Gender, Disability and Access to Education in Tanzania

Elly Macha

Basically this study is concerned to gain a fuller understanding of the struggle that Tanzanian visually impaired women have faced in gaining a place in school and obtaining an education, the benefits that they perceive an education to give them, the changes that they believe are necessary to improve their access and the content of the education they feel they should receive in order to ensure that they are able to realise their capabilities and contribute fully to their community and their society. It is anticipated that the way in which the identity of visually impaired women is socially constructed (drawing on both cultural understandings and other factors) has served to inhibit their access to education.

Therefore the main aim of the study is to examine the obstacles encountered by Tanzanian visually impaired women in accessing and gaining an education.

Entirely this empirical study is qualitative depending largely on primary data generated from visually impaired women in Dodoma and Tabora regions as key informants. It employs two methods of data generation namely interviews and documentary survey.

Interviews are the most reliable instrument for data generation in a qualitative research. It is described as:

“a conversation with a purpose” (Khan and Cannets, 1957:149). The reason for using interviews is build upon recognition that my participants are the best source for my data generation. Mason (1996: 39) argues that “… people’s knowledge views, understanding interpretations, experiences, and interactions are meaningful properties of the reality…” She further goes on to suggest that a legitimate way to generate data or these ontological properties is to interact with people, to talk to them, to listen to them, and to gain access to their accounts and articulations” (p. 39-40).

The analysis of documentary sources is another major method of social research, and one which many qualitative researchers see as meaningful and appropriate in the context of their research strategy” (Mason, 1996: 71). This technique will enable me to analyse educational policy documents, registers and school returns as a point of checklist for the enrolment and completion of visually impaired students at different levels of education.

Qualitative data analysis will be adopted in this study where by content analysis will be used in analysing various documents and descriptive analysis will be applied for data generated through interviews in which case the data will be coded, reduced or summarised and displayed (Miles and Huberman, 1984).

Qualitative data analysis is a search for general statements about relationship among categories of data; it builds grounded theory. It is the search among data to identify content for ethnographies and for participant’s “truths” (Strauss and Corbin 1997: Marshall and Rossman, 1999).