Exploring possibilities for contextualizing primary school education in rural Tanzania following a participatory action research approach

Athman Kyaruzi Ahmad

Lecturer, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania

Sigrid Marie Gjøtterud

Associate Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Section for Learning and Teacher Education

Erling Krogh

Associate Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Section for Learning and Teacher Education

Abstract

In this paper, we reflect upon and discuss experiences from a participatory action research project aimed at facilitating local processes oriented towards better integration of everyday experiences in learning at a Primary School in rural Tanzania. We discuss the need for such initiatives for improved teaching practice in light of a rapid growth in population and a failing education system. Though we struggled with contextual and structural challenges, the processes of the project resulted in improvement of the learning environment and in stakeholders’ belief in their own ability to change the situation, despite the harsh conditions they live in. In the common struggle our horizons met and expanded. Thus, we developed an understanding that deep knowledge about local cultural and sociopolitical conditions, as well as awareness of and sensitivity to contextual issues, flexibility, alertness and attention are crucial attributes for facilitation of demanding participatory action research projects. We believe the example created from one local school and area, may serve as inspiration for teacher education in Tanzania and hence contribute to change on a larger scale.

Keywords:  action research, contextualization, primary education, relevant learning, community engagement

 

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