Ujamaa and Universal Design: Developing Sustainable Tactile Curricular Materials in Rural Tanzania

Alisha M. B. Braun, Betty Okwako-Riekkola


Purpose: This article illustrates the power of collaboration in the spirit of Ujamaa to build curricular materials that can engage and support the learning of a diverse group of students in under-resourced environments. The authors reflect on their personal experience overseeing collaborative service learning projects with Tanzanian partners through a study abroad programme.

Method: The service learning project took place in a rural primary school in northern Tanzania, characterised by large class sizes and the unavailability of teaching and learning materials.

Tactile curricular materials were collaboratively developed by Tanzanian student teachers, practising teachers, and American undergraduate students. Locally available and recyclable materials were used, such as plastic water bottles, tubing, plastic bags and cardboard boxes.

Results: Examples of curricular materials that were developed are presented, and lessons learned through the experience are shared.

Conclusion: The use of locally available, recyclable materials enhanced sustainability. Having sustainable curricular materials that are accessible to a diverse range of students in under-resourced educational settings has the potential to foster learning for all. The underlying cultural concept of interconnectedness or Ujamaa strengthened the collaborative relationship between participating teachers and students, and can be drawn upon to enhance future service learning and international development efforts in education.


Universal design; sustainable development; service learning

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5463/dcid.v29i2.686

Copyright (c) 2018 Alisha M. B. Braun, Betty Okwako-Riekkola

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