Exploring student participation in school governance in public secondary schools in Zanzibar : The case of Mkoani District
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professional Development Centre, Karachi
In spite of the policies to allow student participation in school governance in Zanzibar in an attempt to provide avenue for students to learn democratic values and principles, hardly anything was known about the practice on the ground. This study explored the practice and dynamics of, and the beliefs and attitudes about, student participation in school governance in public secondary schools in one district. The study employed a sequential mixed-method research design whereby quantitative data were collected through a survey questionnaire distributed to a sample of 560 participants from 21 schools. Quantitative data were analysed both descriptively and inferentially to determine frequencies, percentages, and correlations. On the basis of the findings from phase one two schools were selected for in-depth qualitative exploration through semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and document reviews. Qualitative data were later coded and categorized into themes.
The findings revealed that students participated in school governance through two key governance structures – student government and school committee. Besides, overwhelmingly, respondents held positive attitudes and beliefs about the practice of student participation in school governance and there were positive correlations between beliefs and attitudes and the student participation practices in school governance. The study also found that student participation is influenced by unbalanced power relations and socio-cultural beliefs and practices which favour adults at the expense of students. Other influencing factors were gender issues which disadvantaged girls, inadequate skills among students and limitations in, and the flouting of the policy guidelines in the process of student participation in school governance. Overall, the issues surrounding the practice of student participation in school governance appeared to impede the achievement of the main purpose of student participation in school governance of learning democratic principles and values.
On the basis of these findings, there is need to review the policies and to eliminate the policy-practice gap to provide equitable opportunities for student participation in school governance. In addition, concerted efforts through education are needed to equip students with essential skills for effective participation, and to reduce unfavourable gender and socio-cultural beliefs and practices. Further studies are recommended to explore in-depth the dynamics of gender relations, and the norms, assumptions, values, and traditions related to socio-cultural practices in the wider community in general and in schools in particular and come up with possible strategies to reduce imbalance and negative impact of gender relations and socio-cultural beliefs and practices in the practice of student participation in school governance. This study has created long overdue contextually knowledge and contributed to the world-wide debate in the field of student participation in school governance.
Abdalla, M. J. (2014). Exploring student participation in school governance in public secondary schools in Zanzibar : The case of Mkoani District (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.
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