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Capabilities and the global challenges of girls’ school enrolment and women’s literacy

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The education Millennium Development Goals have been highly influential on the priorities for education and concentrated policy efforts on numbers of girls enrolled in public sector schools offering basic education. This focus has been justified by human capital calculations of the social rates of return to basic schooling. This concern with quantities has met criticism from more qualitative researchers concerned with understanding not only why girls are not enrolled in school, but also why they may be irregular attenders and poor performers in public examinations even if they are enrolled. Alongside the efforts to achieve the education Millennium Development Goals have been initiatives to improve adult women’s literacies, often combined with an empowerment objective. This paper uses Sen’s capability approach to argue that improving deliberative processes is relevant for the well-being of girls and women of all ages.

Keywords: Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); capability approach; deliberation; girls’ school experiences; women’s literacy programmes

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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