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Women's experiences of literacy participation in Cape Town, South Africa : six African women tell their stories

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Women's experiences of literacy participation in Cape Town, South Africa : six African women tell their stories

Bertrand, Margie (1997) Women's experiences of literacy participation in Cape Town, South Africa : six African women tell their stories. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the experiences of six African women participating in literacy programs in Cape Town, South Africa. In order to understand the present context in which the women live and study, it is important to consider the historical, political, economic and cultural factors that have shaped their lives, and those of their ancestors. From here, the paper explores the present social position and material condition of African women living in the Western Cape Province. By becoming aware of the important underlying factors that hinder and/or support women's education, teachers, policy makers and program directors may be able to respond to a reality that is often overshadowed. Using qualitative research techniques, I present the perspective of six women and their experiences as mature students in literacy programs. As "illiterate" people are often portrayed as being helpless and deficient, this study unveils a reality far from the stereotypes that are common in the dominant discourse on literacy. The African women that I interviewed, though deeply affected by their gender roles, historical context and economic constraints--revealed strength, determination and confidence in their ability to learn, raise children and confront the harsh realities of South African society. The women in this study continue to pursue an education against all odds and with little support. They speak well of themselves and their abilities to survive and nurture their children and communities. These conclusions are different from studies carried out in other contexts, such as India (Medel-Anonuevo, 1996) Nova Scotia (Horsman, 1989), U.S.A. (Rockhill, 1985) where women echo low self-esteem and a sense of helplessness. It is important that our assumptions about "illiterate" people be challenged. In order for this to happen, it is helpful to seek the perspectives of literacy participants themselves. Their voices must be central to any discussion on literacy practice and theory.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Bertrand, Margie
Pagination:viii, 117 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (M.A.)
Program:Education
Date:1997
Thesis Supervisor(s):Cleghorn, Ailie
ID Code:293
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:10
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:13
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