Elimination of School Fees and Parental Contributions in Tanzania: Implications on Parental and Community Commitment to Support Primary School Activities in Songea Municipality, Tanzania
Keywords:Parental participation, community participation, school activities, fee-free education, school fees
AbstractThis study explored the impacts of eliminating school fees and parental contributions on parental and community participation in primary school activities. The study was guided by two research questions: (1) what is the impact of eliminating school fees and parental contributions in primary schools on parental and community participation in school related activities?(2) How do parents view their participation in primary school activities in the context of fee-free education? The study was mainly qualitative and employed a multiple holistic case study design. A total of 31 participants were involved. The participants included teachers, heads of schools, parents, and Ward Education Officer. Data were collected through interviews, FGDs, and documentary reviews. Themes and subthemes were inductively developed through thematic analysis. The study suggests that, due to poor perception of the policy, the implementation of FFEP resulted in a significant reduction of parental participation in school activities. Most parents thought that the government was responsible for everything. The study also found that parents had mixed feelings regarding their participation in primary school activities in the context of FFEP. However, most of them thought that FFEP had provided them with a room to escape from contributions and other school responsibilities. The study recommends that strategic measures should be taken to educate parents on FFEP. Also, the government should find a way to restrict too many contributions which may lead to parents’ negative attitude towards FFEP. Likewise, there is a need to improve the existing policy so as to plug loop holes that discourage parental participation in school activities.