Academic journal article International Journal of Education

The Predicament of Inclusive Education and the Realities of Practice in Tanzania after Two Decades of Education for All

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

The Predicament of Inclusive Education and the Realities of Practice in Tanzania after Two Decades of Education for All

Article excerpt


Tanzania has been implementing several educational development plans and programmes at primary and secondary education levels. These plans and programmes aim at realizing the goal of education for all and therefore making primary education and ordinary secondary education universal. The implementation of these plans and programmes reflects a substantial need for educators and professionals in special education who can be able to handle pupils in inclusive and special classrooms and schools. The aim of the present study was to explore the participants' motives for participating in a B.Ed. Special Education programme and the perceived outcomes of the programme in terms of professional development. The study focused on two core issues: motives and perceived outcomes. A case study approach was adopted. Questionnaires and interviews were administered in three phases between January 2007 and February 2009 to a group of 35 educators participating in a B.Ed. Special Education programme.

Findings of the study revealed that participants expressed a number of motives and outcomes related to job, degree and career, student and community support, and personal growth. The findings further confirm that the participants' motives and outcomes were closely related. The findings serve as a starting point for discussing the phenomenon of professional development in special education in Tanzania. Furthermore, the study findings underline that the motives for participating in the programme were complex, interactive and dynamic, thus emphasis on a singular explanation is naïve and insufficient.

Keywords: inclusive education; special education; professional development; case study; Tanzania

1. Introduction

The commitment to provide primary education to every child is the oldest of the Millennium Development Goals, having been set at the first Education for All conference in Jomtien, Thailand more than 20 years ago. There are today several primary and secondary schools in Tanzania that are involved in inclusive education programmes. The significance of inclusive education has been recognized at the educational policy level in Tanzania. The government of the United Republic of Tanzania has been committed to Universal Primary Education since 1977 when enrolment rates reached 95%, but the economic hardship of the 1980s eroded these gains. In response to the economic problems, the Government introduced cost-sharing measures, froze recruitment of teachers and reduced overall spending on education. These measures led to a shortage of teaching and learning materials, non-maintenance of school infrastructure, discontinued classroom construction, as well as a shortage of teachers. These effects resulted in low enrolment, high dropout rates, low performance at national examinations, dilapidated buildings, an uncomfortable learning environment and a decline in completion rates. The Education Act No. 25 of 1978 made primary education compulsory though not free (Okkolin, Lehtomäki & Bhalalusesa, 2010).

The projected population in Tanzania for the 2012 Population and Housing Census conducted in August 2012 was 45 million people (URT, 2012). There are an estimated four million people living with disabilities in Tanzania(Note 1). What does it mean in terms of education provision for persons with disabilities? The growing population suggests more expansion in school enrolment and facilities for persons with disabilities. This has also implications on teacher deployment and further development.

Primary schools and secondary schools accommodating pupils with disabilities in Tanzania face many challenges. Most of the classrooms are crowded with large number of pupils. The classrooms have poor conditions with an acute shortage of furniture. On average about five pupils share one desk, and majority of the pupils sitting on the floor. Most schools especially in the rural areas are understaffed. The pupil qualified teacher ratio (PQTR) is high. …

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