GLL – on Barriers to education in South Africa

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, South Africa, development

Step 2 – Part 1: on Barriers to education

Link to blog

Link to forum

Land, S. (2006). Barriers to education faced by educationally deprived adults in Muthukrishna, N. (ed.) Mapping Barriers to Basic Education in the Context of HIV and AIDS: A Report on Research conducted in the Richmond District, KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg: School of Education and Development, University of Kwazulu Natal.

What are the main barriers to basic education identified by adult learners in this study?

According to the this study, the following are the main barriers mentioned by interviewees:

Poverty and unemployment

  • Having to work as “slaves” for the family,
  • Finding money for transport;
  • Lack of transport (especially, lack of affordable transportation);
  • Fear of crime, i.e. fear of being attacked on their way to school;
  • Gender issues, i.e. discrimination against women accessing education;
  • Status quo in the family, i.e. “education should not change power relations between husband and wife.” (p.89)

Social breakdow

(few people agreed on):

  • Social breakdown in families impact on education;
  • The use of drugs and alcohol impacts school attendance;

Health issues

  • Poor health, disability, and illnesses;
  • Suspected learning disabilities; (suggested by the researches)
  • Loss of parents to HIV/AIDS (which forces some children to drop out of school);
  • HIV/AIDS would cause lack of income, (p. 93), and fear (p. 95);

What are the main factors identified by adult learners in this study that support their efforts to learn?

These factors are:

  • Motivation to learn;
  • “Implicit perception of whites as potential employers, “ which would support the learners’ contact with white teachers;
  • Some hoped for increased chances of employment;
  • Interest in overcoming sense of inadequacy;
  • Support from family (which even strengthens their parental roles);
  • Employer support;

Discuss this comment in her Conclusion, Land (2006) comments that “It is tempting to salute the resilience of adults who survive and retain the will to learn in situations as severe and discouraging as those described above. However, doing so would, in a sense, sanction the conditions under which they live in, by intimating that they are bearable”.

Yes, this comment has merit and relates to what Gloria wrote in the forum (“The costs of global influences, cultural transformations, are borne more heavily by marginalized groups which has led to social separation”.) and also to Marie’s post (“Risk that global/local learning will evolve within a society in a way that culturally disempowers local community, contributing to continued economic injustices and environmental degradation.”)

This relates also to the traps of governmentability, defined by Foucault as “A form of power that is exercised through an ensemble of institutions, procedures, analyses, and reflections, which results in the formation of a specific governmental apparatus (Foucault, M. “Governmentality.” In The Foucault Effect, edited by G. Burchell, C. Gordon, and P. Mills, pp. 87-104. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). (Fenwick, p. 42

As seen earlier in the program, similar issues are also brought up by Chappell et al. in “Selfwork”.

They suggest that, despite all the good intentions, we may still remain trapped in the cultural framework from which we have emerged, and in which we operate. Such view remains for the most part unchallenged and is self-perpetuating. In this regard, Chappell et al. mention that in some cases “the self participates in its own subjugation and domination whether it is through ‘false consciousness’ produced by membership of a particular social group, or the internalisation of social ‘oppression’ through individual ‘repression’ ”. (Chappelll, C., Rhodes, C., Solomon, N., Tennant, M. and Yates, L. (2003) “Selfwork” in Reconstructing the Lifelong Learner: Pedagogy and identity in individual, organisational and social change (2003) by C. Chappelll, C. Rhodes, N. Solomon, M. Tennant & L. Yates Routledge Falmer, London, p. 6)

Foucault (1980) wrote how, when subjected to the  perpetual surveillance of normalizing practices that classify, measure, and judge them, people begin monitoring and regulating their own behavior to conform with pre-established standards. Eventually, they become self-policing, their “selves” becoming objects of their own critical gaze of measurement and control.” (p. 42) In this way, individuals retain their independence from the institutional context, but also grow into it.

Taking into account the issues identified in your discussion of both readings, discuss the view that South Africa offers a microcosm of global inequalities where a small population has a very high standard of living and a majority of people live in impoverished contexts? Indicate whether and why you agree or disagree.

In Land’s article, the researchers admit that there had been a slight misunderstanding in the level of expectation participants had with regard to their participation. Some thought that by cooperating with the researchers, something might have been done to alleviate the level of their personal despair. This brings be to the following comment:

In a polarized context like South Africa’s, where there is indeed a microcosm of inequalities. our discussion has pinpointed various aspects of such inequalities. Above all, access to education still eludes the vast majority mainly due to lack of available financial resources and appropriate investments. This maintains the status quo, with a rich minority living alongside a very large, poor minority.

I believe that we need to return to the etymological meaning of the word hope, otherwise the risk is high for people to become disillusioned. The UNDP report, like many others like it, may serve the purpose of stirring the lethargic attitude found in the universe of development agencies, but does little to change the balance of power in praxis. This should not come as a surprise, if one looks at who is actually controlling international organizations (certainly not disenfranchised, undereducated, destitute people).


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