Tanzania Tom Stoddart Archive/Getty Images

How to Transform an Education System

From 2000 to 2009, primary-school enrollment rates in Tanzania more than doubled, from just over four million pupils to 8.5 million, or 96% of all primary-school-age children. Other developing and middle-income countries – many of them in Africa – should emulate the country's education-first model.

DAR ES SALAAM – A week, it is said, is a long time in politics. That was certainly the case at the end of last month, when, in a single day, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, its prime minister, David Cameron, announced his resignation, and Britain and Europe, not to mention global markets, were thrown into turmoil.

When it comes to education, by contrast, a week can be the blink of an eye. Change happens over years, if not decades – and perhaps not even then. But, if successful, the establishment of a well-functioning education system can change a country’s face – and redefine its fate.

That is what happened in my country, Tanzania. From 2000 to 2009, primary-school enrollment rates in Tanzania more than doubled, from just over four million pupils to 8.5 million, or 96% of all primary-school-age children. In other words, at the primary level, Tanzania now boasts near-full enrollment.

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