1. Definitions

2. School Organization

3. Laws, Plans, Policies and Programmes

4. Governance

5. Learning Environments

6. Teachers and Support Personnel

7. Monitoring and Reporting


  1. Definitions


The 2018–21 National Strategy for Inclusive Education defines inclusive education as an 'approach which transforms the education system, including its structure, policies, practices and human resources, to accommodate all learners in mainstream education by addressing and responding to learners’ diverse needs. It involves defining and maintaining standards of inclusiveness, adaptation and modification of curriculum content, teaching and learning materials, pedagogy and environment to ensure access to, and participation in quality education for all learners irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, socio-economic and cultural background, physical and intellectual abilities and special learning needs.'

The Strategy also considers as vulnerable groups over-aged learners with gap years in their education; learners who live more than seven km far from school; children with disabilities; children from nomadic communities; orphans; refugees and learners experienced other emergencies; children living in extreme poverty and teenage girls.

According to the Education and training sector development programme 2007-2011, special needs may arise throughout the learning career from social, psychological, cultural and/or physical disability factors.


Zanzibar Education development Plan II defines Inclusive education as the approach of embracing all children challenged physically and with specific learning difficulties, rural marginalized children, the poor and girls, including those fallen behind in learning.

The 2005 Education Policy stated that learners with special needs include pupils with different kinds of disabilities, slow learners, and exceptionally gifted children.


  1. School Organization


Non-governmental organisations and churches have traditionally offered segregated special education in boarding schools. Nowadays, a few private and government special day schools still exist. Most children with disabilities receive education in integrated special needs units in regular schools; some of the integrated units are with boarding facilities, whilst the most are day units.

The National Strategy on Inclusive Education 2009-2017 aimed to convert special schools into resource centers. In order to become resource centres, special schools have to embrace the inclusive education approach and have specialized qualified teachers. Resource centres offer short-term intensive programmes to cater for learners’ needs, such as Braille and alternative communication methods.

The Out of School Children Study conducted by UNICEF reported that about 3.5 million children and youth were not receiving education in 2016. Even though more than a half of primary schools in Tanzania enrolled children with special needs, over 340,000 children were children and youth with disabilities. Based on that, the 2018–21 National Strategy for Inclusive Education recognized the need to improve Complimentary Basic Education in Tanzania (COBET) and Integrated Program for Out of School Youths (IPOSA), community-based programmes designed to provide basic education to out of school children and youth. In particular, the strategy document aims to review them to enable learners to be reintegrated into regular education.

Special emphasized is laid on early need identification. The 2018–21 Strategy includes among its objectives the improvement of a screening system at pre-primary level and onwards to enable early identification of learners at risk of exclusion or of dropping out, including children with special needs, girls, nomadic children and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.

In addition, Education Support and Resource Assessment Centres developed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology aim to specially improve early identification and assessment of children with special needs, provide care and support for children with Albinism and low vision, and to improve teaching provision for visually and hearing-impaired children and for learners with intellectual disabilities and/or autism.  


There is no special education provision. Most learners are integrated in mainstream classrooms, but special units or classes in regular schools continue to exist, as stated in the 2013 Inclusive and Learner Friendly Education Policy.


  1. Laws, Plans, Policies and Programmes


According to the 1977 Constitution, as amended in 2005, every person has the right to access education (art.11.2). It further mandates the state to ensure that all persons have equal and sufficient opportunity to pursue education and vocational training (art.11.3). The 1978 Education Act enshrines compulsory schooling at the primary level of education and states that ‘no person may be denied opportunity to obtain... education for the reason only of his race, religion or political or ideological beliefs’ (art.56.2).

The Primary Education Development Plan, whose first phase ran from 2001 to 2006, revised for the second phase from 2007 to 2011 and again 2012 to 2017, and to 2021-21, aims to provide all children from difficult and hard-to-reach areas, orphans and those with disabilities with education, introducing the concept of inclusive education as a means to address the exclusion of certain groups.

In 2009, to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable children, the Government developed the National Strategy on Inclusive Education 2009 -2017, which aimed to enhance education provision for children with special needs through an inclusive approach. Building on the Strategy, the 2018-2021 National Strategy for Inclusive Education further strengthens the education system to provide more equitable learning opportunities for all children and youth, including vulnerable groups. With this intent, the National Strategy for Inclusive Education pays particular attention to marginalized groups, such as children with disabilities, out-of-school children, including over-aged boys, teenage girls and students who completed standard seven and who transit to lower secondary education.

The Education Sector Development Plan 2016/17–2020/21 reflects these commitments, settings targets and indicators for a more equitable and inclusive education system.

  • Disability

As a first policy framework engaging people with disabilities, the 2004 National Policy on Disability provides a conducive environment for inclusive education. It sheds light on the need to improve and increase skills training for persons with disabilities. The Persons with Disabilities Act 2010 ensures that persons with disabilities benefit from their rights without any discrimination. In particular, under section 27, the Act lays down the right to education in inclusive settings and the right to disability-related support services. It further stipulates that special schools are considered transitional towards inclusive schools.

The National Strategy on Inclusive Education 2009 -2017 targeted specifically children and youth with disabilities by highlighting the need to provide special pedagogical support for them at school and the use of sign language and Braille. The 2018-2021 National Strategy for Inclusive Education acknowledges that children and youth with disabilities are not supported, as emerged by the high number of repetition rate and large out-of-school population. It then reiterates the objective to provide children and youth with basic education through better trained school personnel and learning conditions.

  • Gender

The 2013 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Development Programme has a goal to improve access to guidance, counselling and employment services for female learners to increase their enrolment and completion rates. Explicit provisions in education legislation are missing to prohibit the expulsion of pregnant girls from school.

  • Ethnic and linguistic groups

The 2009–17 National Strategy on Inclusive Education recognizes that many learners speak a different language to that used for instruction. The strategy document therefore encourages learning materials to accommodate learners’ need to developing thinking in their first language. The government decided in 2015 to extend the use of Kiswahili to secondary education. The need to explore modalities of the possible adoption of Kiswahili as a language of teaching and learning was reaffirmed in the 2008–17 Education Sector Development Programme.

  • Poverty

The 2010 National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty aims to enable equitable access to all levels of education and expand higher and adult education and TVET through measures including the rehabilitation and the expansion of school infrastructure, the provision of school materials and the review of curricula. In the implementation of the Education and Training Policy in 2015, fees and contributions to secondary education were removed. However, some indirect costs remain, such as for school and sports uniforms and learning materials.

  • Albinism

In June 2015, the Human Rights Council appointed the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. The 2018-2021 National Strategy for Inclusive Education intends to review and update the guidelines on education of children with Albinism.


The Zanzibar Constitution of 1984 lays down the right of every person to access equal opportunity to adequate education, protecting and promoting Zanzibar culture (Art. 10.6).

  • Disability

The 2006 Law on Disability addresses disability in relation to education, family and employment, followed by the more recent 2010 Policy on Disability.

In the education sector, the Zanzibar 2017–22 education development plan aims to develop an appropriate inclusive education filter for all education programmes. At the classroom level, this is also understood to include effective mechanisms for early detection and monitoring of students with disabilities. The 2006 Education Policy dedicated a specific section to learners with special needs, referring to learners with hearing, speech and sight impairments. It identifies as main weaknesses the lack of understanding of their specific needs, the shortages of qualified teachers and accessibility problems. Notwithstanding, it states that inclusive education needs to be promoted to ensure learners equal opportunities. It further states that children with disabilities must be able to attend a local school.

  • Gender

The 2006 Education Policy has set up institutional structures to facilitate gender mainstreaming in national development programmes. It also recognizes that early marriage and teenage pregnancies are still one of the main causes of dropouts. Despite the amendment of the Single Parents Act in 2005 and the establishment of an Alternative Learning Centre which enable young mothers to continue with studies after delivery, and the Education Act, which protects girls from being married before completing basic education, the problem persists To promote gender equality, Zanzibar has adopted some initiatives, such as the introduction of special science classes for girls, the removal of gender stereotyping in the curriculum and teaching and learning materials, and the introduction of counselling services. The Zanzibar 2017–22 education development plan aims to develop an appropriate gender filter for all education programmes.


  1. Governance


  • Cooperation across sectors

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) collaborates with the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Youth Development, the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children, and civil society organizations to facilitate the provision of education of out-of-school youth including children with special educational needs. An ad-hoc National Committee was established to deal with violence against women, children and people with albinism.

According to the National Strategy on Inclusive Education 2009-2017, a Department for Educational Support and Inclusive Education and an advisory board on Inclusive Education should have been set up within the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to coordinate policy initiatives and with planning functions, and to share expertise, respectively; but these have not yet been established. A special working group on inclusive education was set up for the development of the 2018-2021 National Strategy for Inclusive Education.

  • Cooperation across government levels

The MoEST provides direction for the development of inclusive education, the Ward constitutes a link between schools and services and the local government authorities constitute a focal point for service delivery and coordination. At national level, the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG) holds the responsibility for policy management.


Education management is centralized. The establishment of regional and district education offices within the ministry’s departments has not been accompanied by decision-making power or financial authority.


  1. Learning Environments


  • Infrastructure

Improving infrastructure and facilities to provide a barrier-free learning environment is one of the objectives of the inclusive education strategy of the country and of the TVET Development Programme.

  • Learning materials

The 2009–17 National Strategy on Inclusive Education intends to produce guidelines for the production of inclusive and gender-sensitive textbooks and learning materials. The strategy encourages the adoption of a universal design for learning and teaching materials. The PO-RALG is mandated to handle the distribution of assistive devices, facilities, equipment and other learning materials in schools for persons with disabilities.


  • Infrastructure

Inadequate infrastructure has been identified as a key problem in the Zanzibar 2017–22 education development plan. Based on planned needs and according to the pupil–teacher ratio, new classrooms have to be constructed in order to remove double shifting. Existing and new schools are to be equipped with adequate WASH facilities, particularly for girls and children with disabilities.

  • Curriculum

Developed in 2007, the curriculum is expected to be the object of a gender review by the Zanzibar Institute of Education. A curriculum review was under way of pre-primary and primary education sections and was to include all aspects of inclusive education. A framework was also being developed, complete with a costed implementation, with a target of September 2019.


  1. Teachers and Support Personnel


The National Policy on Disability firstly identified the need of an individualized education plan for teachers. The need of attracting, developing and retraining adequate teachers was then reaffirmed with the adoption of the Teacher Development and Management Strategy in 2008, revised in 2013, which called for reviewing the pre-service teacher education curricula and in-service programmes to include special needs education.

The shortage of teachers in special needs education and inclusive education is pervasive. The Patandi Teacher Training College is the only institute providing training in special education, but its curricula are not designed in line with inclusive education principles, rather only in single disability areas. Teachers receive seminars and training which are reported to fail to deal with the current phase of integration of children with disabilities into mainstream schools due to lack of funds. Alongside teachers, other school personnel need to be involved in regular in-service training, especially for the development of inclusive education.

Itinerant specialist teachers provide support to teachers and learners in a few regions. Their task is mainly to assist regular schools in making adaptations and preparing materials for blind learners.

Budling on this, the 2018-2021 National Strategy for Inclusive Education paid particular attention to teacher training and includes among its objectives building their capacity on inclusiveness standards and conducive learning environments. It aims to review the Teacher Education Curriculum Framework, drawing on the Inclusive Education Kit, developed by the Tanzania Institute of Education to facilitate training for teachers on inclusive education.


The Zanzibar 2006 Education Policy established that teachers have to gain work experience in rural and urban areas as part of their professional development.


  1. Monitoring and Reporting

The National Strategy for Inclusive Education 2018-2021 acknowledges that data vulnerable children and youth and on learners with disabilities is limited.

It therefore intends to track progress towards achieving all of its targets through a rigorous Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. It has bene planned to be developed separately and it is expected to report on disaggregate results by gender and by geographical location, and to have a specific focus on disadvantaged groups, such as orphans and vulnerable children, and children and adults with learning and physical disabilities

Last modified:

Fri, 03/06/2022 - 11:51