Physical education policy and practice Issues and controversies in Tanzania secondary schools

University dissertation from Växjö : Linnaeus University Press

Abstract: Schools’ decisions to offer Physical Education (PE) is among the possible ways of involving students in physical activity, which has significant effects on students’ health, lifelong participation in physical activities and participation in sport. This thesis explores the factors and the ways they influence secondary schools’ decisions on whether or not to offer PE in Tanzania. The study is based on Institutional Theory, and on a social constructivist approach to knowledge generation, employing qualitative research methods, such as document analysis and interviews with different actors within and related to secondary schools.The study areas and the participants were purposefully sampled and included heads of school boards, heads of schools, PE teachers, parents and students. Document reviews were used in order to gather information concerning the regulative and normative conditions that govern schools. Four schools were more carefully studied – two that offer and two that do not offer PE. In these schools I focused on cultural conditions and local frames that could influence schools’ decisions.The findings indicate a number of factors which influence schools’ decisions whether or not to offer PE. Some of these factors are the availability of teaching and learning logistics, including facilities, equipment, qualified PE teachers, text books and teaching hours for the subject. Furthermore, the contribution of the examination for promotion purposes, the pen and paper examinations, the prioritization of other programmes and subjects, reliable support for the subject and the interest of those empowered to make decisions at school level also influence schools’ decisions concerning offering the subject.On the basis of the theory used in this study, to enable schools to make decisions favouring the offering of PE, there need to be consistency among the regulations and the normative and cultural-cognitive aspects of the institution. First, the regulative conditions are those that legalize the subject by forming the basis for schools’ decisions to offer the subject; these include governing and monitoring organs. Second, the normative conditions stipulate the logic of appropriateness for how the teaching should be approached; these include various normative directives, such as the curriculum and the syllabus. Finally, the cultural-cognitive conditions exert an influence on schools’ decisions through various perceptions held about the subject within the community.The thesis concludes with some implications of the study, indicating what changes will be needed concerning both the general institutional level and the school level.

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