Prison Education in Tanzania: Policy versus Practice


  • Mohamed Salum Msoroka
  • Brian Findsen
  • Jo Barnes


Scholarly literature is increasingly suggesting that prison education can save society from reoffending costs. As a result of this view, international and local prison education policies are being developed to guide educational activities in prisons. This qualitative study explores prison education policies and practices in five Tanzanian prisons. It addresses the question: Do current practices adequately reflect the intention and substance of the policies? Methodologically, this study employed diverse data collection mechanisms including document analysis from international to local levels. The findings suggest that Tanzania prisons have yet to fully embrace international prison education policies. The main governmental prison education policy of Tanzania – the Prison Education Guide – is not rooted in the laws of the country, suggesting that, in this respect, Tanzania has yet to comply with the 1999 Arusha Declaration on Good Prison Practice. The Prison Education Guide was interpreted differently in every prison. Educational programmes suffered from a lack of resources, accentuated by the shortage of funds. Thus, many prisoners did not have access to educational programmes. Accordingly, it is concluded that the current practices do not adequately reflect the intention and substance of the policies as there is a big gap between prison education policy and practice in the Tanzanian context. A perspective transformation from prison authorities and more collaborative approaches both internally in prisons but also externally with various stakeholders to improve prison education in Tanzania is recommended. 

Author Biographies

Mohamed Salum Msoroka

The Open University of Tanzania

Brian Findsen

University of Waikaton

Jo Barnes

University of Waikato