The Influence of Parental Support on Child’s Learning of Literacy in Tanzania

Juma Chahe, Mpoki Mwaikokesya


In the past few years, the Tanzanian government has made several commitments and efforts to improve the provision of basic literacy and numeracy skills the country by executing various programmes, including the Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP), under which primary school teachers were trained on how to teach numeracy and literacy. The government’s emphasis on literacy has also been evident in the country’s crucial policy documents particularly the Education and Training Policy (ETP, 1995, 2014), which clearly states in one of its objectives to enable every child to acquire basic learning basic literacy and numeracy skills. Despite various efforts and initiatives executed over the years, aimed at laying a solid foundation of literacy skills for children aged between five and 13, little seem to have been done in harnessing the potentials of parents and families support in teaching of literacy and numeracy. In fact, there is evidence that there are still many children without proper numeracy and literacy skills. Yet, there also seem to be limited empirical studies in the context of Tanzania focusing on examining innovative ways for engaging parents in supporting child’s acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills, including exploring the factors that could effectively foster the parents’ contributions towards their children’s acquisition of literacy skills and the inhibiting factors. This study attempts to understand the contribution of parents to supporting their children’s acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills in Tanzania’s primary education.

Key words: literacy, parents’ engagement, numeracy skills, parental support

Full Text:



Adekola, O. A. (2007). Language, literacy and learning in primary schools: Implications for teacher development programs in Nigeria, (No. 96). Washington DC: World Bank Publications.

Alleyne, C. (2005). Early literacy development: A focus on preschool. New York: State Department of Education, Bureau of Early Childhood Education.

American Psychology Association (2015). Education and socio-economic status. Washington, DC. Retrieved from

Bardige, B. S., & Segal, M. M. (2005). Building literacy with love: A guide for teachers and caregivers of children birth through age 5, Washington: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families.

Borkowski, J. G., Ramey, S. L., & Power, M. B. (2009). Parenting and the child’s world: influences on academic, intellectual and social-emotional development, Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Brown, A. L., & Campione, J. C. (1996). Psychological theory and the design of innovative learning environments: On procedures, principles, and systems, In L. Schauble & R. Glaser (Eds.), Innovations in learning: New environments for education (pp. 289-325). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Close, R. (2001). Parental involvement and literacy achievement: The research evidence and the way forward. London: National Literacy Trust.

Cunningham, B. M. (2008). Using action research to improve learning and the classroom learning environment. Issues in Accounting Education, 23(1), 1- 30.

Dearing, E., Kreider, H., Simpkins, S., & Weiss, H. B. (2006). Family involvement in school and low-income children's literacy: Longitudinal associations between and within families, Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(4), 653-664.

Emmerson, L., Fear, J., Fox, S., & Sanders, E. (2012). Parental engagement in learning and schooling: Lessons from research, A report by the Australian research alliance for children and youth for the family-school and community, Canberra: Family-School and Community Partnership Bureau.

Epstein, J. L. (1995). School/family/community partnerships: Caring for the children we share, Phi Delta Kappan, 76(9), 701-712.

Gadsden, V., & Ray, A. (2003). fathers' role in children's academic achievement and early literacy, Eric Digest, 217, 1333-1386.

Gaitan, C. D. (2013). Literacy for Empowerment: the role of parents in children’s education. London: Routledge.

Glasgow, N. A., & Farrell, T.S.C. (2007). What successful literacy teachers do: Research-based strategies for teachers, reading coaches, and instructional planners, New York: Sage.

Gomby, D. (2012). Family literacy and home visiting programmes. Wasik, B. (Ed), Handbook of Family Literacy, 113 -117.

Hannon, P. (2013). Literacy, Home and School: Research and practice in teaching literacy with parents. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Hartas, D. (2011). Families social backgrounds matter: Socio-economic factors, home learning and young children’s language, literacy and social outcomes. British Educational Research Journal, 37(6), 893-914.

Heath, S. M., Bishop, D. V., Bloor, K. E., Boyle, G. L., Fletcher, J., Hogben, J. H., & Yeong, S. H. (2014). A spotlight on preschool: The influence of family factors on children’s early literacy skills. PloS One, 9(4), 1-14.

Jensen, E. (2009). Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What being poor does to kid’s brain and What Schools can do about it. Virginia: ASCD.

Jung, L. (2010). Identifying family supports and other resources. R. A. McWilliam (Ed), Working with Families of Young Children with Special Needs, New York: The Guilford Press, 9-26.

Kitunga, D. (2011). Baseline survey on the status of literacy skills in primary schools in Kongwa and Bagamoyo Tanzania for Children’s Book Project, Retrieved from

Makin,L & Whitehead, M. (2003). How to develop children's early literacy: A guide for professional careers and educators. London: Sage.

Marks, G. N., McMillan, J., Jones, F. L., & Ainley, J. (2000). The measurement of socioeconomic status for the reporting of nationally comparable outcomes of schooling. National education performance monitoring taskforce, Australian Council for Educational Research and Sociology Program. Retrieved from www.mceecdyaedu. au/verve/_resources/socio economicstatus_file.pdf.

McBride, C. (2016). Children's literacy development: A cross-cultural perspective on learning to read and write (2nd Ed.). London: Routledge.

Mielonen, A. M., & Peterson, W. (2009). Developing literacy through play. Journal of Inquiry & Action in Education, 3(1), 15-46.

Ministry of Education and Culture. (1995). Education and training policy. Dar es Salaam: MoEVT.

Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. (2014). Education and training policy. Dar es Salaam: MoEVT.

Myoungsoon, K., & Heekyoung, K. (2002). The differences in attitudes toward emergent literacy of children among teachers, mothers and fathers in kindergartens and daycare center in Korea. Reading Improvement Educational Journal, 39(3), 124-148.

Naidoo. U., Reddy. K., & Dorasamy. N. (2014).Reading literacy in primary schools in South Africa: Educator perspectives on factors affecting reading literacy and strategies for improvement. International Journal of Educational Science, 7(1), 155-167.

Ngorosho, D. (2011). Literacy Skills of Kiswahili Speaking Children in Rural Tanzania: The role of home environment. Unpublished Ph.D Dissertation. Vasa: Abo Akademi University.

Paez. M. M., Tabors. O. P., & Lopez. M. L. (2007). Dual language and literacy development of Spanish-speaking preschool children, Journal of Applied Development Psychology, 28(2), 85–102.

Reder, S. (2010). Adult Literacy Development and Economic Growth. Adult Literacy Development and Economic Growth. Washington DC: National Institute for Literacy.

Reardon. S. F., Valentino. R. A., & Shores. K. A. (2012). Patterns of Literacy among U.S. Students. Future of Children, 22( 2), 17-38.

SACMEQ (2005). A study of the conditions of schooling and the quality of primary education in Tanzania, The SACMEC III Project Report, Dar es Salaam: Ministry of Education and Culture.

Saracho, O. N. (2004). Supporting literacy-related play: roles for teachers of young children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 31(3), 203–208.

Sénéchal, M. (2012). Child Language and Literacy Development at home. In: Wasik, B. (Ed) Handbook of Family Literacy (pp. 23-37). London: Routledge.

Sirin, S. R. (2005). Socioeconomic status and academic achievement: A meta-analytic review of research. Review of Educational Research, 75(3), 417-453.

Sprick, B. & Rich, M. (2010). Proposal to Strengthen Family and Community Engagement within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Chicago: Appleseed Fund for Justice.

Thompson, R. J., Bakken. P. J., Fulk. M. B. & Peterson. G. (2004). Using technology to improve the literacy skills of students with disability. Naperville: Learning point associates.

Thomson, S., De Bortoli, L., & Buckley, S. (2013). PISA 2012: How Australia measures up: the PISA 2012 assessment of students' mathematical, scientific and reading literacy. Sydney: Australian Council for Educational Research Ltd.

Topora,D., Keaneb, S., Sheltonb,T., and Calkinsb, S. (2010). Parent involvement and student academic performance: A multiple mediational analysis. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 38(3): 183–197.

UWEZO. (2012). Are our children learning? Literacy and numeracy across East Africa. Nairobi: UWEZO & Hivos/Twaweza.

UWEZO (2013). Are our children learning? Annual learning assessment report 2012. Nairobi: UWEZO & Hivos/Twaweza.

Waldfogel, J. (2012). The role of out-of-school factors in the literacy problem. Literacy Challenges for the Twenty-First Century, 22 (2), 39-54. doi: 102307/23317410.

White. H. (2005). Developing literacy skills in the early years: A practical guide. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.


  • There are currently no refbacks.