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Organize or die: Exploring the political and organizational activities of the Tanzania Teacher Union

Fulgence S. S Swai, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation explores the political and organizational activities of the Tanzania Teacher Union (TTU). This study attempts to find an organizational model for teacher unions in Africa that will increase their ability to influence policies, taking the example of the Tanzanian Teacher Union. The study is based on data collected from an open ended questionnaire survey, documentation, the union, relevant literature, focus group interactions developed by the participants on their own, and from correspondence with union leaders. The data obtained have been subjected to a combination of document and content analyses. Results were triangulated by using a variety of sources including mass media, correspondence, union reports, minutes of various meetings, and articles written before the formation of the union. The union was analyzed using the theoretical model of Ofori-Dankwa (1993) that characterizes trade unions using two dimensions political and economic which define four paradigms for unions. From the data collected, the researcher concluded that the TTU belongs to the Low Political, Low Economic paradigm. Analysis of the goals of the union however, suggests that it would be more effective in achieving its goals if it moved toward the High Political, High Economic paradigm. The data revealed that the union has trouble addressing a variety of problems including salary/pension delays that make it difficult for members to pay their medical bills and devoting sufficient attention to the problem of HIV/AIDS among teachers. The data also indicated that there are no mechanisms to develop programs for institutionalizing in-service training for members. In addition, the union movement becomes the recipient of donor funding and unknowingly spends its own resources to support the donor driven projects. The union also lacks a mechanism for negotiating with the employer. There is resistance from the private employers and the government to provide such a legal system. Finally, an area for further research is to investigate linkages of unions with the educational systems and other agencies interested in basic education. These linkages are what make unions sustainable while bringing to focus the coordination of organizational activities. The union faces a choice: either to organize itself appropriately or die.

Subject Area

School administration|Teacher education|Labor relations

Recommended Citation

Swai, Fulgence S. S, "Organize or die: Exploring the political and organizational activities of the Tanzania Teacher Union" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3118334.