Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

The Rural and Urban Divide in Early Literacy Acquisition in Tanzania: The Mediating Roles of Home and School Contexts

Ndijuye, L.G., Beatus, J. (2022) The Rural and Urban Divide in Early Literacy Acquisition: The Mediating Roles of Home and School Contexts. International Journal of Primary, Elementary, and Early Years Education, 3-13.,

Access: FREE/Open Access

Publication year


study description


core topic(s)

Early Literacy

Population Characteristics

International , Kindergarten , Lingually Diverse , Poverty/Low-Income , Race, Ethnicity, and Culture , Rural , Urban

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Home Language/Literacy/Learning Environment , Language and Literacy Development , School Readiness and Educational Outcomes


This study examined the differences in the level of literacy acquisition between pupils from urban and rural backgrounds in Tanzania.


Urban and rural backgrounds

outcomes evaluated

Level of literacy acquisition


Dodoma City was selected to represent the urban areas, while Chamwino District was chosen for its rural areas. Located in central Tanzania, Dodoma City is estimated to have a population of about 810,956 while Chamwino District has a population of 530,543.


A mixed-method research approach under the concurrent mixed design was employed. A total of 200 early grade children, 120 parents, 20 teachers were recruited. The data were collected by the Early Grades Reading Assessment, semi-structured interviews, parent questionnaires, and documentary analyses.

sample size

n=200 (students); n=4 (school principals); n=16 (teachers); n=120 (parents)


  • Measure of Student Learning Outcomes: Early Grade Reading Assessment¬†(EGRA) Toolkit used to assess literacy levels
  • Measure of Classroom and School Resources Available: semi-structured interviews with early grade teachers and principals
  • Measure of Family SES and HLE: parent questionnaire asking about demographic information, the availability and frequency of the use of print materials and teaching and learning resources at home, parental education, and family wealth


Findings indicated that urban children outperformed rural children when it came to every literacy aspect tested, except reading comprehension. In both areas, girls outperformed boys, although rural boys were generally over-aged. The home learning environments for children from rural areas were found to be limited with less support than even for those from the poor urban areas. Regardless of urbanicity, poor and extremely limited teaching and learning facilities, large class sizes, and curriculum issues were pointed out as the main hindrances for children to acquiring literacy skills.


These findings have implications for policymakers, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders in this region calling for joint reform efforts to improve early literacy acquisition.


Not discussed.