Spiritual Development in Early Years: Investigating Parental Practices of Ismaili Muslim Religious Education Centres in Dar es Salaam Tanzania

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Geoff Tennant

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Anjum Halai


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


This study reports the practices of Ismaili Muslim parents of the religious education centres in Dar es Salaam Tanzania for spiritual development of young children. A qualitative rapid ethnographic study was designed to answer the principal research question, ‘What are the practices and challenges faced by parents in realizing the practice of faith as part of children’s everyday life?’ A sample of 8 parents and 6 grandparents of children 3-6 years of age, along with 11 religion teachers from the 2 religious education centres were selected. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews of parents and grandparents, and two focus group discussions with religion teachers, with also a count of attendance at the evening prayers at 2 Jamat Khana (worship places) for one week each. The main data obtained was analysed qualitatively by eliciting major themes coming from the study. Key findings include that parents understand their importance in promoting young children’s spiritual development. However, in general they did not give adequate time for this. Parents stressed the importance of secular education in the early years and considered that practice of faith could be picked up by children themselves in future. Grandparents and religious education institutions in this study were found to be the driving force to support spiritual development of young children, expressing reservations about the lack of involvement of parents themselves. The study recommends that religious education institutions should develop policies and programmes to prepare parents in promoting spiritual development in young children. Weekly practical classes in prayer and rituals for young children are suggested. Furthermore it is recommended that grandparents should be inducted as volunteers in the religious education of young children in teaching, sessional activities, resource development and holding practical classes.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library