Helping Children Experiencing Difficulties in Learning to Read Kiswahili: Perspectives of pre-primary teachers in Tanzania

Shukia Richard


The study sought to ascertain the beliefs held by pre-primary teachers about why some children experience difficulties in learning to read Kiswahili and how they can be helped. Knowing about teachers’ beliefs is a gateway to improving pre-primary reading instruction, the curriculum and learning to read early. The study was informed by the qualitative hermeneutic-phenomenology methodology, comprising 21 semi-structured interviews and 12 classroom observations. The findings reveal that although teachers were uncertain about what caused children’s learning difficulties they cited factors both internal and external to the child which were outside the teachers’ realm. Moreover, teachers believed in supplemental practices, parents’ involvement, retention, forming mixed-ability groups in class, focusing on the 3Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) and in-service teacher training as a ‘toolkit’ to help children who are finding learning to read difficult. The study recommends that teachers’ professional development programmes should be on-going and that a systematic diagnostic mechanism is established to identify children with learning difficulties.


Keywords: Teachers’ beliefs, finding learning to read difficult, pre-primary teachers

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