Improving Safe School Journeys in Tanzania

June 30, 2023

In many parts of Tanzania, the journey to and from school can be harrowing. Many students must cross high-speed roads to get to and from school or deal with other hazards such as inadequate sidewalks and even river crossings that can become impassable after heavy rains.

In a bid to improve road safety for the nation’s one million secondary school students, the Government of Tanzania—through the ongoing Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project—initiated a Safe Passage to School program as part of the broader Safe Schools Package.

The program aims to reduce risks associated with school journeys through: a) school community awareness raising on the risks students encounter on their school journeys; b) mapping of student routes to and from school; c) identification of specific risks associated with those routes; and d) development of school plans for safe passage.

In this context, GRSF funded a study managed by the World Bank Education team in Tanzania to analyze the problem in detail. Kisima Secondary School in the Mkuranga district was used as a case study. The study, which utilized Mapillary—Meta’s street-level imagery platform—assessed infrastructure, transport, design, and gender components of students’ journeys. It found that around half of students felt unsafe on the roads they use to go to school.

The study also found that:

  • Most children walk the entire distance to and from school, with an average journey length of slightly over one hour.
  • Students reported that the roads near the school did not have adequate speed control, and an independent speed assessment found the average speed of “boda-bodas” (minibuses) to be around 60 kph, well above the desired speed in a school area.
  • Poor and sometimes impassable road conditions often prevents students from attending school during the rainy season.
  • Dedicated pedestrian infrastructure was non-existent, with children often having to compete with motorized traffic for available space.
  • Risks associated with school journeys differed for girls and boys.

Next steps include studies of two additional schools to assess the specific challenges faced by children in urban areas; the development of an analysis and planning guidance tool to help school communities use the information; and the sharing of preliminary findings from the pilot with the national coordination team for the Safe Schools Program.

A key takeaway from the study was the need to increase coordination between the education and transport sectors to enhance education access. These studies could offer a blueprint for improving students’ school journeys in Tanzania and beyond.