The Relationship between a Literacy Program and Women’s Lives in a Rural Context: An Ethnographic Study from Pakistan

By Tabassum Afzal.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The research paper takes a critical and reflexive stance in explaining and analyzing the relationship between women’s everyday lives and a literacy program in a rural context. The paper is based on the findings of a year-long ethnographic study conducted in Pakistan. The research was carried out within the tradition which views literacy as social practice. Firstly, the study explores the existing everyday literacy practices of women in the rural Pakistani context in order to understand the role of reading and writing in their everyday life. Secondly, the study tries to understand the vision and practices of an adult literacy program, particularly focusing on what literacies are being taught and how these are learned. Thirdly, the research explores the consequences of the literacy program on women’s lives in terms of their empowerment, at both personal and social levels. The paper also identifies the gaps in the promoted vision and practices of the literacy program in relation to women’s lives in their particular context. In finding the explanations for these associations & discrepancies between program and women’s lives, the study also explores issues such as gender relations, women’s empowerment, and power dynamics in a cultural context and in educational settings.

Keywords: Women’s Literacy, Adult Literacy Program, Rural Context, Ethnographic Research

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 10, pp.247-256. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 576.628KB).

Tabassum Afzal

PhD Student, Institute for Educational Development (IED), The Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

Tabassum Afzal is a doctoral student (in Education) at the Aga Khan University, Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED), Karachi, Pakistan. Her research is in the area of women’s literacy and development in Pakistan. Prior to joining AKU-IED, she worked in a number of community based health and literacy related development projects. She has extensive experience of working as planner, implementer, material developer and trainer in several education development projects, especially in adult literacy and women’s empowerment programmes both at the provincial and national levels.


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