The origins of the Aga Khan schools in Tanzania go back to the 19th century when a girls' school was started by the Ismaili community in Zanzibar under the guidance of the present Aga Khan’s grandfather and predecessor, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan.
By 1954 there were over 50 schools throughout Tanzania. Premises were generally custom-built and included laboratories, libraries and playgrounds. Although initially mainly patronized by Ismailis, the schools were the first to open their doors to people of all races and faiths. In pre-independence East Africa, the phenomenon was not merely innovative, it was little short of original.
In Tanzania, all aspects of educational activities of non-Governmental schools, other than their land and buildings, were nationalised in 1967. This did not effect the pre-school nurseries, which continued to operate under the control of the Aga Khan Education Service.
The Aga Khan Mzizima Secondary School was built in 1967 in response to the closure of the schools. It was the first private secondary school to be established in Tanzania after the Arusha Declaration. AKMSS has, since the 1980s, been at the forefront of educational innovation in Dar es Salaam and was one of the first schools to introduce inquiry-based learning methodologies and to integrate IT into all aspects of school life.
In 1993 the Aga Khan Primary School in Dar es Salaam opened and became the first English-medium primary school for local students in the country.