The education and training of artisans for the informal sector in Tanzania


Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and since independence has been governed by a single political party. At Independence the literacy rate per se was very low and one of most immediate political objectives was to raise literacy levels among the population as part of the socio-economic development of the country and for about twenty years the education of adults and children was accorded a high priority. However, this rapid expansion of educational provision has resulted in an educational system that is severely impeded by a shortage of funds, poor facilities and physical resources. In addition, the drive towards universal primary education raised the expectations and aspirations of parents and pupils. This subsequently contributed towards the development of an elitist culture that the government was unable to stem. This culture has permeated not only the educational system, but also influenced peoples' perceptions of employment and work.

Secondary education was considered to be the key to future wage-employment in the formal sector, but for the ever increasing numbers of young people who were unable to progress to secondary education, the stark reality was that they were forced to choose between agriculture, or employment/self-employment in the informal sector. A problem exacerbated by a rising birth rate, improved health care and continued economic decline that has resulted in increasing levels of unemployment and underemployment of young people.

Over the last 30 years there has been growing international interest in what is called the 'informal sector' as a mechanism of employment and income generation in developing countries. However, the government of Tanzania did not recognise, or acknowledge the economic value of the informal sector principally for ideological reasons, until the economic decline forced the government to reappraise their perceptions and policies towards local, indigenous technologies and enterprises. Enterprises, that were once despised and discriminated against are now actively supported and promoted, for they are increasingly being considered to be the principal mechanism for economic survival for ever greater numbers of people.

To operate successfully as artisans in the informal sector young people require a range of knowledge and skills. This study considered the needs of young people and sought the views of primary school pupils, street youth and informal sector employers, as well as policy makers, administrators, Principals and Headteachers. In the course of the study, the types of education and training provision was mapped and evaluated through visits to a number of registered vocational training centres that formally prepared trainees for formal sector employment and also centres that are specifically training youth for the informal sector. In addition, the training provided by a number of informal sector operators was studied.

This research provides a composite picture of the factors which influence education and training in the context of the informal sector. The report will be of particular interest to educational policy makers, administrators and academics involved in the provision of education and training. The findings will also be of value to those concerned with the development and implementation of strategies and approaches to assist the development of the informal sector and youth education and training generally.


Educational Paper No. 18, DFID, London, UK, ISBN 1 90250 074 0, 143 pp.

The education and training of artisans for the informal sector in Tanzania

Published 1 January 1996