Zanzibar operates as a semi-autonomous state of Tanzania comprising a population of 1.3 million. Tourism is the island’s major economic contributor with regular visitors from Europe and South Africa particularly. Apart from tourism, and outside of the capital, Stone Town, employment opportunities are limited with most people eking a livelihood through small scale fishing and crop production. Zanzibar depends on the importation of goods which in turn elevates the cost of living. Main imports include machinery, metal, minerals, stone and wood, as well as animal products and vegetables.
Zanzibarian education comprises 2 years of pre-primary schooling, 6 years of primary, and subsequently 4 years of general secondary schooling all of which is compulsory. Thereafter, learners may opt to leave school or to continue for a further two years of senior secondary school before entering the tertiary system. The introduction of free education in Tanzania in 2002 led to a huge influx of children enrolling at schools however, the infrastructure to support this growth in numbers lags behind for most schools, particularly those in poor, rural communities resulting in classroom overcrowding.
In recent years there has also been a growth in the number of children opting for the secondary level education which has demanded greater staff and resource capacity. Furthermore, research by UNICEF in 2018 found that 140,000 children aged 4 – 15 (approx. one third of children in this age group), are not in school in Zanzibar with a major barrier to improving this situation being the lack of capacity for schools to absorb additional students. Improving the state of existing schools in Zanzibar therefore is a top priority for Africa Foundation.