Situated in East Africa, Tanzania's economy is based largely on agriculture, with a rural population of over 66%.1 It has one of the lowest rates of high school enrolment in Africa, with less than 56% of children transitioning from primary to secondary school.2

CAMFED Tanzania launched in 2005, and by 2021 was operating in 32 districts, working with the government to boost secondary school enrolment. We first started our work in the town of Iringa, where many girls who couldn’t afford secondary school fees were leaving home to become “house girls” in urban centers. Frequently, they were abused and exploited, and many returned home pregnant, living with HIV or both.

In 2015, the Tanzanian government took significant steps to reaching the sustainable development goals by introducing fee-free education  at both primary and secondary school level. However, even when school fees are dropped, indirect financial burdens on households such as transport (particularly for those living in rural areas), exam papers, school lunch and extra tuition mean that families still pay significant amounts for their children’s education. Children from the poorest families are three times less likely to attend primary school than those from the wealthiest families3 and 41%4 of adolescents are still left out of secondary education due to absenteeism and drop out. 

By paying their school going costs (which include school uniforms, school supplies, or boarding costs, for example) we are able to support thousands of girls through secondary school every year. However, many challenges remain: schools are understaffed and lack vital resources, such as textbooks and equipment, for example.5

This short documentary, narrated by former CAMFED Tanzania client Diris Martin and National Director Lydia Wilbard, explores the impact of the Learner Guide Program.  CAMFED Tanzania is partnering with education,  government and international stakeholders to explore ways of scaling the program nationally.

“I have been with CAMFED since it started in Tanzania. What makes me feel so excited about our work is seeing the girls we are supporting rising from despair to having hope. Some of the girls have been able to achieve things they thought they’d never be able to achieve – passing exams, running businesses, and becoming Learner Guides, mentors and role models to other vulnerable children.

They are now respected by their families and communities, holding positions of responsibility, and giving back by helping others. That obvious change in each girl has happened because CAMFED has invested in them. This is what motivates me to go to work each day.”

Lydia Wilbard, National Director, CAMFED Tanzania

Tanzania has started to build many secondary schools, but there is a lack of highly qualified (especially female) teachers, and of learning materials.  The fact that the teaching language currently switches from Swahili to English at secondary level is a particular challenge. Without access to resources and support, children find it very hard to acquire the literacy and language skills required to learn and pass their exams. We started addressing these issues through trained Teacher Mentors, who work across government partner schools, identifying new ways of helping girls to pass their exams in a context where 50%6 of students fail.

Teacher Mentors are now being joined by Learner Guides - young women in the CAMFED Association (CAMA), who return to local schools to support vulnerable children with life skills, study skills and literacy training. Learner Guides understand the barriers imposed by poverty from their own lived experience. As peer role models and mentors, they are transforming prospects for young people.

We provide textbooks for a significant number of our partner secondary schools, as well as individual ‘My Better World’ workbooks for the students supported by Learner Guides. We have also introduced e-readers to a significant number of our partner schools to provide targeted, relevant materials to students in support of a new literacy curriculum, delivered by Learner Guides.

  • 54,664

    Students supported with secondary scholarships

    CAMFED provides holistic and targeted support for girls to go to secondary school, covering needs that might include school or exam fees, uniforms, sanitary wear, books, pens, bikes, boarding fees or disability aids.

  • 88,355

    Students supported to go to primary school

    CAMFED's Safety Net Fund for partner primary schools provides essential items for children at primary school to prevent them from dropping out of school.

  • 821

    Partner Schools

    CAMFED works in genuine partnership with government schools to help improve the learning environment for all students. Sharing information on school performance and working with the community to implement change is crucial to success.

  • 56,786

    Community Champions

    CAMFED's program works because of the commitment of local community champions and activists. These volunteers include everyone from traditional leaders to government education officials, teachers, parents, and former students.

  • 29,320

    CAMFED Association

    Members of the CAMFED Association - the largest network of its kind in Africa - offer peer support, mentoring, and training and leadership opportunities, and spearhead our programs.

  • 731,868

    Students supported by community initiatives

    CAMFED Association members partner with their communities to support more vulnerable children to go to primary and secondary school, by providing school meals, paying school fees, buying supplies, or providing a home to orphans, for example.


1. World Bank (2018), https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.RUR.TOTL.ZS?locations=TZ (accessed 04 May 2020)

2. UNICEF (2018), Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children: Tanzania Country Report, p.41, Table 42, https://www.unicef.org/tanzania/media/596/file/Tanzania-2018-Global-Initiative-Out-of-School-Children-Country-Report.pdf  (accessed 04 May 2020)

3. Ibid, p.37

4. Ibid, p.46

5.  Ibid. 4.3.7 Shortage of textbook supply: The average pupil to text book ratio is 5 to 1 in lower primary school classes and 6 to 1 in upper primary school classes, p. 55.

6. Ibid. The average pass rate 2010-2014: 50%  Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and 54.8% Secondary Form IV Examination (CSEE), p.43.

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