Adult education programmes in East Africa have historically combined literacy training with a range of efforts to shape the way African women expressed their femininity and sexuality. Early missionaries believed that literacy together with Victorian ideals of feminine propriety, housewifery and mothering would engender 'civilisation' in African women. Today, assisting women to undergo a process of self-realisation is more likely an aim of literacy programmes and reported impacts are more readily attributed to the use of participatory methods than to literacy learning. My first aim is to show that participatory approaches to adult learning are vulnerable to prescriptive manipUlations in the way conventional literacy programmes have long been. This ethnographic study focuses on two NGO literacy programmes in Uganda, one urban, one rural; to explore how women learners construct knowledge during the learning process; how they and others around them perceive this effort and its outcomes, and how this tallies with the expectations development practitioners invest in adult education. Women's ambitions are analysed both with regard to those themes of study that have been popular since colonial times (i.e. health and hygiene) and with regard to more recent concerns for women's empowerment (gender equality in the domestic and public domain). Regardless of their own intentions, programme makers are found to exercise only limited influence over the outcomes of literacy programmes. My second objective is then to illustrate how women learners and facilitators selectively interpret and internalise learning themes and use the messages received or construed to advance their own position in their social contexts. To this end women may prize externally visible health and hygiene practices as symbols of their own conversion to modem ways of living, showing less interest in benefits to physical well-being that may ensue. The desire to be recognised as a 'proper' woman also takes priority over attempts to overtly challenge prevailing norms of gender relations, not because of women's conservatism, but on the contrary, because gender relations already are subject to much overt and covert tension outside of the classes. In conclusion, the aspirations women develop from within their cultural context are seen to mould literacy programmes and their outcomes more significantly than the degree to which participatory methods are followed.
|Publisher||University of Sussex|
|Source Sets||Ethos UK|
|Type||Electronic Thesis or Dissertation|
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