Does education make a difference? : an exploration of education and gender in a South African context


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Høgskolen i Oslo. Avdeling for lærerutdanning og internasjonale studier

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Master i flerkulturell og internasjonal utdanning


This thesis examines the role of education in the process of transforming gender norms in marginalized societies, based on a study in a South African township. Education is understood as a crucial tool when societies initiate social and political change, but needs to be critically viewed on whether efforts in fact challenge practices, culturally and socially, that are gender insensitive. The tendency of understanding gender equality as numerical equality has dominated how national and international policy on gender has been outlined, and despite all efforts, reaching social and political justice and empowerment for women seems to be a slow process. Two main focuses come out of the study reported in this thesis. First, there is a gap between modern gender discourses, on the one hand, which form the school’s efforts and approaches and traditional gender practices, on the other hand. Secondly, in disadvantaged societies and societies in conflict education there is a need to involve a more sensitive approach towards people’s realities and pragmatic choices in order to “live out” the potential of education as a counterforce on unjust practices. The capability approach and social construct theory will serve as the theoretical orientation for this thesis and together they offer a conceptual structure in order to understand how education, gender and development may be related.


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