“Maybe I will have a good life in the future…”: The lives, experiences and choices of rural girls as they negotiate different pathways to urban secondary schools in Ethiopia.
Citation:YORKE, LOUISE, ?Maybe I will have a good life in the future??: The lives, experiences and choices of rural girls as they negotiate different pathways to urban secondary schools in Ethiopia., Trinity College Dublin.School of Social Work & Social Policy.SOCIAL WORK AND SOCIAL POLICY, 2018
This study seeks to fill a gap in our understanding of the phenomenon of the migration of rural girls to urban secondary schools in Ethiopia, from the perspectives of rural girls themselves. Specifically the study investigates the lives of girls in their rural communities before they migrate (RQ1), the factors and processes underlying their migration decisions and pathways (RQ2) and the experiences of rural girls when they reach the city, inside and outside of school (RQ3). The leading strength of this study is the in-depth and detailed information that emerges from the encounters with this group of girls. The research is guided by Amartya Sen’s capability approach and is situated within a critical feminist research approach. A qualitative research approach with participatory elements helped to navigate some of the expected challenges associated with being a white researcher in this context and to challenge assumptions of vulnerability commonly associated with girls and women in Ethiopia, particularly those from rural areas. The main data collection was carried out over the course of 10 months in Hawassa City in the Southern Region of Ethiopia (SNNPR). Twenty-seven female participants between the ages of 14-20 years old, from rural communities across 14 different woredas (districts) and a select number of their family members took part in this study. Multiple qualitative and participatory methods were used including participatory video, group discussions, life story interviews, as well as informal observations to help participants tell their stories. A female research assistant (RA) from the Sidama Zone in the SNNPR helped to facilitate the research and also provided cultural insights throughout the fieldwork. The stories of the rural girls presented in this study highlight the nuances and complexities of their lives and provide us with a mixed picture. On one hand, the high aspirations and agency of the participants shine through in these stories and we see the many benefits that they acquire including access to a good quality education, the opportunity to acquire social and cultural capital and the chance to forge a new identity. On the other hand, we also uncover the many trade-offs and sacrifices that rural girls make with the hope and expectation that their lives will be better in the future. A number fail their Grade 10 examination and are unable to secure paid employment beyond education and have to return home to their families. However, despite the significant challenges that the participants have overcome, it seems that the odds are stacked against them. The findings reveal the many layers of inequalities present within the education system in Ethiopia in particular, but also wider and intersecting inequalities across gender, location and socioeconomic status. The findings support the work of others who urge caution about the assumed link between education and positive development, indicating that education may not always be the ‘unqualified good’ that it is sometimes taken to be (Unterhalter, 2003).
Irish Research Council (IRC)
Author: YORKE, LOUISE
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Social Work & Social Policy. Discipline of Social Studies
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available