Education in Pemba

Basic Government-funded education in Zanzibar is compulsory for 10 years, seven of which are spent in primary and three in secondary. At the end of 10 years, having completed Junior Secondary pupils take the Form II exam at the age of 14/15. There are two further stages of secondary education; senior secondary education and advanced level which are both two years.

Secondary education comprises secondary schools and “colleges”. To gain a place at a college, which are known for better infrastructure, students must pass the Standard Six exam, taken at age 11 upon leaving primary. Colleges are exclusively boarding, and this means that some students who win a place are not able to attend due to the costs associated with travelling and living.

The abolition of school fees by the Zanzibar government has meant that many schools are unable to fund basic requirements such as construction and renovation, hiring of teachers and the purchase of learning materials. Prior to the eradication of school fees, schools would charge additional fees to parents which would pay for general running costs.

Many school facilities on the island fall short in basic infrastructure needs, classrooms are often not big enough for the number of students or there are too few teachers. Connection and supply of power and water to schools is sometimes limited and access to water for sanitation and drinking, as well as the availability of electricity in schools has been consistently noted as an immediate need. Many schools could also benefit from renovation projects such as roof and floor repairs, painting, blackboard painting, repair to sanitary equipment and more school furniture. The lack of teachers often means not all subjects are covered, with the sciences often being neglected.

Children, particularly in rural areas, are often expected by their family to help with activities such as fishing or farming for subsistence purposes, meaning their education is not a priority. At the Kwanini Foundation we believe that education is a vital tool to empower future generations of Pemba. We want to turn the situation in Pemba schools around, to support the local community in its education and secure better prospects for their future. As a result, one member of the Kwanini Foundation has established an informal school catering for a wide range of kids to the age of 11. Teaching is by volunteers and the focus, at the moment, is on learning English, Maths and of course Swahili! We want to expand this in the future to include instruction on natural history, conservation and environmental management to align the education strategy with the Foundation’s core activities.

If you want to know more about the school please click on the link to Sele’s school (add link)


Ashakh, K. (2013). Zanzibar Education Policy – Education Structure. Available at: [Date Accessed: 20/08/2018]

Bayisenge, J. 2010. Early marriage as a Barrier to a Girl’s Education: A Developmental Challenge in Africa. In book: Girl-Child Education in Africa, Chapter: 4, Publisher: CIDJAP Press, Editors: C. Ikekeonwu, pp.43-66

Human Rights Watch. 2017. “I had a Dream to Finish School” Barriers to Secondary Education in Tanzania.

Shamhuna, A.J. n.d. Education Fact Sheet: Tanzania (Zanzibar). Available at: [Date Accessed: 20/08/2018]

Quick Fact

Lost Opportunities

Children are often miss school because they are expected by their family to help with activities such as fishing or farming, meaning their education is not a priority