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The decentralization policy for education in Tanzania: The impact on primary head teachers and their instructional and managerial roles Open Access


Other title
Decentralization by devolution
Global governance
Colonization of policy space
Community engagement
Primary head teachers' experiences of decentralization
Decolonization and contextualization
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Rwiza, Grace
Supervisor and department
Shultz, A. Lynette (Educational Policy Studies), University of Alberta
Glanfield, A. Florence (Secondary Education), University of Alberta
Abdi, A. Ali (Educational Studies), University of British Columbia
Examining committee member and department
Wimmer, J. Randolph (Educational Policy Studies), University of Alberta
Krogman, T. Naomi (Resource Economics and Enviromental Sociology), University of Alberta
Assié-Lumumba, N'Dri (University of Cornell)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Educational Administration and Leadership
Date accepted
Graduation date
2016-06:Fall 2016
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
For several decades, decentralization has been included in most educational reforms, particularly those developed after the economic crisis of the 1970s and 1980s. This study explores the impact of the decentralization policy for education on Tanzanian primary school head teachers and their instructional and managerial roles. Utilizing Political Discourse Analysis and decolonizing theories’ conceptual framework, this study unpacks the power relations and rationales for policy development and implementation, which eventually framed the head teachers’ practices. A qualitative case study and Political Discourse Analysis are used to examine the policies and practices of head teachers in the decentralization context and to address the ways in which policy development and implementation are contingent on colonial power relations through globalization, neoliberalism and neo-colonialism. The research methods included the observation of the study participants and semi-structured interviews conducted in schools with head teachers. In order to obtain additional information, deputy principals, council education officers, and policy makers were also interviewed regarding principals’ experiences in managing their roles. The research findings reveal that the mismatch between the decentralization policy and the local context is undermining the principals’ managerial efforts. This policy is an outcome of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s Structural Adjustment Programs; thus, the policy’s external orientation does not correspond with the local contextual realities, particularly their social and professional requirements. The policy’s neoliberal framework requires head teachers to respond to a multitude of stakeholders’ needs and demands that are increasing the head teachers’ workloads and limiting their efficiency and their ability to address the needs of their students. Also, because of centralization and interference, the principals do not have enough autonomy to make constructive innovations. The interviews also revealed that, in Tanzania, community support for schools varies because of either poverty or the communities’ many other obligations. This problem, coupled with insufficient government support in terms of financial, human and material resources, limits the head teachers’ ability to increase the quality and efficiency of their school management. These findings suggest that, in order to eliminate the colonial residues in policy and practice, the process must be decolonized, freed from market influences, and contextualized. Thus, the process must be aligned with the relevant institutional arrangements and power relations, including sustainable mechanisms for supporting schools.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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