Effects of Noise Pollution on Students’ Learning in Selected Urban Public Secondary Schools in Dar es Salaam City, Tanzania

African Research Journal of Education and Social Sciences, 5(1), 2018
Author: Josta Lameck Nzilano
Dar es Salaam University, College of Education
P. O. Box 2329, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | E-mail: nzilanoj@gmail.com


The study investigated effects of noise pollution on students’ learning in Dar es Salaam city focusing on state secondary schools. The study adopted a case study design. Purposive sampling procedure was used to select two schools for the study. Simple random procedure on the other hand was used to arrive at a sample of 52 respondents. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, questionnaire and direct observations. Results were presented in themes, figures, and photographs. The findings indicated that motor vehicles, construction and welding machines and other activities related to music sounds, promotions adverts and people’s movements were affecting teachers and students in teaching in the selected schools. The findings reported that without proper procedures of mobile phone use, contributed in noise pollution at school. The study findings suggested ways to reduce noise pollution, including change of routes for motor vehicles, school and local authorities to use existing rules and laws effectively, and transform school buildings to accommodate sophisticated noise barriers as well as noisy machines to less noisy polluting ones.

Keywords: sources of noise pollution, effects of noise pollution, secondary school environment, noise prevention, City noise, School noise, Tanzania

1.    Introduction
Pollution is the process whereby there is presence or introduction of substances which have harmful or poisonous effects, particularly through human activities that lead to undesirable effects to living things, human add pollutants to all parts of the biosphere including air, water and land. Sustainable use of the biosphere creates conducive environment for living. However, if human and non-human activities continue to disrupt the biosphere system, this action might cause diverse environmental and human problems if not controlled. This study contains the following sections: Introduction,

Different scholars of literature have debated about pollution and its effects in school teaching and learning environments (Evans & Maxwell, 1997; Higgins, Hall, Wall, Woolner & McCaughey, 2005). The most common type of pollution in schools located in the City of Dar es Salaam is noise pollution. Noise refers to an unwanted sound that is judged to be unpleasant, loud or disruptive to hearing. Noise also is any sound that interferes with: (a) Physical transmission of sound, (b) physiological comfort during communication (c) mental process of thinking about communication, and (c) symbolic meaning systems (Norris, 2016). Studies have shown that prolonged and regular exposure to excessive noise results to both physical and psychological health consequences which among others include hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance, and sleep disturbance (Norris, 2016).

According to WHO (2015), millions of young people are likely to suffer from hearing impairment due to these noise pollutants in cities, and that noise exceeding 115 decibels (dB) is unhealthy. The report further indicated that the standard sound limit should be maintained at 85dB during the day and 75dB during the night. The study showed that a huge number of people aged between 12-35 years were exposed to a range of noise pollutants and they were at risk of developing severe hearing disorders. The study revealed that some human activities resulting to noise pollution include: mobile sources such as cars, buses, planes, trucks, and trains: Stationery sources such as power plants, oil refineries, industrial facilities, and factories.  Area sources such as agricultural areas, cities, and wood burning fireplaces and Natural sources such as wind-blown dust (WHO, 2015). With time, a number of such human activities especially in the cities such Dar es Salaam have been affecting proper teaching and learning through increasing tension, causing mental disturbances and social anxiety among teachers and students in schools. The author argued:

In young children, noise-induced complications hinder the teacher-student communication and eventually affect the learning process. Constant noise exposure in classrooms can obstruct learning. On average, children who are exposed to noisy learning environments have lower assessment scores on standardized tests. The teacher’s voice is another point of real interest when we think about speech perception, as the great task of knowledge transmission depends on it, and it must be clear, harmonious, intelligible and beyond all and any competitive noise, otherwise the students will not follow the teaching (WHO, 2015).

De Lucca & Dragone (2003) believe that the teacher belongs to a group that uses the voice professionally and that needs to have special care including the attainment of educational programmes focusing the prevention of vocal problems, as well as the use of several resources. However, in a noisy classroom, the teacher has to literally compete for audibility with the noise interruptions from outside, and this form of straining causes health risks to teachers as well.
This characterizes the Lombard Effect, that is, the tendency of the speaker to maintain a constant relation between his speech level and the competitive noise.

Research on the effects of noise pollution have a view that children in schools with high  aircraft noise exposure for instance don’t concentrate in class better as compared to those with limited forms of noise pollution (Evans & Maxwell, 1997). Their research discovered that children often have difficulty acquiring speech recognition skills when background noise is high, interfering with the quantity and quality of information that they receive. However, they noted that students in quiet school scored higher since their learning and teaching experiences by teachers is less interrupted.

Acknowledging the complexity of noise pollution, (Science for Environment Policy [SEP], 2017) highlighted that noise pollution can be controlled because there are different machines produce noises and they   need unique technology regardless of the existing laws to control their pollutants. One of the common ways of overcoming the nuisance from machines   is to   absorb the vibration and converting it to heat energy using special barrier materials. The author indicated that the use of noise barriers for example absorbing devices, caped materials, angled materials and covering materials are effective in reducing sound waves and transmission of noise. Arguably, such noise and vibration producing technologies are more pronounced in large cities and towns where industries come up and motor vehicles are more Therefore, considering the effects of noise in human health, an investigation of the effects of noise pollution in teaching and learning is important in developing countries.

Higgins, Hall, Wall, Woolner & McCaughey, (2005) argued that studies in developing countries have to adopt a design-led model in understanding the complex nature of school environments and interactions. It constitutes different grids including learning, environment, communication, systems and services and products and services. Hence, student learning is more likely to be associated with changes in elements around it as Figure 1 shows.

Considering the elements of these model systems and process, environment, products and communication, the studied phenomenon in this study would be addressed in line with the following assumptions:  First, it assumes that systems and processes involve different users who have different perceptions and needs, which often differ from the architect’s perspective. At school level, teachers’ attitudes and behavior are important in the use of school space for student learning.  Secondly, it assumes that school built environment is strong and consistent in affecting the basic physical variables e.g. temperature, noise, air quality on learning. It assumes that in this aspect there are other physical attributes which affect student’s perceptions and behavior however, it is difficult to draw definite and general conclusions. Thirdly, the quality of products and services including catering services, transport facility, buildings, and teaching resources are important to children and may be linked to learning. Extending schools into the community is considered desirable to enrich the health of school teaching and learning environment. Lastly, the model believes in communication to building school environment and the community (Higgins et al., 2005). Good communication within a school seems to be part of creating an environment that is conducive for successful teaching and learning. The present study considered the components in this framework to develop an understanding of the phenomena in question because it has embraced about important aspects of the studied phenomena.

In most cities including Dar es Salaam the people including students and teachers have experienced noise pollution and the need to control the problem is high because it affects in many ways (Mahanga, 2002).  (Flavell, 1977) studied that learning is dependent on the ability to communicate with spoken language, which forms the basis of the ability to read and write. For example, the author indicated that 60% of classroom learning activities typically involve listening and participating in spoken communications with the teacher and students. It is expected from the studies that any form disruption of this communication directly affects the learning by students’ Therefore, if that is the case, noise pollution poses serious physical and psychological effects to both teachers and students. The severity of these effects depend on a number of factors such as: the time one is exposed to noise, the magnitude of the noise, (WHO, 2015). Since different studies conducted in developed countries revealed that the effects of noise pollution to humans are quite often irreversible (Evans & Maxwell, 2017) The researchers saw the need for a similar study to be conducted in a developing country, with special focus to Tanzania. Therefore, the study examined the effects of noise pollution on teaching and learning in selected urban public secondary schools in Dar es Salaam City, Tanzania.

2. Methodology

The study used a case study design to examine the effects of noise pollution on students’ teaching and learning in government secondary schools in Ilala district of Dar es Salaam city. In addition, the study design was considered appropriate since it would accurately highlight the effects of noise pollution since. The population sample involved a total of 52 participants, and of these, 12 were teachers and 40 were students. This population sample was obtained randomly from 2 secondary schools.  The two secondary schools were strategic for the study due to their geographical location within the city.

Data was collected using questionnaires, conducting physical observations and through conducting interviews. The questionnaires had closed-ended questions, because they are easily analyzed, and every answer can be given a number or value so that a statistical interpretation can be assessed. In such surveys, closed-ended questions take less time from the interviewer, the participant and the researcher, and so is a less expensive survey method. The response rate is higher with surveys that use closed-ended question than with those that use open-ended questions.

Direct observation method was used to observe and record information from the schools’ environment and surrounding establishments. The researcher’s observations would be captured
and recorded so as to clearly create a co-relation with the topic of study. Semi-structured interviews were used to gather data from teachers in response to the study topic. The semi-structured interview was considered since respondents are offered the freedom to give their insights and views about the study topic in the most convenient ways, and the interview questions are prepared in advance such that the interviewer is able to internalize all that the interview entails (Cohen & Crabtree, 2006).

Data analysis was conducted through thematic analysis, where it emphasizes pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns or themes within data Guest, (MacQueen & Namey 2011). Themes are patterns across data sets that are important to the description of a phenomenon and are  associated to a specific research question. Data was transcribed, coded and categorized according to topics. The information was later fed to data analyzing computer soft-wares like Ms-excel, word and Nvivo facilitated findings organization in different forms including graphs, tables and quotes. Study results’ accuracy was carefully analyzed by scrutinizing the results critically. Furthermore, ethical aspects of this study were adhered to through the signing of consent forms by participants, ensuring confidentiality and anonymity of the research process and informants. In addition, researcher informed the participants about the research purpose and the rights to withdraw from the study at any time during the study period.

3. Results

3.1 Demographic Characteristics
The research reports findings on participants’ characteristics, sources of noise pollution and their effects on communication at school environment as well as the strategies used to address the problem in urban secondary schools. The participants of the study included same number of males and females for both students and teachers. In this case, 20 males and 20 female students responded to the questionnaires from the selected secondary schools. The age ranges of these students were between 18 to 23 years old. On the other end, 3 female and 3 male teachers responded to the interviews and questionnaires. The teachers involved in this study had more than 3 years of teaching experience at their respective schools and students involved were in form three and four.

3.2 Sources of Noise Pollution
From the results of this study, the findings show that there were different sources of noise pollution around the selected schools. Figure 1 shows students’ responses on sources of noise.


Figure 1 Students’ responses on sources of noise

The findings in Figure 1 showed that students were in agreement that the leading causes of noise in schools included welding machines (85%), motor vehicles (77.5%), and other activities (72.5%) related to social functions (e.g. funeral, public bars, weeding and traditional activities). In addition, these were followed by similar number of students’ responses who indicated that construction activities and use of mobile phones (75%) causes a significant noise in urban schools. A few of them agreed that students’ talking in classrooms (47.5%) and petty trades/businesses (37.5%) caused noise in schools. In addition, there were disagreement among respondents regarding petty businesses (62.5%) and students’ voices (52.5%) to be the sources of noise because such activities were considered to be the least cause of noise in schools. Thus, these findings indicated that the higher the percentage of agreement among students reflected the lower the percentage of disagreement of any aspect representing the source of noise and vice versa. Figure 2 shows findings on the teachers’ levels of awareness with regards to noise pollution sources.

Figure 2 Teachers’ responses on noise sources

The results show that the main sources of noise pollution were generated by welding and construction machines as noted by 10 teachers and followed by motor vehicles and other activities by 9 teachers. Hawking business (7) and use of cell phones in schools were considered to cause noise in schools. Insignificant amount of noise came from students’ voices as indicated by 4 teachers. Eight teachers disagreed that students’ voices were not the source of noise in schools.  In this case, the results revealed that less than 3 teachers were in disagreement on the view that motor vehicles, constructions and welding machines as well as other activities were the major sources of noise in their schools.

Furthermore, observation results revealed that schools were built close to roads which were busy with many activities including road repairs due heavy traffic and people passing through the schools’ environment (Plate 1). The photographs were  taken from two different secondary schools. Plate 1 below shows that there were construction activities of upgrading the murram to tarmac road in one of the urban secondary schools selected for this study. The road construction was in progress just next to the school. In this school, a wall was built to separate the school building and the road to protect movement of people and sound from different sources. In addition, plate 2 reveals a school building that was very close to the road and not separated by a wall. It was observed that noise from the activities on the road was directly causing disruption in the adjacent classes, which in most cases were left open even during learning. This means that sounds generated by motor vehicles, cyclists, and people moving along the road in one way or another caused disruptions to the student’s learning inside the classrooms.


3.3 Effects of Noise Pollution
This study revealed the effects of noise in schools. The results indicate that both teachers and students unanimously agree that noise pollution from the different sources contributed significantly to poor learning in these schools. Teachers and students responded as discussed below with regards to the effects of noise pollution on communication at school. Noise pollution directly affects learning, attention of teachers and students during teaching and learning processes reduces efficiency in teaching. One teacher explained that:

It is sometimes irritating to me when I teach my students and noisy people are walking on the road adjacent  to the classrooms while the cars keep hooting. Sometimes I stop teaching to allow the noise to settle, before continuing with teaching.

Another teacher also complained that:

The Government should strictly enforce rules that protect noise pollution at places of learning. The classrooms are no longer conducive for learning due to noise pollution from different sources. This has even encouraged naughty students to constantly misbehave during learning. The study findings revealed that there were several proposals by different stakeholders to minimize the effects of noise pollution in schools. Some proposed that any one whose business or work involves noise should be held personally liable and should have a permit allowing them to produce noise.

Appropriate locations with minimal disruptions should be designated for school construction in future. Industries should be located away from institutions especially of learning so that activities can run smoothly. In addition, teachers proposed the need to adhere to basic practices during learning hours, and this includes closing classroom windows. All occupants both within and outside the school should at all times adhere to the set rules and regulations regarding noise pollution. Creating awareness to members of the public and business owners around the school was also found necessary since it would effectively address the issue of unnecessary noise for instance hooting by public service vehicles and shouting by hawkers near the school premises. Mobile phone use should only be allowed at designated points and teachers should maintain their phones on silent mode while in class. This would minimize interruptions during learning hours hence improved concentration by students. It was also noted that most teachers operate their phones with total disregard of those working or concentrating on serious work around them”. Therefore there was need for all involved stakeholders to always adhere to the basic work ethics and ensure there is order and that all operations run smoothly and effectively.

4. Discussion

The study findings focused on the sources and effects of noise pollution and explored possible solutions that aim at reducing the effects of noise pollution in secondary schools located within urban cities or towns.

The study findings clearly outlined that more than 65% of students were in agreement that activities taking place around the school such as construction, engineering activities such as metal grinding and welding, traffic by motor vehicles and public service cars and all other activities around the school environment, use of cellular phones and construction activities were the major sources of noise pollution to these schools (Figure 1). Meanwhile, about 15 to 45 percent of students indicated that students’ voices and petty businesses were the sources of noise in school environment. It was also noted from the study findings that Hawking activities far from the school compound, businesses followed by students’ noises had little effects in teaching and learning compared to other sources of noise. Building on Higgins’s et al. (2005) framework, results suggested that school environment were affected by noise because they were either located closer to the sources of noise pollution or there were poor school administrative roles to stop the situation. It was discovered from the study that noise pollution created school environment unfavorable for learning and it encouraged truancy and dropout to some students. Thus, teachers and students were annoyed and stressed with noise pollution. The results concur with WHO, (2015) argument that human activities are the leading cause of noise pollution in schools’ environment which affects teaching and learning and the subsequent academic performance of students.

Interestingly, results obtained from 12 teachers’ experience on sources of noise pollution at school environment indicated that more that 50% agreed that the noise was associated with mobile sources like the motor vehicles, fire processes such as welding and metal grinding works, construction machines, hawking businesses and other activities. Some teachers considered the students’ noise during break hours to contribute to a relatively small percentage to noise pollution. However, findings in figure 2 showed that teachers who appeared to disagree (6) and agree (6). Ideally, the study discovered that the majority of workers at school own mobile phones and use with them any time when they need to and this causes unnecessary disruptions during learning hours.

Hawking business around the secondary schools’ environment was reported to be one of the major sources of noise pollution. Hawkers targeting students were selling their wares just outside the school compound, and were causing constant disruptions to during learning. This situation started growing out of hand when the school administration rather became reluctant to enforce rules and regulations on matters of controlling hawkers around the school.

There is no any serious rule or way that is set by the school to stop students from producing noise. Even those people who come to do their business around the school surroundings … they just come and go as if this place is for businesses.

Results generated from 10 (83.3%) teachers showed that welding activities were the major causes of noise pollution in many urban schools due to development of industrial activities. It was urged from the study findings that the Government should observe appropriate locations for   industries and schools to avoid problems such as pollution (SEP, 2017).

It was noted from the results (Figure 1 and 2) that a majority of teachers and students agreed that noise pollution has direct and significant effects on teaching and general learning at school. They agreed that noise from construction, motor vehicles, metal work businesses and other activities had greater effects on teaching and learning process. One of the teachers highlighted that disregard of basic work ethics like phone use in schools affected productivity of both workers and students’ concentration on learning.  For instance, a majority of teachers (83.3%) viewed that construction activities within the school compound hindered effective teaching and learning and the situation contributed to the poor performance of students in their schools. Thus, it was discovered from this study that the prevalence of noise pollution in schools affected the attention of teachers and students in carry out their teaching and learning activities (Flavell, 1977; Norris, 2016).

On the proposals to address noise pollution in schools, it was suggested that the government through the respective authorities and other education stakeholders should ensure that noise regulations are fully implemented and are applied at all places. Other considerations can include proper control of traffic within the roads around the school so as to help students study in conducive environments and improve their academic performance. Moreover, the study further revealed that the government authorities should make a law or choose a specific area for industrial activities. The results also revealed the need to observe teaching ethics regularly to control discipline problems among students and teachers. It was found that there was a need to create awareness among students about noise pollution and its effects on learning.

The engineering aspect of the class rooms was to be done in such a manner that it would allow for maximum noise pollution in the classroom (SEP, 2017). Installation of air conditioning machines should be considered to allow proper air circulation when the windows are closed. (Higgins et al., 2005).

The study proposed the use of rules or enacting laws which prevent noise from motor vehicles, construction and welding machines as well as other activities including music, promotion adverts and people passing nearby the school during work time. For example, findings from teachers  (83.3%) discovered that noise from these activities contributed high effects in teaching learning process compared to noise from hearing cell phone (50%) which had less effects due to laws established in the school by the Government. Thus, the study findings suggest that the existing laws are not enforced to prevent noise pollution. The suggestion perhaps required the schools’ board, local government authorities and the community to contribute their effort in reducing the problem in schools (SEP, 2017).

5. Conclusion

This study concludes that noise is relatively social, cultural and physical phenomenon, it is considered as not a problem rather promotes learning communities through which cultural values, social norms and obligations are clarified and cherished. There are many factors leading to noise pollution in schools, but the major sources of noise include the use of construction machines, motor vehicles, welding machines and other human activities related to music, public bars, promotion adverts, and entertainment.

However, there is little attention from responsible authorities in enforcing the existing laws and regulations reduce noise pollution from within and outside the school environment. In this case, it appears that teachers, students and the public are accustomed to the problem, such that a few or none of them finds a way to stop it or rise about it to the responsible authorities for further action. Authorities in schools seemed to apply some strategies to deal with noise sources inside their walls and they were not able to address noise sources outside school boundaries. Thus, more affirmative action should be considered in line with the recommendations of this study to address this problem.

Further research is needed to study the different trends and magnitude of noise pollution problem in the area. A study is needed to determine the effects and methods of mitigating this challenge of noise pollution. This is also important since it will advise urban planners and other relevant stakeholders on the most appropriate zones for school construction. There is need for similar studies to be conducted in other cities in the country as this challenges keep on growing and greatly affecting learning in schools. There is need to conduct similar studies to cover other institutions of learning such as primary schools, colleges and universities in urban settings. This will be a great way of addressing the challenges facing the education system in totality.


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Suggested Citation

Nzilano, J.L. (2018). Effects of Noise Pollution on Students’ Learning in Selected Urban Public Secondary Schools in Dar es Salaam City, Tanzania . African Research Journal of Education and Social Sciences, 5 (1). Retrieved from http://www.arjess.org/education-research/effects-of-noise-pollution-on-students-learning-in-selected-urban-public-secondary-schools-in-dar-es-salaam-city-tanzania.pdf

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