Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Andrew Allen


Educational Equity and Equality, Marginality, Poverty, Stigmatization, Vulnerability, Vulnerable Children



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


The number of vulnerable children in Tanzania is on the rise. For the purpose of this study, the concept of vulnerable children refers to those who are under18 whose life is in jeopardy due to socio-economic factors such as: abject poverty, orphanhood, and child abandonment, among others. Although vulnerability is known to have deleterious impacts on students' learning, studies conducted in Tanzanian schools on the issue of vulnerable children's education are scarce. Consequently, this research sought to: (a) examine vulnerable children's school experiences in Singida from the perspective of educators and vulnerable children alike; (b) explore challenges facing educators who strive to meet vulnerable children's academic needs; and (c) investigate strategies that teachers and schools can implement to support and scaffold vulnerable children's learning and improve quality of education. The study employed a qualitative research methodology and critical ethnographic approach. Participants were drawn from 5 schools and a centre for orphaned and vulnerable children located in Singida region, Tanzania, and included 5 school principals, 45 teachers, and 26 children. Data was collected via participatory observations, in-depth individual interviews, focus group discussions and questionnaires. The results of this study indicated that the vulnerable children in Singida who participated in this study generally experienced schools as a stumbling block. Recommendations are made for urgent intervention by government leaders, policy makers and educators to support the schools through improved work conditions, enhanced school leadership and pedagogy, teacher development programs, collective ownership of the problem and commitment to ensuring improved school experiences for vulnerable children.