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Prison education in Tanzania: An exploration of policy and practice

This study is one of very few research-based investigations regarding prison education in Tanzania. It provides rich data that help to address the literature gap on prison education policies and practices in African countries, particularly in Tanzania. With its major research question: Are current policy and practices adequately meeting the needs of prisoners? the study explored the adequacy of prison education policies and practices in the Tanzanian context. Three subsidiary questions were addressed: What constitutes governmental and institutional policies on prison education in Tanzania? What existing educational programmes are available in Tanzanian prisons for inmates? and, Do current practices adequately reflect the intention and substance of the policies? These questions helped me to obtain relevant information to address the major research question. This qualitative study, within an interpretivist paradigm, was conducted in Tanzania. Five prisons were involved in the study. The participants included inmates, teachers, prison staff, ex-inmates, a senior (retired) prison officer, an adult education officer, the IAE representatives, the OUT representative, the VETA tutor, an NGO representative, and an ex-student who shared the same National Examination centre with inmates. Data were mainly gathered through individual interviews, focus group interviews, observations, and document analysis. Themes and subthemes were inductively developed through thematic analysis. Three main themes generated from the analysis constituted the discussion of three findings chapters. Four main concepts – perspective transformation, total institutions, lifelong learning, and rehabilitation – were used to interpret and discuss the findings. The study suggests that Tanzania has yet to fully embrace prison education as part of liberal approaches to imprisonment. Individual prisons have different informal policies regarding prison education. The main governmental prison education policy of Tanzania – the Prison Education Guide – is not rooted in the laws of the country, implying that Tanzania has yet to fully comply with the 1999 Arusha Declaration on Good Prison Practice. The Prison Education Guide was interpreted differently in every prison. Many prisoners did not have access to educational programmes, suggesting a mismatch between policy (the Prison Education Guide) and practice. Literacy education, vocational training, and general education were the main educational programmes found. These programmes suffered from a lack of resources, accentuated by the shortage of funds. Accordingly, it is concluded that prison education is not adequately practised in Tanzania; the current policy and practises are not adequately meeting the needs of prisoners. The study proposes a set of recommendations to improve prison education.
Type of thesis
Msoroka, M. S. (2018). Prison education in Tanzania: An exploration of policy and practice (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12130
The University of Waikato
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