Skip to Main Navigation
FEATURE STORYJanuary 24, 2023

Continuous Teacher Training Goes Nationwide in Tanzania


At Chang'ombe Primary School, math teachers attend online professional workshops to assist their teaching on difficult topics. Teachers Stumai Omary Kawago and Neema Yella Kanyiksi watch Shukuran Majlua Salige’s presentation. Photo by Eileen Xu/World Bank


  • A World Bank-funded program is piloting continuous professional development for primary school teachers in Tanzania.
  • Collaborative, school-based teacher training has demonstrated its potential for improving teachers’ competencies and the quality of classroom instruction in other countries.
  • A Tanzanian government report says 2,946 public primary schools are implementing the program, with hopes of expanding it to thousands more.

A new teacher training system is working to create effective, affordable, in- service training for teachers in Tanzania. Popularly known by its Swahili acronym, MEWAKA, the National Framework for Teacher Continuous Professional Development (TCPD) was introduced in 2020, not long after the Tanzanian government found that 80% of its teachers hadn’t received any training for five years. Its key innovation is to have initiated collaborative, school-based professional development, which has elsewhere demonstrated its potential for improving teachers’ competencies and the quality of classroom instruction.

At Mgulani Primary School near Dar es Salaam, the collaborative approach, which encourages teachers to share their classroom experience and talk through any problems they have with content, has boosted teachers’ confidence and rubbed off on students. 

Students don’t get bored. You can tell — by the way they ask more questions — that they enjoy lessons and being in class. And they like their teachers better. Before MEWAKA, teachers made students cram.
Kassimu Dellow
Math teacher

The program is supported by the $500 million World Bank-funded BOOST Primary Student Learning Program for Results, with the aim to improve equitable access to quality learning in pre-primary (pre-K) and primary (elementary) education in mainland Tanzania. An additional World Bank Teach/Coach SUNSET grant of $500,000 covers monitoring and evaluation, the development of digitized teacher training modules, intense training for primary school math tutors (in partnership with the UNESCO Teacher Education Center in Shanghai), and capacity building for peer facilitators and school leaders.

MEWAKA’s plan is to pilot continuous professional development in each of Tanzania’s 26 regions, scaling it up year-on-year until it reaches every primary school by the end of 2026. It started in early 2022 with the orientation and training of two teachers (per pilot school), local education officers, and headteachers. Schools with successful training sessions have features in common: teachers trained for peer facilitation, needs-based planning, a focus on improving instruction through collaborative learning, and buy-in from headteachers and management. The results-based financing model means program funds are disbursed when targets for training coverage and teacher participation are met.

Its objective lies in its full name, Mwongozo was Kutekeleza Mafunzo Endelevu ya Walimu Kazini, or A Guide to Implementing Continuous On-the-Job Training for Teachers. A Learning Management System (LMS) comprising an e-learning library and interactive platform is being developed by Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE) and provided  to all schools and teachers. BOOST provides additional technical assistance to TIE for its core capacity in developing curriculum and teaching and learning materials, and to the Agency for the Development of Educational Management and 184 Local Government Authorities (LGAs) to strengthen education management.

Training first

The idea of school-based professional development for teachers is not new in Tanzania. Several development partners have piloted the approach in select regions at various times. Though these projects had a positive impact, they were limited in scope. Hence, this is the first time the Tanzanian government has put a national, school-level model in place. Transformational in nature, TCPD can be used to lay the foundation for the future dissemination of new curriculum or innovative pedagogy.

Different government bodies are involved in implementing it. TIE has developed training modules, guidelines, and other mechanisms to support it, and the President’s Office for Regional Administration and Local Government has the mandate to implement, supervise and monitor it. Under this, schools are required to develop plans based on their teachers’ needs, and District Education Officers (DEOs) obliged to submit monthly reports. According to the government’s monitoring report, all 2,946 public primary schools in the 26 LGAs piloting the program are implementing it.

At Mgulani Primary School in Temeke District, Arnold Mark Rweyemamu demonstrates the teaching of prime numbers. Photo by Eileen Xu/World Bank

Teething problems

There are challenges: The first is keeping up momentum. The program encourages teachers to meet weekly in school to swap learning tips and to meet monthly with teachers from other schools at a Teacher Resource Center or a nearby hub school. Those who are doing this, however, say it’s often not enough. “It would be best if these trainings are more frequent,” said Dellow, the math teacher. “They shouldn’t forget about us.”

Aisha Mbarak, another teacher at Mgulani, would like to see MEWAKA scheduled during school hours rather than outside them. Even more helpful, says Dr. Aneth Komba, Director General of the TIE, would be a classroom observation tool and manual to guide teachers. “We need to learn how to organize ourselves, how to make use of the time to learn from each other and support each other to improve classroom instruction.”

Teachers also say they need more resources, pointing out that in math class they still sometimes use beans to teach students the basics, and that when they have an idea for something else that could help, they don’t always have the money to pay for it. The same applies to other classes. “Right now, we’re using tools that we come up with ourselves, traditional tools,” said Mbarak, who teaches Kiswahili and social studies. “If we had specific tools to help us in our teachings, it would be very nice.” The government capitation grant per primary student, net of teacher salaries and textbooks, is about $2, which is expected to cover maintenance, small repairs, and teaching learning supplies.

The second, more daunting challenge, according to Xiaoyan Liang, a World Bank Lead Education Specialist and the BOOST Team Leader, is teacher motivation.  While TCPD is supposed to be mandatory, teachers’ participation is not linked to their career progression. Teaching standards in Tanzania suffer from a relatively low bar to entry, poor working conditions, and the absence of a functional career ladder or other incentives for performing well or working in hardship posts. “It’s necessary to link teacher performance and their participation in MEWAKA with recognition and other incentives,” said Liang. “BOOST is also assisting Tanzania to develop a single, national policy on teachers that would reflect higher professional standards and more equitable deployment, and encourage performance to create a competitive teaching profession.”

Developing a learning culture

Nonetheless, teachers who have begun collaborative learning—through peer learning, classroom observation, coaching and mentoring—such as those at Mgulani Primary School, say they find it immensely helpful. The idea is that schools will slowly but surely create a learning culture, but this will take time to happen in the 17,000 plus primary schools across the country.

Access to learning modules is limited, partly due to the unreliability of the internet and a shortage of tablets and other computers. Speeding this up will help. The government has recently distributed the 300,000 tablets it used for a population census to teachers and TIE has successfully negotiated with network operators to give teachers free access to the LMS. “We are committed to supporting our walimu (teachers), the most important ingredient in quality education and Tanzania’s future,” said Professor Carolyne Nombo, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Tanzania’s Ministry of Education Science and Technology. “We began 2023 well, and MEWAKA is now operating in 50 LGAs.”

From the point of view of those involved in the BOOST program, Tanzania has made a great start, but buy-in from all levels and facets of education management, including LGA District and Ward Education Officers, School Quality Assurance Officers, and headteachers is seen as crucial. Teacher Training Colleges could play a more prominent role in training as well.

Ultimately, financing policy needs to be adjusted to raise the level of the capitation grant (money allocated for teaching materials per primary school student) or include school-based TCPD in recurrent expenditure, a mechanism effective in high performing education systems, where professional development is given a dedicated budget line. Continuous positive feedback and steady visible improvement in learning outcomes will also sustain MEWAKA to become part and parcel of the Tanzanian education system.


    loader image


    loader image