Access and retention of girls in basic education in Rwanda: an exploration of stakeholder’s views and perspectives

Gahima, Charles (2012) Access and retention of girls in basic education in Rwanda: an exploration of stakeholder’s views and perspectives. Doctoral thesis (EdD), University of Sussex.

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The focus of this work is an exploration of issues related to poor access and retention of girls across the Nine Year Basic Education (9YBE) level in Rwanda. This was accomplished through analysis of stakeholders’ views and perspectives, informed by a constructivist ontological perspective and interpretative methodological stance.

Specifically, through interviews and conversations, the research, sought to explore different experiences, ideas, attitudes and views held by stakeholders in the educational up-take by girls. These stakeholders groups included the educationist group (Headteachers, Teachers, and Education Officers), NGO group (FAWE and Community Women Organizations - CWO), Parent group (Parents in general and Parents on schools’ PTAs), Learner group (pupils in school) and Girl dropout group (girls who had dropped out of school). This study sought to explore the stakeholders’ perspectives on the main barriers to girls’ access and retention across the 9YBE, where accountability lay for keeping girls in school, and proposed strategies for ensuring gender equity in education.

The thesis is introduced from a geographical and an historical perspective as the context of the education provision in Rwanda. A literature review considers the challenges and solutions to girls’ education provision and through this a conceptual framework is developed around equity and equality issues from which the research questions are formulated with respect to Rwanda. Following this the research design, methodology, data collection techniques and analysis are discussed. My constructivist methodology and interpretive-epistemological stance highlights the use of qualitative data mainly based on interviews.

In findings I show that issues regarding poor access and retention of girls in school revolve around economic challenges and associated household poverty, school based challenges, traditional and cultural gendered beliefs and the positioning of girls in the Rwandan society and argue that these challenges have been accentuated by effects of the 1994 genocide that are still manifest today. I also argue that there is a serious lack of accountability for keeping girls in school, and that the decentralised education provision has sustained gender discrimination which is heightened among the poor. This signals the emergence of a class divide between those who are lucky enough to go to school, study and complete and those who do not. My analysis also indicates that issues of girls’ poor access and retention in education revolve also around the lasting effects of war and genocide that Rwanda experienced 18 years ago. This has been accentuated by deep rooted family poverty that informs gendered choices on who goes to school under difficult circumstances. I show the implications of the conflict for current educational up-take and argue that in the Rwandan context there is a need for more informed and innovative work to solve the problems in addition to solutions suggested by interviewees that are mainly centred on the urgent need for government to eradicate poverty seen as a major setback to girls’ education uptake.

This study contributes to the contemporary debates in Rwanda, about whether or not the government is doing enough to ensure girls’ access and full participation in 9YBE. It also illuminates stakeholder perspectives on this contested debate on how best girls’ education may be provided to solve the current low uptake and the ways forward. As this research was conducted in Rwanda, a post-conflict country, it also contributes to an understanding of issues that face girls’ schooling in post genocide conditions. Further, this study makes an addition to the limited stock of educational research in Sub-Saharan African nations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC1390 Education of special classes of persons > LC1401 Women. Girls
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG401 Africa > LG545 Rwanda
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2012 13:52
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2015 14:12

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