There are numerous barriers to inclusive education in Tanzania, at the national, community and school levels. While the lack of basic resources is a problem, attitudes are also barriers to participation and learning.
Researchers from the University of Dar es Salaam and the Tanzanian Education Network, with help from University of Bristol, in the UK, are developing an index for educational inclusion in the country. Through a participatory action research (PAR) project, they are investigating how schools can be supported in developing more inclusive school cultures and practices.
Eight primary schools in two districts in Dar es Salaam are part of this research. They are working on ways to include all learners in the community and improve the quality of education.
Often, the term ‘inclusion’ is limited to the inclusion of disabled pupils, as is the case with the participating schools. The project, however, sees inclusion as including all peoples regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, gender, language, socio-economic status and any aspect of an individual’s identity that might be seen as ‘different’.
The first four steps of the PAR have been completed:
- identifying barriers to participation and learning
- the participating schools grouping these barriers into five categories: infrastructure, classroom learning environment, health, water and sanitation, and negative community or cultural practices
- prioritising which barriers have to be tackled first: infrastructure was highest on the list of priorities, followed by books supply, identifying children with special needs and those living with HIV and AIDS
- developing school plans to develop more inclusive cultures.
The forthcoming steps of the PAR include: an evaluation of the effectiveness of school development plans, and drafting a local index of inclusive schooling to be used in the following phase of the project, which will be disseminated to other schools in Tanzania later.
Faculty of Education,
Room 421, Runme Shaw Building,
University of Hong Kong Pokfulam,
Hong Kong SAR, China
The first two years of this project is funded by the Research Programme Consortium on Implementing Education Quality in Low Income Countries (EdQual), UK Department for International Development.