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

  • Author / Creator
    Ngalawa, Athanas A
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2015-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3PN8XP75
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. 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.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Secondary Education
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Glanfield, Florence (Secondary Education)
    • Simmt, Elaine (Secondary Education)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Donald, Dwayne (Secondary Education)
    • Parkins, John (Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology)
    • Gray, Jan (Edith Cowan University)
    • Wiltse, Lynne (Elementary Education)