Lived experiences of lower secondary school students in learning mathematics in English; a phenomenological study of ward secondary schools in Ukerewe district, Tanzania.

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Peter Kajoro

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Angelina Bijura


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


During this era of globalization where the world is like a village, preparation of competent, efficient and competitive graduates is inevitable. Language of instruction is highly regarded as an important factor in the learning process globally and Tanzania in particular. Language, without doubt, plays a pivotal role in facilitating the process of acquisition of knowledge, skills and values by the learners. This study explored the lived experiences of the lower secondary school students’ in learning mathematics in English in ward secondary school in Tanzania. The study used qualitative approach, whereby a phenomenological design was adopted. The study employed two methods for data collection including interviews and focus group discussion. Interpretative phenomenological data analysis technique was used to analyse data; transcribed data were used to generate coding method. At the end, codes were categorized which helped to develop themes of this study. Study findings revealed that, lower secondary school learners’ experiences serious difficulties as they switch to English in secondary schools. Finally, the themes generated to describe the lived experiences of the lower secondary school students in learning mathematics in English including; Learning meaninglessness; Groping in darkness; Cramming and recitation as a mode of learning; Ineffective involvement in learning; Effort-product imbalance; English forever and ever for academic life ; Scratching the surface and laboured learning progress. These described lived experiences of the learners pointed out that more effort is needed to address the challenges facing the learners to learn without knowing the language of instruction. This study therefore recommend that, collaborative efforts be put in place by the government and other education stakeholders including the teachers, learners and the parents to give significant support in addressing the prevailing challenges that the learners experiences as they switch to English.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library