The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) has been conducting Examinations since 1964. Initially the MoEVT was only responsible for the Standard VIII Examinations to determine which students would progress to secondary level, and the Cambridge School Examinations were used at the secondary level. The East African Examinations Council was responsible for administering the entrance Examinations for advanced secondary level. This changed in 1969 with the introduction of the Form II Examinations, which was used to select students who join Form III after completing the first circle of secondary school, this system existed until 1972. From 1973 students who selected to join first circle of secondary school they sat Examinations to complete that level of study in Form three.

In 1970 Zanzibar decided to pull out of the East African Examinations Council and start a local Examinations board in collaboration with Tanzania Mainland. This led to the establishment of the National Examinations Council of Tanzania in 1971. Today the National Examinations Council of Tanzania is responsible for the Form IV and Form VI Examinations, while the Zanzibar Examinations Council (ZEC), established by Act no. 6 of 2012, has been founded to administer the Standard VII, Form II and teacher education Examinations at college level. ZEC is a semi-autonomous body and its establishment marks a real commitment to improve the standard of Examinations in Zanzibar.


Examinations are central to the functioning of the education system. They provide a means of certifying student learning achievement; monitoring student progress; determining student readiness to move to higher educational levels; motivating students through the provision of goals; judging instructional effectiveness and curricular adequacy; measuring the performance of the education system; assessing the effectiveness of schools; evaluating the impact of government interventions and guiding policy formation and decision-making. Given this, ZEC has a commitment to develop high-quality Examinations which:

  • Provide an accurate reflection of student learning achievement and determine whether students have attained intended learning objectives proclaimed, in the World Declaration in Education for All, acquired ‘useful knowledge, reasoning ability, skills and values’ (UNESCO, 1990).
  • Provide a motivating influence for students and teachers, in particular encouraging the development of teaching and learning systems geared towards promoting underlying understanding as opposed to rote learning.
  • Provide a universal standard to judge performance against at the individual, school, district and national level.

The quality of Examinations in Zanzibar is dependent upon the ability of the Zanzibar Examinations Council (ZEC) to develop and administer Examinations. Currently ZEC is a fledgling organization and there is limited capacity to run an effective high-quality Examinations system. A strategic plan is therefore required to guide ZEC’s development, evaluate its action plans over the next three years and ensure the emergence of a strong and comprehensive assessment system.