The Impact of Patriarchy on the Education of Mother-learners: A Phenomenological Study of Three Rural Schools in Namibia

African Journal of Gender, Society and Development 12 (2):55-82 (2023)
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This article investigates some of the constraining factors experienced by 16 school-going mothers in the Okalongo circuit, Namibia. This was a qualitative phenomenological study, conducted through in-depth individual interviews, focus group discussions, and reflective journals with 16 school-going mothers between the ages of 17 and 20, purposively selected from three different public rural schools. This qualitative, phenomenological study analyses, through feminist and intersectionality theory, the lived experiences of these young mothers as they encounter the traditional, patriarchal attitudes and practices of the Ovambadja community because these girls fell pregnant before their formal, cultural initiation. The article documents, through the voices of the young women themselves, the numerous constraints they experienced and overcame in their determination to complete their schooling. The findings show that, aside from the deeply held destructive patriarchal beliefs that significantly constrain and harm the mother-learners, the Namibian Learners Pregnancy Policy, which is intended to protect and ensure pregnant learners and motherlearners complete their schooling, is not being properly or effectively implemented. The study recommends an increase in efforts at the national level in Namibia to raise awareness among members of parliament, school administrators and principals, and all policymakers to develop better monitoring systems that will improve policy implementation in schools.

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Dominic Griffiths
University of Witwatersrand


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