Connecting the private and the public: pregnancy, exclusion, and the expansion of schooling in Africa

Case Studies & Research
2013
16 p.
Periodical title
Gender and Education, 25 (1), pp. 75-90

In a number of countries in Africa, young women who become pregnant are excluded from school. This article presents a critique of policy and practice in this area drawing partly on Diana Leonard's scholarship concerning the relational dynamic of gender, generation, social division, and household forms. Much of the policy prescription of large global organisations concerned with the expansion of secondary schooling in Africa does not sufficiently take account of the connection between the gender dynamics of the private and that of the public outlined in Leonard's work. In showing some of the effects of this oversight, this article reports on data from research studies in five countries in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana) to show how aspects of silence, evasion, and stereotyping often characterise teachers' and education officials' reflections on youth and pregnancy. Young women's concerns with the risk of pregnancy are often given inadequate attention, while harsh actions to shame young women who become pregnant are reported. The importance of working across sectors to link social policy in this area is shown to be difficult and in need of much more focused resource.

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