The Bottleneck in Engaging Pupils in Primary School Governance In Tanzania

Aneth A. Komba, Veronika Mpeta


This study attempts to provide answers to two research questions: (1) in practice, how are pupils engaged in public primary school governance; and (2) what challenges are faced by pupil councils in fostering school governance? The study employed a multiple case study design with a qualitative research methodology framework. The purposive sampling technique was used to select a sample of 130 respondents. Data were collected through interviews and documentary review. The data were analysed using Miles and Huberman’s model (1994) of qualitative data analysis. The study found the following. Firstly, the law explicitly states that pupils should be involved in school governance through pupil councils and indicates how this should be done.  Secondly, pupil councils exist in schools, but they do not conform to the guidelines for their development and play only a peripheral role in schools’ governance. In addition, pupil councils face challenges associated with the failure to implement decisions, the hatred of teachers and fellow pupils, inadequate time for meetings and irresponsibility on the part of the school management in responding to pupil councils’ suggestions.  Based on these findings, the study provides a number of recommendations, one being that, since the government is committed to promoting and protecting children’s rights, it is now high time to implement this commitment and ensure that pupils are provided with an opportunity to engage fully in school governance as a means of expressing their opinions about all matters that affect their school life.


Keywords: Pupil councils, School governance, Tanzania

Full Text:



Ainley, J., & McKenzie, P. (2000). School governance: Research on educational and management issues. International Education Journal, 1(3), 139-151.

Baginsky, M., &Hannam, D. (1999). School councils: The views of students and teachers. London: NSPCC.

Carter, C., Harber, C., & Serf, J. (2003). Towards ubuntu: Critical teacher education for democratic citizenship in South Africa. Birmingham: Development Education Centre.

Cotmore, R. (2003). Organizational competence: The study of a school council in action. Children & Society, 18, 53-65.

Dachi, H.A., Alphonce, N.R., Kahangwa, G., Boniphace, R., & Moshi, M. (2010). Leadership and management of change for quality improvement: Baseline study in selected districts of Tanzania mainland. EdQual working paper No. 21. University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Deuchar, R. (2004). Reconciling self – interest and ethics: The role of primary school pupil councils. Retrieved from

DNCO [Dublin National Children’s Office] (2006). Second-level student councils resource pack: It’s your choice use your voice. Dublin: Brunswick Press. Retrieved from

Dobie, T. (1998). Pupil councils in primary and secondary schools. D. Christie., H. Maitles., & J. Halliday (Eds.), Value education for democracy and citizenship. Glasgow: Gordon Cook Foundation/University of Strathclyde.

Harber, C. (1989). Politics in African education. London: MacMillan Publishers.

HASAS [Having a Say at School] (2010). Research on pupil councils in Scotland: Pupil council ‘effectiveness’ part two, outcomes. Research briefings paper 5. Scotland: The University of Edinburgh.

Hudson, A. (2005). Citizenship education and students’ identities: A school based action research project. In A. Osler (Ed.). Teachers, human rights, and diversity. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books.

Johnson, K, (2004). Children’s Voices: Pupil leadership in primary schools. International Research Associate Perspective. National College for School Leadership, South Australia.

Lewis, M. (2009). Governance in education: Raising performance. University of Sussex and World Bank.

Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) (2002). Education for citizenship in Scotland: A paper for discussion and development. Dundee: LT Scotland.

Makongo, J., &Rajan, R. (2003). The power of information for school governance: The Hakielimu experience. Hakielimu working paper series No.2003.1. Retrieved from

Mascarenhas, O., & Sigalla, H. (2010). Poverty and the rights of children at household level: Findings from Same and Kisarawe districts, Tanzania. Research report 10/3, Dar es Salaam: REPOA.

Miles, M. & Hubermans, M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis. London: Sage Publications.

Mncube, V. (2008). Democratization of education in South Africa: Issues of social justice and the voice of learners. South Africa Journal of Education, 28, 77-90.

Mosha, H. J. (2006). Planning education systems for excellence. Dar es Salaam: E&D Limited.

Sifuna, D.N. (2000). Education for democracy and human rights in African schools: The Kenyan experience. Africa Development XXV, (1&2), 213-239.

Starkey, H. (1987). Teaching and learning about human rights in secondary schools: European teachers’ seminar. Portugal, Carcavelos: Taylor & Francis Ltd.

Taylor, M. J., & Johnson, R. (2002). School councils: Their role in citizenship and personal and social education. Berkshires: NFER.

URT (2001). Education sector development program: Primary education development plan 2002-2006. Dar es Salaam: Basic Education Development Committee (BEDC).

URT (2003). Strengthening institutional arrangements: Education sector development program, primary education development plan. Edited in April, 2003. Dar es Salaam: BEDC.

UNHR [United Nations Human Right] (1988) Convention on the Rights of the Child retrieved from

Wyness, M. (2005). Regulating participation: The possibilities and limits of children and young people’s councils. Journal of Social Sciences Special Issue, 9, 7-18.


  • There are currently no refbacks.