Shujaaz 360: Tanzania [ARCHIVE]

  • Blog
  • 10 Oct 2017

While every young Tanzanian follows their own individual life journey, most of those journeys have similar milestones. Young people’s performance at these milestones defines not only the progress at their next life stage but also their overall success across their lifecycle.

For boys, milestones are related to primary education at early life stages and skills acquisition in their late teens and early 20s. Education, in the broadest sense, is key to their later economic livelihood.

For girls, education is coupled with the risk of unplanned pregnancy. Both education and sexual and reproductive health create the foundation for girl’s success in life.

The “face of success” for young people varies. Yet, most of them define life success through money and possessions, healthy family relationships and social status.

Young people in Tanzania appear to be benefitting greatly from the new policy on free primary education. The effect, however, differs for boys and girls. The money allocated by families to educating boys now buys them secondary school and even advanced education, because primary education is now free. More girls now get primary education, yet few advance beyond primary.

While recognizing the value of education, young Tanzanians are very realistic about the fact that it is hard work and perseverance, not just education, that leads to achieving their goals.

In the past two years, Tanzania has been going through an economic crisis, which has had a profound effect on young people. While young Tanzanians are earning about the same average monthly income as a year ago, their cost of living has increased by at least 10%. As a result, more young people than a year ago report that they do not earn enough to cover their daily expenses.

Most young Tanzanians have at least two sources of income. Those that report having a small business (a ‘hustle’) as their main or secondary income source are four times more likely than those with formal employment to earn enough to cover all of their expenses and have money left-over to invest.

While the bulk of hustles are in the agricultural sector, there appears to be a very clear locational specialization: with hustles in rural areas being in farming and livestock rearing and urban hustlers most likely to be engaged in a food service business. This trend highlights the continuous struggle of the agricultural sector to attract young people.  While agriculture has a strong image of an industry for rural youth, who are born into it, urban youth often find their place as young entrepreneurs in a food service industry.

These challenges are further augmented by poor understanding among young people of the range of opportunities offered by the agricultural value chain. Opportunities in developing new technologies or new agricultural processes remain in the space outside young people’s consciousness.

When it comes to sexual and reproductive health, most youth report becoming sexually active between the ages of 16 and 18. Just under half report discussing issues related to contraceptive use and family planning with other people. Friends, classmates and other peers lead among the top five resources for these conversations. Yet these conversations often spread negative stereotypes about contraceptives and reinforce the social norm of NOT using contraceptives. As a result, there is still a high number of unplanned pregnancies and early marriages among girls aged 15-19, especially in rural areas.

Overall, young people’s lifestyles and preferences largely reflect what they believe to be relevant to their immediate needs. They are also influenced by their immediate community, including their family’s financial capacity, peer pressure, and other judgmental behavioral norms.

Our Shujaaz 360 Tanzania report provides a new multidimensional perspective on what it means to be a young Tanzanian today, together with some suggestions on how to capture young people’s attention and offer them both value for today and for their future.