Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Inclusions and Exclusions in Rural Tanzanian Primary Schools: Material Barriers, Teacher Agency and Disability Equality

Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 2935 | Downloads: 2354

Abstract:  This article begins with the assumption that the argument for the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream schools, championed by Sustainable Development Goal 4 and Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, has largely been accepted nationally and internationally by policy makers, and is increasingly being accepted by teachers. In interrogating the complex craft of developing inclusive and equal learning environments for children with disabilities, this article draws upon Kershner’s ‘core aspects of teachers’ knowledge and knowing’, and in particular, ‘the school as a site for the development of teaching expertise and the creation of knowledge’. Data is presented from in-depth interviews following videoed lesson observations with experienced teachers in 15 rural, urban and coastal primary schools in four districts in Tanzania. Findings indicate that the teachers’ practice is moving unevenly towards disability equality, and involves processes of inclusions and exclusions. This involves teacher autonomy, agency and reflective practice in the context of material, attitudinal, structural, pedagogic and curricular barriers. The teachers’ expertise has potential to inform national and international policy developments, and so reduce the evident rhetoric-reality gap. In conclusion, it is argued that inclusive education needs to grapple with disability as a social construct, and lessons are drawn for the further fulfilment of the rights of children with disabilities to equal participation in education.

Keywords:  disability; inclusive education; pedagogy; primary school; rights; Sustainable Development Goals; Tanzania



© Susie Miles, Jo Westbrook, Alison Croft. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.