Evaluating Applied Theatre Using Amateur Community Actors as a Modality for Pedestrian Education Among Primary School Students in Moshi, Tanzania

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Stewart, Kearsley
Woods, Chris

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Background: The WHO estimates that in 2010 there were over 10,000 road traffic injury related fatalities in Tanzania. Pedestrians accounted for a third of those fatalities. Education is essential to improving Tanzanians' road safety. Theatre has been used as a modality for education for many years, though most efficacy research focuses on professionally created and delivered theatre. The act of creating theatre is an inherently collaborative process, making it a good tool for participatory interventions that involve community members. Collaborative, theatre-based interventions have several benefits for global health projects: 1) they are relatively low-cost; 2) they incorporate community ideas encouraging stakeholder investment; and 3) they have potential to be self sustaining after development aid has stepped away. However, there are two main impediments to using collaborative theatre in global health interventions. First, there is little investigation on the efficacy of collaborative theatre to educate. Second, there are few guidelines to help drama-based programs take advantage of collaboration with amateur community members for health topics.

This study combined qualitative and quantitative methods to understand how participatory theatre with amateur community participants can convey health topics such as road and pedestrian safety in Tanzania. The study measured local primary students' pedestrian knowledge, evaluated theatrical performance as a method to teach pedestrian safety, and explored how community members could use drama techniques to become advocates for road traffic injury prevention. This project sought to adapt a replicable framework of applied theatre exercises to address health issues in a collaborative manner between community members and educators.

Hypothesis: Participatory theatre will increase pedestrian knowledge among primary students.

Methods: Young adult volunteers from Moshi, Tanzania participated in a month long workshop to create a performance to teach road and pedestrian safety. The workshop process was evaluated through qualitative methods, including journaling by the workshop facilitator, daily informal group discussions, and performance response cards from community leaders. At the end of the project, 17 open-ended surveys were administered in Kiswahili among the participants. A focus group with 8 participants was also conducted at the end of the project. A follow up focus group was conducted four months following the end of the project.

Workshop participants presented their play in Kiswahili to local primary schools. Knowledge assessment surveys were administered in Kiswahili to 439 primary school students. Pre and post knowledge assessment surveys were utilized to measure the impact that the community created play had on students' pedestrian knowledge.

Results: Primary school audiences showed statistical improvement between their pre and post survey scores. The average mean score improved from 71.40% of the pedestrian knowledge items correctly answered to 84.39% (P>


= <0.0001). The open-ended workshop participant surveys and focus groups identified factors that contributed to the play's impact, including feelings of self-efficacy, teamwork, and ownership of the work.

Conclusions: The collaborative theatre intervention achieved increases in pedestrian knowledge. Using drama-based exercises, community participants created their own performance to teach pedestrian knowledge. The process helped community participants to become stronger advocates for road safety. We suggest that the applied theatre framework can be repeated with other social, health, and development issues to empower communities with limited available resources in the global health sphere.






Dideriksen, Chrissy (2014). Evaluating Applied Theatre Using Amateur Community Actors as a Modality for Pedestrian Education Among Primary School Students in Moshi, Tanzania. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8820.


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.