Tanzania map


  • 77.9%
    Adult literacy rate*
  • 159 out of 189
    Human Development Index ranking*
  • 49.1%
    People living on less than $1.90 per day*

Why we work in Tanzania

Tanzania has benefited from relative stability since its independence in 1961, but many Tanzanians still live in extreme poverty, with a huge wealth gap between rural and urban populations.

Since universal primary education was introduced in 1990, Tanzania has witnessed a huge increase in school enrolments, with 80% of children completing primary school in 2012. This surge in attendance has increased pressure on educational infrastructure, staffing and resources and the quality of education has been impacted as a result.

Recent UWEZO testing showed only 56% of pupils aged 10-18 passing a basic literacy test. 40% of children do not continue their education into secondary school.

Although English is an official language in Tanzania and the key language of communication for the East African Community, Kiswahili is the primary language spoken in Tanzania, and this has had an impact on the acquisition and use of English. The books in English that we send are therefore especially important for developing English language skills for business, higher education or general communication and vital for the future development of the country.

In addition to the work we do on mainland Tanzania we also work in the Zanzibar archipelago (Unguja and Pemba), providing books through the Zanzibar Library Service to public libraries and schools.

Our work in Tanzania

The Tanzania Library Services Board (TLSB) runs a broad network of 45 public libraries in Tanzania and the majority of the books available through its networks are in English. Book purchasing budgets and the availability of books locally are both limited.

Welcoming children into reading

In addition to providing books for general collections in public libraries we have also worked with TLSB to establish 17 Children’s Corners within public libraries in Tanzania. This programme is creating vibrant and welcoming spaces for children in African public libraries.

Supporting schools in Tanzania

Each year we supply brand new, carefully selected books to schools in Tanzania, distributed through TLSB, which provides pupils and students with a resource of reading materials, both fiction and non-fiction reference, in English. We have also previously run our School Library in a Box project in the Kagera region of mainland Tanzania and in the Zanzibar archipelago. This project provided book boxes to schools which have no resource or space for a permanent library. 99 schools currently benefited from this project, and you can read about the programme’s impacts on children’s learning.

Supporting higher education in Tanzania

Higher education in Tanzania is primarily conducted in English and books are in short supply and in high demand by the growing numbers of higher education students.

We supply higher education titles both direct to academic institutions and through TLSB who distribute them on to institutions and public libraries where the books are also more easily accessible by distance learning students. Many of the books we send are medical and healthcare titles which enable students to improve their knowledge of more specialist subjects.


*UN Human Development Report 2019

Tanzania 2019: Our work in numbers


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