From contextual frustrations to classroom transformations: female empowerment through science education in rural South Africa

Franci Schabort, Astrid Sinnes, William C. Kyle
2017 Educational Action Research  
a department of learning and teacher Education, norwegian university of life sciences, Ås, norway; b department of Educator Preparation, innovation and Research, university of Missouri -st. louis, st. louis, Mo, usa ABSTRACT The objective of this transformative action research project was to explore and develop sustainable methods to promote female empowerment through science education in rural, disadvantaged sectors of South Africa. In an attempt to achieve this we collaborated with local
more » ... ted with local community members to develop and implement a contextualized science curriculum at a school in the aforementioned setting. As soon as the project was launched it became increasingly clear that although the ideology of 'empowerment through science education' seemed a promising venture, it could also be an extremely complex and often frustrating undertaking. This was especially true when working within an unfamiliar cultural setting. Numerous challenges, such as the lack of teacher motivation, malnutrition amongst the learners, and conflicts stemming from differences between the indigenous knowledge and the western concept of science, greatly impeded the delivery of quality education in the area. These challenges had to be addressed both in pedagogical and practical terms before any attempt towards libratory education could be made. This article sheds light on the complex inter-relationship between the human factor and the organizational and physical infrastructure at a school. It begins with a brief description of the local context and goes on to identify the theoretical underpinnings and chosen methodology for the project. The article concludes with a review of the complexities involved in possible attempts to initiate and foster educational and social transformations in a rural South African setting. We contend that it is essential to first be thoroughly familiar with the background, culture, and needs of any community before any attempts are made towards social justice. © 2017 the author(s). Published by informa uK limited, trading as taylor & Francis Group. this is an open access article distributed under the terms of the creative commons attribution-noncommercial-noderivatives license (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
doi:10.1080/09650792.2017.1286996 fatcat:ntkjljnzi5a47auu5vbvl5h34a