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Post Ujamaa School-community Connectedness in Tanzania: Exploring Learning Communities in Rural Areas Open Access


Other title
School-community connectedness
Learning communities
Rural education
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Ngalawa, Athanas A
Supervisor and department
Simmt, Elaine (Secondary Education)
Glanfield, Florence (Secondary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Parkins, John (Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology)
Donald, Dwayne (Secondary Education)
Gray, Jan (Edith Cowan University)
Wiltse, Lynne (Elementary Education)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This study explores how do schools and communities work together to generate learning communities. One community case in remote rural areas of Tanzania was selected for the study. The community was selected on the criterion that it showed hopeful practices of school-community connectedness and of learning communities despite macro socio-political changes in Tanzania from liberal oriented policies in the 1960s to ujamaa (familyhood) in the 1970s, and back to liberal oriented policies from the 1990s to date. Perspectives of community members on the subject matter were qualitatively studied using a community capabilities framework (CCF) adopted from Emery & Flora (2006). Interviews were conducted with one district education officer, one ward education coordinator, one head of school, 14 teachers, and 15 community members. Data collected from interviews was triangulated by holding two separate focus group discussions for 19 community members and using documentary review and observations in the community. All forms of data were analyzed using transformative learning and social capital theories. Results suggest that the observed promising school-community connectedness and learning communities were a function of home-grown innovations of improving teaching and learning. The innovations led to promising school outputs measured by the country wide Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) which in turn strengthened and sustained the collaboration between teachers, parents, and students. The collaboration was made possible by mutual trust, commitment, accountability, and responsibility amongst teachers, students, and parents; supported by locally innovated incentive system and mentorship; and monitoring through communication, transparency, and participation. Analysis further showed good leadership within the community and the school, along with internalized school and community values, norms, and rules which put education as a priority were the catalysts of the innovations and collaboration. Further, systemic operationalization of agreed values, norms, and rules, coupled with a record of successes in achieving community-based innovations over time in aspects of life other than education, allowed community members and teachers to engage in critical reflection about the school and education of children, thereof maintaining school-community reciprocity and ultimately promising school-community connectedness. The study concludes that whereas teachers as professionals play a significant role in generating professional learning communities, under good community leadership learning communities can organically be generated from the community members and influence teachers’ and students’ professional learning which will in turn further the connectedness and learning communities. The study recommends for more studies in other rural communities of Tanzania and other poor countries. In addition, the study recommends for studies that shall take aboard perspectives of more stakeholders–such as students–to enrich our understanding about learning communities and school-community connectedness, and the subsequent implementable strategies to emulate promising school community practices as a way out of poor school performances and rural poverty in poor countries.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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