The Cost Of A ‘Free’ Primary Education In Tanzania

One of the most widely heralded educational policy reforms of the past few years has been the elimination of primary school fees in countries where pupils and parents have been responsible for such costs. Consistent with the goals of Education for All (EFA), international organizations and national governments in many Sub-Saharan African countries have joined together to increase access to schooling by abolishing fees and other mandatory contributions. The logic for such a change in policy is clear: If the cost of schooling is too high, poor parents will not send their children to school; therefore, the elimination of compulsory charges will lower the cost of education and increase the number of children in school. Indeed, several studies suggest that the recent elimination of school fees in East Africa is the reason for the rapid increase in primary school enrollment (Glewwe & Zhao, 2005; International Monetary Fund and the International Development Association [IMF & IDA], 2001, 2004). EFA has also heralded a new era for girls‘ education in Africa, with global attention directed toward redressing gender disparities in enrollment and attainment through the lowering of school-related costs and other mechanisms (Bloch, Beoku-Betts, & Tabachnick, 1998; Samoff, 1999). Yet what if fees are only a fraction of the cost to parents to send their children—boys and girls—to school? What if schools cannot maintain themselves without required ―contributions‖ from parents because governments do not keep their financial promises? What if policies to abolish fees and other expenses satisfy international stakeholders but do not significantly reduce the financial burden of schooling on families, thereby necessitating children‘s labor in poor households?

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Vavrus, F & Moshi, G (2021). The Cost Of A ‘Free’ Primary Education In Tanzania. Afribary. Retrieved from

MLA 8th

Vavrus, Frances and Goodiel Moshi "The Cost Of A ‘Free’ Primary Education In Tanzania" Afribary. Afribary, 26 Apr. 2021, Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.


Vavrus, Frances, Goodiel Moshi . "The Cost Of A ‘Free’ Primary Education In Tanzania". Afribary, Afribary, 26 Apr. 2021. Web. 21 Jun. 2024. < >.


Vavrus, Frances and Moshi, Goodiel . "The Cost Of A ‘Free’ Primary Education In Tanzania" Afribary (2021). Accessed June 21, 2024.