Centre for Gender Studies

Current events

Inclusions & exclusions in rural Tanzanian primary schools: material barriers, teacher agency & disability equality

Thursday 8 March 13:00 until 14:00
Essex House Seminar Room 18
Speaker: Jo Westbrook, Senior Lecturer in Education, University of Sussex
Part of the series: CIE Research Cafe

This event is hosted by the Centre for International Education (CIE).

This talk, based on a recent paper co-authored by Susie Miles and Alison Croft, considers the different ‘inclusions’ and ‘exclusions’ (Dyson 1999) that children with disabilities experience in Tanzanian mainstream primary schools. Their practice is framed by the very current international policy context around inclusion, championed by Sustainable Development Goal 4 and Article 24 on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). In interrogating the complex craft of developing inclusive and equal learning environments for children with disabilities, Jo 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 teachers’ practices are moving discernibly but unevenly towards disability equality and involve processes of inclusions and exclusions. This involves teacher autonomy, agency and reflective practice, alongside 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, Jo argues 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.


CIE Research Cafes take place every Thursday in term time in Essex House. Each Cafe is hosted by a guest speaker - from an affiliate organisation or from across the University. These events are open to all postgraduate taught and doctoral researchers across the University.

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By: Gunjan Wadhwa
Last updated: Thursday, 25 January 2018