Transition Rate From Primary to Secondary Education (Government and Non- Government)

Source: URT-MoEVT (2011)

6In 1967, with the Arusha Declaration, Education for Self Reliance was put at the heart of the Ujamaa development philosophy: education was understood as the fundamental instrument for a radical social transformation (Samoff and Sumra, 1994). The 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania guaranteed the right to education for all citizens “up to the highest level according to his merits and ability”; it asserted that the “Government was made liable for creating the conditions for realisation of this right”. But during Ujamaa, primary education and literacy programmes were regarded as the chief instruments for social equalisation through education. According to Nyerere, “Primary education is to the education of our nation what Agriculture is to the economy – the pivot on which everything else turns. It is not called Primary education for nothing; it is the education everyone has” (Nyerere, 1984: 150). Primary education was conceived as an end in itself: it was to prepare children to their role within the community rather than to give them an automatic entry ticket to upper levels of education. Secondary education was deliberately conceived as an education reserved for few students but delivered on a free basis. For decades, access to secondary education was restricted to a small minority. Between 1966 and 1981, primary education enrolment multiplied by six and the literacy rate grew from 20 % to 90 %; in 1977 the primary gross enrolment ratio reached 97 %. In the same period, the transition rate from primary to lower secondary education fell from 35 % in 1962 to 2.6 % in 1981: “Tanzanian children (had) among the lowest probability of attending secondary school of all children in the developing world” (Lassibille et al, 2000: 4).

7As pointed out in the introduction, the main rationale for a distorted educational pyramid – broad base and tiny summit – lay in Tanzania’s narrow economic base. “The poverty of Tanzania does not allow for the kind of expenditure which would be necessary for such universal services [post primary education], however we would like them. Priorities have to be worked out and strictly adhered to” (Nyerere, 1971: 110). The intrinsic contradiction between a right-based, egalitarian discourse on education and this restriction of the right to upper levels of education to few privileged youth was pointed out by Nyerere himself: “Publicly provided ‘education for education’s sake’ must be general education for the masses. Further education for a selected few must be education for service to the many. There can be no other justification for taxing the many to give education to only few” (URT, 1967a: 79). Secondary education expansion was only legitimate in relation to its service to primary education and the rest of the economy, “in providing a reservoir from which we can recruit teachers, agriculturalists, health workers, engineers, and so on. We have no other justification for providing secondary school education”. During Ujamaa, the prevailing manpower policy derived the number of seats available in government secondary schools and university from the projected needs of the economy.

  • 4 The colonial power promoted an economic specialisation of Tanganyika’s territory between cash crops (...)

8Within a self-identified socialist regime aimed at reversing the colonial legacy, such blatant built-in elitism in the education system needed to be legitimised. The educational settlement called indeed for an ideological apparatus and organisational measures to make it acceptable to the vast majority barred from a resource critical to access white collar jobs, power and wealth. First of all, a quota system attributed a specific number of seats in public secondary schools to each region and to girls. In parallel, legal restrictions put on the expansion of private schools was meant to contain the distorted educational patterns inherited at independence (Samoff, 1979a; Buchert, 1994).4 Secondary schools also played a critical role in the process of the “reciprocal assimilation of elites” (Bayart, 1993): secondary education contributed to forming an ‘esprit de corps’ among the elite conducive to the integration of different, emerging and already established, segments of the elite. The fact that Tanzanian students attended secondary schools outside their region of origin forged within the elite a sense of national belonging that transcended tribal identities. This social blending process was a critical function that Nyerere attached to secondary schools. The implementation of Education for Self Reliance also implied critical changes in the curriculum aimed at inculcating students with a sense of serving the public and at preparing them to their role as drivers of rural development. Work had to become integral part of education and the secondary education curriculum to be ‘vocationalised’ so as to make it relevant to students’ future life in the community. The continuity between the colonial education system and Education for Self Reliance – the philosophy and its practice – has already been pinpointed (Coulson, 1982; Mbilinyi, 1979). What has less been emphasized, however, is how much these mechanisms, working against the idea of wealth or tribal belonging as the origin of individual advancement, inscribed meritocracy at the heart of secondary education and therefore social promotion.

A contested educational settlement

  • 5 For instance a forceful denial of the characterisation of Nyerere’s secondary education policy as r (...)

9In contemporary Tanzania, Nyerere has increasingly become the object of unanimous praise. Most informants, when questioned about the evident contradiction between Nyerere’s educational options and the ward secondary schools policy, dismissed this inconsistency as spurious. This refutation took various rhetorical forms.5 These performative claims of full adherence to Nyerere’s legacy seemed essential to guarantee the legitimacy of the ward secondary schools policy, as if mere hints of decision-makers’ possible betrayal of Nyerere could dangerously shake the foundation of the current socio-political order. Nyerere’s spectre haunts Tanzania’s political and policy-making arenas; references to the Father of the Nation constitute an imperative for any public leaders’ speech. However, in a same movement, within policy-making circles, Nyerere’s material voice on the significance of secondary education for Tanzania is being silenced, confined to the unspoken.

10Besides, these façade of unanimity and claims of absolute fidelity obscure the intense contestation that Nyerere’s educational options were subject to, both during his time in power and after his resignation as President. Indeed, despite its enduring nature, the historical education settlement did not remain unchallenged. Samoff (1979b) showed, in particular, how the petty bourgeoisie in the Kilimanjaro region developed strategies to reinforce their social and political position inherited from the colonial period through a locally driven and funded secondary school expansion in contradiction with the national education agenda. The government itself implemented with flexibility its own policy on private education to accommodate the ‘social demand’. The vocationalisation of the curriculum, at least as it was implemented through manual activities or cultivation of the shamba (school field), was resented by parents and conceived as a continuity of the colonial education system that refuted academic education for Africans (Buchert, 1994; Okoko, 1987).

  • 6 Interview with a Dar es Salaam-based foreign economist, major aid agency.
  • 7 This policy was openly at odds with the Education for Self Reliance socialist ethos but in 2012 it (...)

11The post-independence educational settlement was also subject to stern international critics. A 1990 famous World Bank comparative study of educational achievements in Kenya and Tanzania (Knight and Sabot, 1990) incriminated Nyerere’s Education for Self-Reliance policy and especially the restrictions put on private secondary schools. Despite its methodological flaws and its denial of the actual financial constraints experienced by Tanzania’s education system (Samoff, 1992), the 1990 document still influences aid agencies’ economists today in Dar es Salaam. One of them referred to this “amazing study by Knight and Sabot” and implicitly characterised the Education for Self Reliance as an anti-egalitarian and obscurantist policy: he used the motto “don’t educate anybody” to qualify the former ‘Tanzanian way’ in education.6 The 1995 Education and Training Policy offers another illustration of the international disapproval of the secondary education configuration inherited from Ujamaa7. This policy document, largely drafted under donors’ influence, constituted a clear formalisation of the neoliberal turn of the mid-1980s on cost-sharing measures and promotion of private sector. It incorporated a fundamental attack against one core element of the historical settlement over secondary education: it planned the end of the quota system on geographical origin and gender (URT-MoEC, 1995: 21). Since the private sector was now allowed to thrive, the quota system, portrayed as intrinsically unfair and inefficient, lost its relevance. The notion of ‘merit’, understood in relation to collective and historically constructed inequalities, was replaced by ‘merit’ viewed through an individualistic lens, in relation to ‘natural’ aptitudes, independent from the social origin and that the society needed to nurture: the government’s role was to support the ‘deserving ones’.

  • 8 Speech by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, on inaugurating (...)
  • 9 Despite catastrophic form 4 examination results from 2010 to 2012, Lowassa has continuously boasted (...)

12The 1995 Education and Training Policy also identified the construction of one secondary school in each ward as a key educational strategy for the country. The CCM Election Manifesto of 2000 and 2005 reaffirmed the strategy; Edward Lowassa did not invent the policy. However, in his inaugural speech to the Parliament on 30th December 2005, newly elected President Kikwete did not mention at all the ward secondary schools. Instead he prescribed the creation of ‘Pan-Territorial Secondary Schools that will deliberately mix talented students from all corners of the country’8 with the view of strengthening national unity: this programmatic vision had more resonance with the Ujamaa meritocratic model of government secondary schools than with a model of community-driven mass secondary education. The coexistence of these two options provides an evident sign of frictions within the state: the question of the type of secondary education that the country required or could afford was a contested site for the elite. Electoral objectives were undoubtedly not foreign to E. Lowassa’s decision to launch the ward secondary school policy. This process cannot be analysed in disconnect with his well-known presidential ambitions and his personal efforts, on his route to the political summit, to assert his credentials as a statesman responsive to people’s needs9. Nevertheless, if Lowassa’s individual agency in leading the ward schools policy and his electoral strategy cannot be denied, they were also rooted in a broader, long-lasting intra-ruling class struggle.

13Nyerere himself was very much aware of the pressure exerted by some segments of the ruling class to expand secondary education. “I know that virtually all the pressure for educational expansion comes in the form of demand for more secondary schools (…). I’m saying that it is the job of the Party and the Government, and in particular the Ministry of Education to resist this pressure’ (Nyerere, 1984 in Lema and al, 2004: 153). In 1988, he vocally denounced public officials’ support to the expansion of public and private secondary schooling as subverting the Party’s programme: ‘many of these new Private Schools are the results of public collections supported by – or even initiated by – Party leaders and prominent figures! (…) No one has suggested that it is part of our Party’s Programme! (…) It would be a greater service to the people of Tanzania, to the children of Tanzania, and to education in Tanzania, if public collections were made and used for the upgrading of our primary schools. Our leaders should look again at their responsibilities to the mass of our people” (Nyerere, 1988: 184). In light of this vigorous admonition, addressed to ‘deviant’ leaders, one can grasp the magnitude of the actual rupture with Nyerere’s legacy that ward secondary schools embody.

14Next section pursues the investigation of elites’ mobilisation of Nyerere’s legacy in their legitimation of the ward secondary schools policy.

Ward Secondary Schools: An Egalitarian Policy?

The ‘social demand’ narrative

  • 10 This perception is not specific to Tanzania nor developing countries. In the case of the United Sta (...)

15One of elites’ dominant narratives to explain the secondary education expansion relates to Tanzanian leaders’ responsiveness to people’s ‘demand’ in a context of mass primary education. Tanzania indeed embarked into its Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP) in 2000. Largely supported by donors, it entailed the abolition of primary school fees and consequently propelled a surge in primary enrolment. In 2005-2006, the first cohort of PEDP students was about to complete their primary schooling. The two words ‘social demand’ came again and again in all interviews, across all categories of elite members. The discursive mobilisation of the ‘social demand’ argument points to a specific understanding of the role of the state as ‘servant of the people’. The state is seen as an entity committed to ensure the conditions of an equalization of social conditions.10 This ‘social demand’ narrative certainly reflects the interdependent nature of the relations between the ruling class and the rest of the society. As argued in Gray (2012), “part of the political legitimacy of the Party constructed under socialism was its commitment to equality” and even after the economic liberalisation elite’s political survival has continued to depend on their egalitarian credentials.

  • 11 Swahili, the national language, is the language of instruction at primary level.

16The pre-eminence, among the Tanzanian elite, of this idea of a ‘social demand’ for education, and specifically secondary education in the aftermath of PEDP enrolment success, should be analysed in conjunction with the existence of a profound disjunction between a powerful national imaginary invested in education that transcends social boundaries and the post-independence educational settlement that constructed secondary education as an education for the elite. Nyerere’s educational philosophy and policies lie at the heart of this disjuncture. Despite calls for a classless state, secondary education was constructed, under Ujamaa, as a key site of class formation. A direct link was set up between secondary education and access to white-collar jobs: entry qualification for specific training schemes (like those for agricultural extension workers, teachers and many types of technicians) was upgraded to Form IV (Coulson, 1982: 203). English, commonly conceived as an indispensable resource to access influence, power and wealth, was maintained as language of instruction for post-basic education levels, building up the distinctive social function of secondary education.11 Against Nyerere’s intent, secondary schools continued to be referred to as ‘Bwana Kubwa’ or ‘big man’ schools and primary school leavers who could not join secondary education continued to be labelled as ‘failed’.

  • 12 Curriculum developer, Tanzania Institute of Education.
  • 13 Official, Direction of Secondary Education, Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.
  • 14 Inaugural speech to the Parliament, Dodoma, 30 December 2005.

17Despite its undisputable elitist nature, Ujamaa secondary education model was still perceived in 2012 by those who benefited from it as a tool to serve an egalitarian development strategy. Many respondents of this research expressed their gratitude towards a system that made their own social advancement possible. “[Nyerere] thought of rural people, he thought of poor people. Some people like us couldn’t pay school fees. My father was very poor. But we were educated to university education”.12 One official of the Ministry of Education even refuted the word ‘elite’ to qualify government secondary education: “I don’t believe that secondary education was for the elite. I don’t. Not during Nyerere’s time… Even at that time, education was for all”.13 Here the word ‘elite’ is implicitly associated with wealth-based schooling in contradiction with the meritocratic feature of government secondary education that officially allowed every child to attend secondary school, irrespectively of his/her social extraction, and to climb the social ladder. This egalitarian ethos is embraced, at least rhetorically, at the highest levels of the Executive. For President Kikwete, “most of us here, of my generation, would never have gone to school and reached this far in life had it not been for the far-sightedness and good social policies of our Founding Father”.14

18Despite the pervasiveness of an egalitarian ethos within both the administrative apparatus and the state power, the modalities of funding and implementation of the ward secondary schools policy profoundly vitiated decision-makers’ egalitarian claims.

An enrolment expansion without budgetary expansion15

  • 15 The financial analysis in this part is by the author based on data from URT-MoEVT (2011).

19The high political priority given to secondary education in 2006 was not translated into budgetary terms and was not accompanied by a substantial expansion of the teaching force. Between 2003/04 and 2009/10, the secondary education budget remained quasi flat and its share within an expanding education budget went through a sturdy decline, from a pick of 18.2 % of the education budget in 2004/05 to its lowest level of 6.2 % in 2009/10 (graph 3). While enrolment in secondary schools (O and A levels) grew by 253 % between 2003 and 2008, the number of teachers only increased by 42 %.

Graph 3: Share of Sub - Sector Allocations in The Education Budget (in % 2002 / 03 - 2011/12)

Graph 3: Share of Sub - Sector Allocations in The Education Budget (in % 2002 / 03 - 2011/12)

Source: the author based on URT-MoEVT (2011: 165)

  • 16 These budgetary patterns were also largely influenced by aid agencies’ allocative choices in educat (...)

20The evolution of ‘unit costs’ illustrates, even more forcefully, the low budgetary priority granted to secondary education. Between 2002 and 2009, enrolment in public secondary schools (O and A levels) increased by 590 % but the secondary education spending unit decreased by about 70 % (graph 4). Over the 2002/03-2011/12 period, tertiary and higher education chiefly profited from changes in the pattern of sector resource allocation. During the pick years of the ward secondary schools policy, elites’ budgetary choices reflected an actual material commitment to higher education and a disregard for the financial requirements of quality secondary education for the mass.16

Graph 4: Spending Per Student in Primary and Secondary Education 2002 /03 - 2011/12

Graph 4: Spending Per Student in Primary and Secondary Education 2002 /03 - 2011/12

NB. Budget in constant prices computed via the GDP deflator, base year 2001. Due to data availability, by convention, the ‘primary education spending unit’ was computed using the enrolment in public primary public schools and the budget for ‘primary, non-formal, other education institutions and supporting services’.

Source: the author, based on enrolment and budget data from URT-MoEVT (2011)

  • 17 In 1990, according to calculations by Lewin (1996: 370), Tanzania had the second highest ratio (aft (...)
  • 18 Interview with education aid manager, major aid agency.

21These elites’ budgetary preferences stand in sharp contrast with patterns of education expenditures during Ujamaa. Indeed, the post-independence educational settlement had a financial dimension. The Education for Self-Reliance priority to primary and adult education was translated in budgetary terms: between 1966/67 and 1980/81, the share of primary and adult education in recurrent expenditures increased by 13 % and by 37 % in development expenditures. Over the same period, the share of secondary education in recurrent expenditures fell by 20 % and by 19 % in development expenditures (Buchert, 1994). This historical budgetary trade-off had a second facet: a high unit cost for secondary education. The state did not charge any school fee and covered lodging, transportation and food costs for all students attended public secondary schools. This exceptionally high unit cost17 was, according to Nyerere, the price of a quality secondary education. Achieving quality education was indeed intrinsic to Ujamaa secondary education model, as acknowledged by many respondents. Zitto Kabwe, a young opposition leader, stressed both the egalitarian virtues and the quality of the former public secondary education system: “I come from a very poor family. I went to public school and I got my first shoes in Form 1 and 2, when a neighbour gave them to me because he was pleased of my results. At that time, public schools were centres of excellence. All good teachers were teaching there. Both parents of rich and poor families had the opportunity to send their kids to school and get quality education”. This appreciation was shared by the international community: “Back to the 1980s and 1970s, Tanzania used to have a high quality secondary education. The paradigm then, under Nyerere, was to produce very good graduates but there was no concern about numbers”.18 Besides, Nyerere’s commitment to the developmental role of higher education (Nyerere, 1970 (2004)) did not entail a budgetary preference for this sub-sector. In 1995, in an address at the 25th anniversary of the University of Dar es Salaam, severely hit by the budgetary implications of the financial crisis, Nyerere implicitly enunciated his order of precedence for the education budget: “Within the education sector, a government cannot decide to close down primary and secondary schools so as to make money available for the University, because the latter needs qualified entrants as well as money (…) within the educational sector, it is not a forgone conclusion that the balance between primary, secondary, technical and tertiary expenditures should be immediately tilted towards Universities” (Nyerere, 1995: 200).

22In 2006-2007, the elite solved the fiscal conundrum posed by the ward secondary schools policy by transferring the burden to the poor.

Forced community contributions and ward secondary schools: a regressive tax on the poor

  • 19 Personal empirical investigation conducted in Lushoto district in March-April 2012, that included t (...)

23Right from the inception, which can be traced back to the 1995 Education and Training Policy, Tanzanian policy-makers envisioned the ward secondary schools policy within a locally-driven developmental perspective: “Urban, district, town, municipal, city councils and authorities, communities, NGO, individuals and public institutions shall be encouraged and given incentives to establish, own, manage and administer at least one secondary school in each ward (Kata) in their areas of jurisdiction” (URT-MoEC, 1995: 102). A specific ‘social contract’ underpinned the ward secondary schools policy enunciated by Prime Minister Lowassa: communities had to start the construction of schools then the state (government and districts) would cater for the roofing, cover for the biggest share of running costs through a Tsh 25,000 capitation grant and allocate an adequate number of teachers. However, the state did not honour its part of the contract: peasants and parents bore a large share of the costs of the reform. Not only communities built schools but they have also been paying a wide range of fees to cover schools’ running costs, including the salary of non-professional teachers.19 In exchange, their ‘return to investment’ took the form of a massive examination failure and the vanished hope for a brighter future for their children. Wards schools turned into fools’ game.

24‘Self-help’ ideology has tainted development policies in Tanzania since colonial times; it constituted a prominent feature of Ujamaa development strategy (Samoff, 1989: 6). Specifically in the education sector, Kilimanjaro region has provided the rest of the country with a successful model of educational advancement driven by local initiatives and funding schemes but underpinned by a specific economic base (Samoff, 1979b). The enduring presence of ‘self-help’ ingredients within Tanzanian development policies does not imply that self-help projects have been time and space invariant. Over the decades, the very meaning of the notion has been subject to inflexions, reflecting evolving relations between state power, society and local state brokers. Jennings (2007) underlined for instance the shift from an initial framing of the ‘self-help’ concept in terms of participation to the nation-building project in the early years of independence to the post-Arusha Declaration period when compulsory participation was to serve state’s control and management priorities. Nyerere’s discourse on community-driven secondary education reflected these contradictory and evolving meanings. He fully endorsed the idea of communities contributing to education expansion through their labour but rejected the idea of their monetisation: “Constantly asking parents to buy for this or pay for that is self-defeating; sooner or later they will stop sending their children to school because they cannot provide what it is asked for. Silver and gold they have none: what they do have is their labour. That they can often provide: labour to build a new classroom, or a teacher’s house, or to paint walls or repair a roof” (Nyerere, 1988: 183). He simultaneously stressed the fallacy of communities’ labour contribution when the state cannot provide for quality education basic inputs. “When talking about secondary school expansion, we are quick to say that the people will put up the buildings by their own efforts. But the buildings are less important. (…) The important things in education are the teachers, the books, and for science the laboratories” (Nyerere, 1984: 154). In that sense Nyerere did not embrace the process of reformulation of the ‘self-help’ ideology prompted by the economic liberalisation of the 1980s. In the context of Structural Adjustment Programmes, authorities’ call for communities’ contributions strongly reverberated International Financial Institutions’ promotion of cost-sharing measures to support the expansion of the education sector. Since the end of the 1990s, this convergent rhetoric has been reworked in a post-Washington consensus idiom largely appropriated by the Tanzanian elite: communities’ contributions are key to build up local ‘ownership’, promote people’s ‘participation and empowerment’ and strengthen public ‘accountability’, all ingredients of efficient ‘social services delivery’. But the empirical reality, in Lushoto, has been one of communities pressurised to financially support a central state’s policy as well as local politicians’ ambition and struggles. However, the plasticity of the ‘self-help’ notion allowed decisions-makers to pride themselves on their direct lineage with Nyerere’s developmental practice.

  • 20 Focus groups conducted with parents in Lushoto confirmed that the valuation of education cuts acros (...)

25Another feature of the ward schools policy implementation modality – the recourse to coercion – is equally difficult to reconcile with the irrepressible social demand narrative. Mbilinyi (1979: 225) argued that “both coercive/repressive and ideological apparatuses are relied upon to increase social control over the peasant labour force”. This applies to the ward secondary schools story. The two traditional ingredients of popular consent have indeed prompted communities’ adherence to the policy and to its financial ‘cost-sharing’ premise. Undeniably, the belief in the power of education as an engine for individual, family, community progress does not constitute elites’ specific attribute. Data from the 2006 Integrated Labour Force Survey confirms a broadly-shared social desire for education. To the question ‘If given a choice, what would you like to do?’, an overwhelming proportion of respondents replied: ‘going to school full time’:20

Graph 5: People’ preferred activities

Graph 5: People’ preferred activities

Source: URT-NBS (2006)

26However, state’s representatives at local level also resorted to coercion to gain the population’s adherence through fine or even imprisonment. Villagers who were unwilling to pay were forced to contribute through the uambozi practice – the forced requisition of households’ assets (cattle, furniture...). In that instance too, decision-makers could largely build their legitimacy from Nyerere’s own contradictions. This policy bears indeed great resemblance with historical centrally-driven policies, implemented in a heavy-handed fashion by the state. For instance, Nyerere, who started the villagisation process as a voluntary scheme, finally resorted to coercive measures and forced groupings in the face of thin actual outcomes (Hyden, 1980).

  • 21 This label covers a diversified situation (high-fee, highly selective private schools and low-cost (...)

27Thewardsecondaryschoolspolicyhasprovidedtheelitewithananswer to the financial conundrum posed by a narrow national fiscal space. But the state-society relation that made possible the implementation of the policy largely departs from an imagined benevolent state responding to a pressing ‘social demand’. And with these under-resourced, poor-performing secondary schools, a three-tier secondary education system has taken shape – private schools,21 old government schools still enjoying a selective entry system and community schools. Many informants explicitly interpreted this differentiated education system as the consolidation of a ‘class-system’ in Tanzania.

Ward Secondary Schools: Domestication of the Youth in the Time of the Knowledge Economy

  • 22 See also Brennan (2010) and Burgess (2010) for historical accounts of attempts by the socialist rul (...)
  • 23 Word borrowed from Burton (2007).

28A second dominant narrative mobilised to justify the ward secondary schools policy has been centred on the youth. It has intertwined two antagonist constructions of the category: the youth as a threat to the social order, and the youth as agents of modernisation whose skills will unlock the door of the global knowledge economy to Tanzania. Framing the ‘youth issue’ in such dialectical terms is not new. According to Burgess (Burgess, 2005: xviii), “the politics of generation after independence were at the same time inclusive and exclusive: the state recruited, celebrated and foregrounded the vitality of youth on the public stage. And yet the state excluded from its notions of citizenship images of youth that appeared to conflict with the nationalist imperative of building the nation”.22 With the ward secondary schools, this opposition between the ‘idlers’ to be ‘purged’23 and ‘the servants of the nation’, constant feature of Tanzanian ‘politics of generation’, is being rearticulated. This educational policy responded to social anxieties caused by the successful expansion of primary education between 2001 and 2006. A bulge of idle and disenfranchised primary leavers was about to threaten the society’s peace and harmony; their capture within a state institution would ensure their domestication, the discipline of their mind and body and the taming of their violent or deviant behaviours.

‘The youth roaming in the street’ or ‘the ticking bomb’: secondary education expansion to ascertain elders’ social order

  • 24 The expression is borrowed from Burton (2006).

29In 2012, the two phrases: ‘the youth roaming in the streets’ and the ‘youth ticking bomb’ were permanent references in newspapers, official speeches and Parliamentary debates. The idea of a ‘raw youth’,24 ‘half-cooked’ and half educated, came prominently in discourses. The growing pre-eminence of the ‘youth’ in public discourses in Tanzania predated 2011 uproars in the Middle East. In 2005-2006 indeed, Tanzanian authorities started to shift their concern from ‘children’ towards ‘the youth’, in an evident relation to secondary education expansion. Several policy options could have been envisaged to cater for the expected rise in primary education leavers – and are indeed present in the public debate: the gradual construction of new schools, an expansion focused on existing schools with additional boarding facilities or the prior-training of teachers. In most cases interviewed officials – even bureaucrats who acknowledged their scepticism about or disagreement with Prime Minister Lowassa’s choice – resorted to two related lexical fields to legitimise the policy and, implicitly, disqualify alternative policies: the ward secondary schools policy was a matter of emergency and the government had no choice. The ‘no alternative’ and ‘emergency’ rhetoric constitutes a classical feature of policy-making legitimation processes (Ball, 2012) and ‘youth in the streets’ was actually the only alternative envisioned by most officials. The word ‘street’ came again and again in interviews; a sort of catchphrase that seemed to embody elites’ deepest fear. The government had to build a dyke to contain the youth tidal wave that threatened to unfurl on the Tanzanian peaceful order, like a bomb.

30The ‘social order’ discourse has had a specific gender coordinate. Family planning considerations are indeed systematically mobilised to justify the ward secondary schools policy. As pointed out by a senior official within the Prime Minister Office-Regional Authorities and Local Government, “We’ve got a high birth rate in Tanzania due largely to early pregnancies. With secondary education, you diminish the number of young mothers and fathers. When they’ve finished secondary school (Form 4), they’re young adults, they can marry”. The last National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction (Mkukuta II) is also rather explicit on the ultimate goal of girls’ education: “Increased access to secondary education, especially for girls is expected to be one of the most effective measures to address issues of population dynamics, including reduction in fertility rate.” (URT-MoFEA, 2010: 64). The ward secondary schools policy is being framed as a birth control device.

31The very formulation of the ward schools policy – to build one secondary school in each ward –, very much different from a call for ‘secondary education for all’, implicitly posits an intrinsic relationship between education and population management. A formulation that puts the emphasis on the location of schools, within communities, tangles up welfarist considerations – the state bringing basic social services to the people – together with concerns over youth mobility. In a context of widespread social anxiety over the youth invading cities’ streets, the design of an education policy in spatial – rather than learning – terms cannot be interpreted as a coincidence: ward secondary schools should contribute to fix the ‘raw youth’ in rural areas and prevent their migration to cities. As put by a former Member of Parliament in an interview: “It allows to concentrate kids in one area rather than letting them smoking marijuana”. This policy formulation should be contrasted with old government secondary schools, mainly located in urban centres: their attendance would oblige students to quit the village and the farm to enter the urban world; ‘migration’ was, at that time, part and parcel of the secondary schooling experience.

  • 25 For instance, 2005 DFID’s Girls’ Education Strategy report, while recognising girls’ education as a (...)

32This general anxiety over the exuberant and threatening ‘youth body’ – the violent male body and the sexualised female body – strongly resonates with the current international discourse unleashed by the Arab spring. Aid agencies have flooded the world with reports on the ‘youth issue’. The 2013 World Development Report, entitled ‘Jobs’, drew the attention to the “621 million youth neither working nor studying” (p. 4), pointing that “in extreme cases a lack of job opportunities can contribute to violence or social unrest” (p. 6). The discursive concurrence has been underpinned by a lexical convergence: while the World Bank measures “rates of idleness among 15-24 years old” (World Bank, 2012: 6), the Tanzanian elite worry over the ‘idle youth’. Aid agencies’ strategic focus on girls’ education and women empowerment also display a desire of domesticating girls’ sexuality and remains firmly embedded within a patriarchal, essentialist perspective on girls.25

  • 26 According to United Nations’ population projections, the percentage of people living in urban areas (...)
  • 27 Even if impressionistic evidence seem to corroborate the perception of rising crime rates in Dar es (...)

33Girls’ actual educational challenges and more generally women’s subaltern social status correspond to a material reality. The uncertain prospects for Tanzanian girls are evidenced by current statistics: ‘overall, 23 % of women age 15-19 are pregnant or already have children’ and ‘young women with no education are more than 8 times as likely to have begun childbearing than women with secondary or higher education (52 % versus 6 %) (URT-NBS, 2010: 8). And if gender parity in access to primary education has been achieved, gender disparities grow at secondary and higher education levels and are also substantial in performances (URT-MoEVT, 2011). Current data on demographic and urbanisation trends have also provided a fertile soil for growing social anxieties over the ‘idle youth’. Tanzania has one of the highest birth rates in the world, 65 % of the Tanzanian population is under age 24 and Tanzanians aged between 15 and 24 represent 17 % of the country’s population (URT NBS 2010). The demographic growth is being accompanied by a rapid urbanisation process.26 These demographic trends go along with a growing feeling of insecurity among the urban elite: press articles and official statements reflect the centrality of the crime issue within today’s public debates.27

34The apparent novelty of the nexus ‘idle youth / urbanisation / crime’, contemporary to a ‘primary school leavers crisis’ driven by specific demographics and by the success of a specific educational programme (PEDP), conceals its long genealogy that can be traced into colonial and post-independence administrative discourses and practices. While in the mid-1950s, the colonial administration was already distressed by the ‘primary school leavers’ crisis’ (Burton 2006), in 1967, Nyerere evoked the ‘so-called problem of primary school leavers’ that Education for Self Reliance was meant to address. Burton (2005) showed how the colonial administration lived in a constant fear of being submerged by ‘raw’ youth escaping rural areas. But, ‘independence from colonial rule did not resolve debates and questions about the status of young people’ (Burgess, 2005: xviii). Nyerere’s discourse and politics revealed a distinctive ambivalence towards the youth (Ivaska, 2005) that fuelled an official rhetoric by which ‘youth were supposed to serve as the indebted servants of a new order, but stood accused of some of its most flagrant transgressions’ (Burgess, 2005: xviii). He constantly insisted on the pivotal role of the youth in the development process but this spearheading role was reserved to a particular category of youth, hard-working and committed to rural development (Ivaska, 2005). In contrast, young underemployed in the cities, the urban ‘idlers’, were castigated as internal enemies (Brennan, 2006). Their idleness was equated to mere betrayal of the socialist nation work ethics. In the Arusha Declaration, ‘laziness, drunkenness and idleness’ were cast as serious sins ‘to be ashamed of ‘ and ‘to loiter in towns or villages without doing work’ were depicted as unacceptable exploitive behaviour (URT, 1967b).

  • 28 Interview with Member of Parliament, member of the Social Affairs Committee.
  • 29 This obsession with family planning and sexuality echoes colonial states’ ‘domesticating impulse’ r (...)

35Nyerere’s discourse on women exhibited similar ambiguities. His unabated commitment to universal primary education recovered an equal commitment towards girls’ education: “In Africa if every child does not go to school those to be left out will be mostly the girls” (Nyerere, 1997: 211). The quota system to enter government secondary schools was used to address gender educational disparities. However, the Arusha Declaration drew a distinction between the frivolous and lazy urban (educated) woman and the industrious woman in the village: “Women who live in the villages work harder than anybody else in Tanzania. But the men who live in villages (and some of the women in towns) are on leave for half of their life... The energies of the millions of men in the villages and thousands of women in the towns (…) are at present wasted in gossip, dancing and drinking”. Under Ujamaa, Brennan (2006: 404) argues, ‘young unmarried women living in towns – alongside their male counterparts – formed major focal points of postcolonial nationalist anxiety’. Schoolgirls were similarly constructed as licentious beings, ‘portrayed as unapologetically pleasure-seeking group that refused to observe public decorum and gendered or generational hierarchies of authority’ (Ivaska, 2007: 227). This construction found a perfect echo in 2012 parliamentary debates when the Committee for Social Affairs rebuffed the Ministry of Education’s proposal to end pregnant girls’ expulsion from schools on the ground that this proposed change to the 1995 Education and Training Policy would encourage girls’ promiscuous behaviour28. Schoolgirls’ sexualised body has remained both a site of fixation of social anxieties and a contested domain within the ruling class.29

36Finally, the dimension of space management embedded in the ward school policy also strongly resonates with ambiguities of colonial and post-colonial administrative practices. In attempts to control Africans’ mobility, the colonial administration devised coercive measures (pass laws, resident permit, heavy taxation of ‘informal’ economy and repatriation schemes) but also considered compulsory education and the extension of the school system (Burton, 2005: 97). Similarly, under Ujamaa, the main argument to justify the villagisation process was centred on the provision of social services (Coulson, 1982: 256-57). But controlling patterns of space occupation through the construction of (primary) schools (and health dispensaries etc.) or the localisation of new settlements around existing social services like schools were certainly at the heart of this major social engineering project.

Ward secondary schools, providing the youth with skills for the knowledge economy?

  • 30 The term is borrowed from Ball (2012) and refers to a “way of reasoning that seems to have no struc (...)
  • 31 The association between secondary schooling and modernity is not reserved to the elite.
    Stambach (20 (...)

37Tanzania has not been spared by ‘planetspeak discourses’:30 the modernisation philosophy that underpinned developmental strategies and education policies, both under colonial power and socialist regime, is today being reworked in the ‘globalisation’ and ‘knowledge economy’ idiom. The justification of secondary education expansion has been directly fuelled by elites’ anxiety of being left outside this contemporary modernisation movement.31 Education is seen as one major instrument to avoid Tanzania a position on the fringes of the global world. The education system has to mould a population able to cope with this highly unstable, ever-changing, technology-driven globalisation. The ‘globalisation-education’ narrative is being framed along three inescapable imperatives: marketable skills, science and English. The lack of scientific knowledge jeopardises Tanzania’s chance to insert into the global economy and benefit from it. Information and communication being consubstantial to the knowledge economy model, Tanzanian elites’ desire of globalisation has crystallised into a quest for ‘English’ mastery. Finally, economic development would be blocked by a fundamental skills mismatch, rooted in an irrelevant and inefficient education system. Secondary education and vocational training need to impart youth with the entrepreneurial skills required by the labour market.

38The saliency of skills, vocational training, sciences and English in elite discourses over secondary education has certainly mirrored donors’ education agenda. For instance, World Bank Secondary Education Development Programme II (2010-2014) displays a strong ‘science’ emphasis, with a focus on laboratories, science textbooks and teaching practices in maths, sciences and language. In his opening statement to the 2011 Education Sector Review, the Canadian High Commissioner to Tanzania underlined the challenge of ‘providing these young people with marketable skills’ and the ‘increased recognition of the importance of expanding post-secondary education, particularly Technical and Vocational Education and Training’. While donors shape their policies over the language of instruction in terms of scarcity of competent English teachers and lack of teaching and learning materials, they also invoked the globalisation imperative to dismiss the possibility of a radical policy shift as regards the language of instruction, in a telling echo with Tanzanian proponents of English as the language of instruction. Tanzanian elites’ romanticised view of the informal sector resonates with donors’ entrepreneurship programmes and renewed emphasis on skills and vocational training.

  • 32 Interview with official, Planning Commission.
  • 33 A curriculum developer in the Tanzanian Institute for Education wondered: ‘What is the origin of co (...)

39This converging comprehension of quality education as science/ English/skills cannot be interpreted as the mere outcome of an externally driven, imposed global agenda. In that instance too, Nyerere’s educational legacy forms a constitutive ingredient of the ideological construct. Contemporary discourses on vocational training and skills are systematically underpinned by explicit or implicit references to Ujamaa education philosophy and practices. In 2012, the Planning Commission explained its current initiative to draft a national skill development strategy as an attempt to revive the logics underlying manpower surveys during Ujamaa.32 Similarly, the introduction of a competence-based curriculum was interpreted as Nyerere’s direct progeny.33 The ‘self-reliance’ rhetoric is also systematically summoned in support to elites’ glorification of self-employment in the informal sector as the venue for youth success and national economic development.

40The argument here is not to deny the challenges faced by Tanzanian students in maths, sciences and English or to refute Tanzanian elites’ desire to see their country occupy a position at the core of the global economy. But authorities’ and donors’ policy focus on maths, sciences and English, discursively tied to knowledge-economy inevitabilities, is problematic in many instances. Democratic deliberations, which would challenge this bounded and utilitarian definition of ‘quality education’, are potentially discredited on the ground of globalisation requirements. A high-rank official wondered: ‘What about the poets, the art, the cinema? We need diversity. We need all competences besides maths and physics and science, social sciences, art. We need to bring diversity in our society. A focus on math and science is of course easier to justify’. Besides, claims over the irresistible demands of globalisation reinforce unequal dynamics within the education system. For instance, most students transit from primary schools, where Swahili is the language of instruction, to ward secondary schools with a very poor proficiency in English; there they hardly encounter proficient English teachers. At the same time, through the mushrooming of English-medium private primary schools, wealthy parents build their children’s education premium from the (pre) primary level; they then cumulatively benefit from upper education levels. At university level, in line with the national priority given to sciences, students in sciences are eligible for a 100 % loan, without mean-testing; but given that ward secondary schools have experienced a severe lack of science teachers and laboratories, most of the students who can continue sciences at higher level logically come from privileged schools, well-resourced in science teachers and equipment. In brief, “you make rich kids learn sciences” (Member of Parliament).

  • 34 Rigorous statistics on the labour market are scant. In enterprise surveys, businessmen do not ident (...)
  • 35 “Our education has to provide skills to our children, young people, and adults. It also has to help (...)

41While the ‘education-knowledge economy’ narrative has been based on fuzzy empirical evidence,34 claims over its direct lineage with the Father of the Nation contribute to its entrenchment and to the legitimation of the mechanisms of social reproduction it conceals. Indeed, Nyerere posited the transmission of skills and attitudes as the primary purpose of the Education for Self Reliance35. He also expressed a constant concern over the need to enhance scientific and technical knowledge in Tanzania, as a critical instrument for the country’s economic development and international independence: “The realistic prospects for every country’s development, even its chances of defending (or raining) its independent sovereignty within an increasingly interdependent world will depend heavily upon its wealth in knowledge– particularly science-based knowledge” (Nyerere, 1995 in Lema and al, 2006: 199). Yet contemporary invocations of the self-reliance ideology operate a displacement of its meaning by which it becomes construed through an individualistic lens. Self-reliance is no longer a collective endeavour, it is no longer the responsibility of the entire society, and the role of the government is just to create an enabling environment for the respectable and industrious youth in order to equip them with the entrepreneurial skills that would enable them to be self-employed. At the same time, this rosy ‘self-employment’ tale conceals precarious working conditions stemming from unregulated relations of employment and earnings of bare subsistence level: people engaged in this segment of the labour market tend to remain trapped within its realm (Rizzo, 2011).

  • 36 ‘I want to be quite sure that our educational institutions are not going to end up as factories tur (...)
  • 37 This contradiction was already pointed out in Mbilinyi (2006).

42Nyerere’s own contradictions offered a fertile ground for this displacement of meaning and for the naturalisation of the knowledge economy predicaments in the Tanzanian soil. Nyerere’s own ambiguities over English – he was a fierce advocate of Swahili as the key ingredient of nation building but also translator of Shakespeare into Swahili – contributed to shape the elites’ enduring belief in English as a construction site of the modern African self. Nyerere’s educational philosophy also weaved together two discordant conceptions of education. On one hand, he forcefully promoted an emancipatory education geared towards individual and collective transformation - an education that would liberate human beings from their enslavement to the productive world.36 On the other hand, both his philosophy and development practices firmly tied education to economic production37. The vocationalisation of the secondary education curriculum testified of his firm belief in the necessity to reconfigure the education-labour nexus in relation to the actual conditions of production in Tanzania. His manpower policy also set up a strict relationship between secondary education certificate and entry in the formal labour market. Blurring the boundaries between education and work was a core tenet of his educational thinking, as clearly stated in the following assertion: “What we are aiming at is converting our schools into economics communities as well as educational communities” (URT, 1967a: 91).

  • 38 For instance a high rank government official underlined the political sensitivity of the subject am (...)

43Nyerere’s attempt to curb people’s expectations for formal secondary and higher education was defeated by a widespread social disinclination for vocational education constructed as a vehicle of racial and social differentiation during the colonisation (Okoko, 1987: 63-68). For Nyerere, this unresolved tension between technical and academic education constituted a major setback for the country’s development: “Our failure to emphasize science teaching, of all kinds and at all levels, and especially our indifference to technical and vocational training is the greatest failure of our educational system” (Nyerere, 1988: 179). At the end of his life, Nyerere endorsed the full correspondence between Education for Self-Reliance and the ‘employability’ rhetoric: “Their education must prepare them [the young people] to be Self-Reliant and self-employed if they cannot secure (…) paid employment. Perhaps in the language of today, we should say that education should help the young to develop a spirit of private enterprise’ (Nyerere, 1998: 164). Contemporary discourses around the ward secondary schools testify that the general/vocational education nexus remains a highly contested domain in society at large, among educationists and within the ruling class.38

44The discursive weaving of the employability, self-reliance and criminalisation of the youth rhetoric overshadows what is really at stake behind the valuation of vocational training by a segment of the domestic elite and by international aid agencies: the legitimation, in a context reconfigured by mass general secondary education, of the ‘reproduction of the division between manual and intellectual labour’ which is ‘at the very heart of the production process and in society as a whole’ (Poulantzas, 1978: 60). The recourse to a generic ‘youth’ category, if it allows to draw the attention on existing generational tensions, also eclipses the social differentiation that characterised the young population: despite an increased access to general education, the horizon of the poor youth remains manual work.

Conclusion

45Because education policy choices are deeply rooted in national ideology, in the country’s political economy trajectory and its economic basis, a systematic exploration of elites’ narratives, their genealogy and their entanglement with global discourses, provides a fecund method to understand educational policy-making. The low-cost and poor performing ward secondary schools are the last offshoot of a process of remodelling of the nation’s educational settlement initiated by the economic liberalisation of the 1980s. The ward secondary schools policy illustrates what Block called the “continuing tensions in a government programme between its integrative intent and its role in the accumulation process” (1977: 23): in a new context of quasiuniversal primary education coupled with quality private education available for the wealthy, under-resourced ward secondary schools can be interpreted as a renewed educational settlement intended to resolve the structural tension inherent to education systems over the world. This might help explain Tanzanian elites’ high level of tolerance towards massive exam failures at form four examination: one might argue that, from the elite point of view, the ward secondary schools policy, far from being a failure, was adapted to the actual conditions of production in Tanzania today – agrarian economy, capital intensive industrialisation, low-skilled service activities in the informal sector – and was pursuing an appropriate goal: a domesticated youth.

46The profound resonance between elite narratives on the ward secondary schools, colonial power’s policy and rhetoric and contemporary international discourses reveals the structural problem faced by the modern capitalist state over the social integration of the youth. In a context of essential scarcity of jobs, “a school system that kept students locked in an extended state of youth” (Stambach, 2000: 143) provides a temporary solution to the youth containment problem. The globalisation imperative disguises the inaptitude of the (domestic and international) ruling class to conjure up the contradiction between school expansion and the paucity of skilled jobs and to chart out a labourintensive developmental path for Tanzania, and sub-Saharan Africa in general (Amsden, 2012: 114). In that context, constant invocations of Nyerere’s mythic figure of infallible and uncontested leader committed to an equal society and the simultaneous muting of his actual voice and contradictions provide a thick smoke-screen to powerful mechanisms of social reproduction within the Tanzanian society.

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Notes

1 The author is grateful to the research centre REPOA for hosting her during fieldwork.

2 The term ‘elite’ is here defined following Reis and Moore (2005: 2) as “the very small number of people who control the key material, symbolic and political resources within a country”. This generic definition can be supplemented by Hossain and Moore’s delineation of national elites as “the people who make or shape the main political and economic decisions: ministers and legislators; owners and controllers of TV and radio stations and major business enterprises and activities; large property owners; upper-level public servants; senior members of the armed forced, police and intelligence services; editors of major newspapers; publicly prominent intellectuals, lawyers and doctors; and – more variably – influential socialites and heads of large trade unions, religious establishments and movements, universities and development NGOs…” (2002: 1).

3 The author is very much indebted to the editors of two volumes of collections of Nyerere’s essays and speeches on education: Elieshi Lema, Marjorie Mbilinyi, Rakesh Rajani and Issa Omari. Their books were key to develop the author’s understanding of Nyerere’s educational philosophy.

4 The colonial power promoted an economic specialisation of Tanganyika’s territory between cash crops areas, food crops zones and labour force basins in a context of a rising racial segmentation, Indians and Europeans consolidating their control over the formal modern sector. The development of the education system was closely tied up to this economic strategy and organised to fulfil the needs of the emerging capitalist group. Historically, schools – governmental and missionary – were implanted in cash-crop areas, zones of European settlement, trade hubs or industrialising areas. The education system was also racially differentiated with a segment delivering an academic and elitist education to Indians and Europeans, mainly in government schools. The second segment dedicated to Africans would deliver a mass education, mainly in missionary and ‘bush’ schools led by indigenous local authorities.

5 For instance a forceful denial of the characterisation of Nyerere’s secondary education policy as restrictive or its reframing in positive terms.

6 Interview with a Dar es Salaam-based foreign economist, major aid agency.

7 This policy was openly at odds with the Education for Self Reliance socialist ethos but in 2012 it was still considered by most Tanzanian actors in the education sector – Ministry officials but also members of the civil society – as a truly home-grown policy. This paradoxical sense of ‘ownership’ can be explained by a process, among the domestic elite, of internalization of donors’ increasingly influential agenda after the mid-1980s and by the fact that the drafting process was very inclusive and participatory.

8 Speech by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, on inaugurating the fourth phase Parliament of Tanzania, Parliament buildings, Dodoma, 30 December 2005.

9 Despite catastrophic form 4 examination results from 2010 to 2012, Lowassa has continuously boasted his secondary education achievements to boost his political profile. His supporters also proclaim their champion’s political superiority by drawing on the ward secondary school story. See for instance, ‘Lowassa who is remembered for his influence in Ward Schools program’ In2EastAfrica, 17 August 2012; ‘Records have it that it was Lowassa’s zeal and commitment to construct secondary schools in every ward’ Vox Media, 4 July 2011.

10 This perception is not specific to Tanzania nor developing countries. In the case of the United States, republican ‘egalitarian virtues’ propelled the ‘high school movement’ at the beginning of the 20th century (Goldin, 2001, 1997).

11 Swahili, the national language, is the language of instruction at primary level.

12 Curriculum developer, Tanzania Institute of Education.

13 Official, Direction of Secondary Education, Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.

14 Inaugural speech to the Parliament, Dodoma, 30 December 2005.

15 The financial analysis in this part is by the author based on data from URT-MoEVT (2011).

16 These budgetary patterns were also largely influenced by aid agencies’ allocative choices in education: between FY 2004/05 and FY 2009/10, donors’ main sector of investment remained primary education. Over the period, this level absorbed between 77 % and 50 % of total education external assistance (author’s own calculations based on budget books and donors’ disbursements reports). The World Bank was the unique important international organisation that resolutely invested in secondary education.

17 In 1990, according to calculations by Lewin (1996: 370), Tanzania had the second highest ratio (after Uganda) of secondary to primary unit costs, among 62 countries with GNP per capita below US$5,000: the country spent 17.5 more on secondary students than on primary pupils.

18 Interview with education aid manager, major aid agency.

19 Personal empirical investigation conducted in Lushoto district in March-April 2012, that included the visit of 25 secondary schools, confirmed that parents’ contributions constitute the main resource of schools to take charge of running expenses, including the hiring of contractual form 6 leavers to make up for the shortage of teachers.

20 Focus groups conducted with parents in Lushoto confirmed that the valuation of education cuts across social classes.

21 This label covers a diversified situation (high-fee, highly selective private schools and low-cost private schools not very dissimilar from ward secondary schools).

22 See also Brennan (2010) and Burgess (2010) for historical accounts of attempts by the socialist ruling power to incorporate ‘idle and dangerous’ youth into the state apparatus (TANU youth league in Dar es Salaam or youth labour camps in Zanzibar) to domesticate their perceived violence.

23 Word borrowed from Burton (2007).

24 The expression is borrowed from Burton (2006).

25 For instance, 2005 DFID’s Girls’ Education Strategy report, while recognising girls’ education as a right, contains an evident assignment of girls to their traditional reproductive function within the community: ‘educating girls helps to make communities and societies healthier, wealthier and safer, and can also help to reduce child deaths, improve maternal health and tackle the spread of HIV and AIDS’ (DFID, 2005: 1).

26 According to United Nations’ population projections, the percentage of people living in urban areas in Tanzania is likely to grow from 24 % in 2005 to 38 % in 2030, a progression more than twice the rate of the population as a whole. By 2030, more than 25 million Tanzanians will be living in urban areas with Dar es Salaam among the ten fastest growing African cities between 2010-2020 (UN Habitat, 2010: 54).

27 Even if impressionistic evidence seem to corroborate the perception of rising crime rates in Dar es Salam and other Tanzanian cities, we will not question here the extent to which this social feeling corresponds to an actual social phenomenon.

28 Interview with Member of Parliament, member of the Social Affairs Committee.

29 This obsession with family planning and sexuality echoes colonial states’ ‘domesticating impulse’ riveted to the body of the colonised (Stoler, 1995).

30 The term is borrowed from Ball (2012) and refers to a “way of reasoning that seems to have no structural roots, no social locations and no origin”.

31 The association between secondary schooling and modernity is not reserved to the elite.
Stambach (2000) points to a similar perception, among northern Tanzania’s population (Kilimanjaro), of secondary schooling as a site of emergence of modern identities.

32 Interview with official, Planning Commission.

33 A curriculum developer in the Tanzanian Institute for Education wondered: ‘What is the origin of competence-based education in Tanzania? Was it imported from other countries or did it have deep indigenous roots here? When I went to visit back the Arusha Declaration and Education for Self Reliance, I found the whole thing there: developing critical thinking among the people, developing Science and Technology, combining work and the education’.

34 Rigorous statistics on the labour market are scant. In enterprise surveys, businessmen do not identify the lack of skills as their main obstacle. The share of telecommunication and financial services in the national GDP has grown but like mining or construction, they remain capital intensive industries. Most jobs, mainly unskilled, are created in the informal sector. Bemused by a systematic conflation between language of instruction and language of communication, very few in the elite question the percentage of the labour force that competes on a globalised labour market where English could indeed make a difference.

35 “Our education has to provide skills to our children, young people, and adults. It also has to help to build attitudes appropriate to the development of our society” (Nyerere, 1984: 155).

36 ‘I want to be quite sure that our educational institutions are not going to end up as factories turning out marketable commodities’ (1974: 126).

37 This contradiction was already pointed out in Mbilinyi (2006).

38 For instance a high rank government official underlined the political sensitivity of the subject among policy-makers: “On the debate between skills and academic knowledge, the government is reluctant to take a strong position”.

Table des illustrations

Titre Graph 1: Enrolment in secondary education (Government - Non Government) 1961-2010 Enrolment
Crédits Source: URT-MoEVT (2011)
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/828/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 16k
Titre Graph 2: Transition Rate From Primary to Secondary Education (Government and Non- Government)
Crédits Source: URT-MoEVT (2011)
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/828/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 24k
Titre Graph 3: Share of Sub - Sector Allocations in The Education Budget (in % 2002 / 03 - 2011/12)
Crédits Source: the author based on URT-MoEVT (2011: 165)
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/828/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 21k
Titre Graph 4: Spending Per Student in Primary and Secondary Education 2002 /03 - 2011/12
Légende NB. Budget in constant prices computed via the GDP deflator, base year 2001. Due to data availability, by convention, the ‘primary education spending unit’ was computed using the enrolment in public primary public schools and the budget for ‘primary, non-formal, other education institutions and supporting services’.
Crédits Source: the author, based on enrolment and budget data from URT-MoEVT (2011)
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/828/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 20k
Titre Graph 5: People’ preferred activities
Crédits Source: URT-NBS (2006)
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/828/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 24k

Auteur

Holds a PhD in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Her research interests cover the political economy of education in Africa, the textbook industry, and social mobilisation around school provision and aid management. She has an extensive professional experience as a development practitioner in education planning and financing, public finance management and decentralisation.

© Africae, 2015

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