Girl children’s access to sustainable learning in rural ecologies : a bourdieuian policy and practice analysis
Premised on assertions that despite all the efforts directed at ensuring equal access to education for girls and boys, there are persistent gender disparities and gaps as well as a range of hindrances with regard to girl children’s access to sustainable learning in rural ecologies. The Participatory Action Research (PAR) study with feminists’ orientations, seeks to propose a framework on girl children’s access to sustainable learning in rural ecologies. Conducted in the Nkangala District of the Mpumalanga Province, the study begins with a situational analysis that identifies and interrogates issues that continue to confront rural girl children’s access to sustainable learning in rural ecologies. The feminists’ orientations serve to emphasise issues of gender inclusion and equity in and through education for a gender transformative education agenda. This study unpacks Bourdieu’s theoretical constructs of the field, the habitus and the capital. It then explores how these can be used to potentially enhance initiatives and interventions that focus on access to sustainable learning for rural girl children in a way that shapes and informs educational practice and policy. With the understanding derived from Bourdieuian theory of practice, the study situates rural girl children the rural homes, schools and the broader communities as their main social fields of play. It thus interrogates the power struggles, contestations and manifestations associated with girl children and educational settings. Whilst acknowledging that the rural homes and communities are important sites for sustainable learning, rural schools (ing) are in this study considered as an integral playing field. This policy and practice analysis study concludes with a proposed framework that is premised firstly on the utmost consideration towards developing rural girl children’s agency, their full capabilities and potential. Secondly, conscientisation should be propelled towards gendered re-socialisation, which is gendering the habitus in rural households. Thirdly, gender-mainstreaming initiatives should facilitate more gender sensitive and responsive educational policies and practices in rural schools. Lastly, continued community-based advocacy and mobilisation must be implemented to enhance gendered socio-cultural capitals that promote gender equality and equity with regard to girl children’s access to sustainable learning in rural ecologies.