Faculty Advisor

Christoph, Julie

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2011


This paper examines women’s literacy perceptions and practices to better understand why women’s literacy rates in Tanzania have declined in the past couple of decades. To assess Tanzanian women’s literacy practices and perceptions my paper examines answers from 38 female respondents on Julie Christoph’s 2011 survey in Zanzibar that is designed to represent Tanzanian women’s attitudes and practices more generally. To supplement emerging trends from the survey, my paper adds responses from women derived from a survey I conducted in Zanzibar this summer at Zanzibar State University. The results from the surveys suggest that women literacy learners are discouraged in developing and maintaining literacy because they are buying into the government’s autonomous literacy model, which implicates the individual role in literacy sponsorship in a way that leaves out support and accountability among community members and families. The outcome of women perceiving literacy in this way is that other supporting structures for literacy sponsorship, such as community literacy circles are undervalued. The wider implication of autonomous literacy learners and practices is that literacy is not applied towards UNESCO and government development goals. My paper suggests that if the government is trying to encourage women to obtain and maintain their literacy in a community, centered way and use literacy in ways that have community development in mind it would be wise to reflect upon lessons from Tanzania’s initial literacy campaign, which holds the value of community and collaboration in higher regards.


University of Puget Sound