This study is designed to investigate and describe the theory and practice of stakeholders’ participation in management of basic education projects/programs run by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the United Republic of Tanzania (URT). Two CSOs, one in Dar es Salaam city and the other in Mbeya city, are involved in the investigation. The study focuses on what is done with regard to stakeholders’ participation in the planning, monitoring and evaluation phases of the project cycle. Additionally, the study investigates the coordination function of the URT government to CSOs involved in provision and / or support of basic education. The study has adopted the qualitative approach whereby different members from the two CSOs, Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, and Ministry of Community Development Gender and Children are interviewed. The information gathered from interviews is complimented by information from documents, mainly from the two ministries.
The findings reveal some failures of CSOs in making stakeholders’ participation theory into practice, leading to less-significant levels of quality and extent of stakeholders’ participation. The findings specifically reveal that the CSOs’ claim to embrace stakeholders’ participation does not necessarily mean participation that involves collective decision-making of stakeholders. The decision-making in the three major phases of the project cycle in both Dar es Salaam and Mbeya projects is mainly influenced by donors and the projects’ elite who occupy the senior management. The financial constraints experienced by CSOs are to blame for the most of stakeholders’ participation failures. On the other hand, the URT government is commended for the policies that underscore the state-CSOs partnership. However, the implementation of policies is affected by, among other factors, the financial constraints.