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Inequality, capabilities and poverty in four African countries: girls’ voice, schooling, and strategies for institutional change

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Children’s adaptive preference and capabilities are considered in relation to literature on children’s voice, agency and adult adaptation. Data collected for projects on gender and schooling in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria are analysed to show how adaptation and distinctions between absolute and relative poverty are helpful in interpreting why children in some locations identify particular obstacles and solutions while others are silent on these. Children comment on constraints on capabilities differently in areas of relative and absolute inequality. School conditions, earnings, and the implementation of legal frameworks on early marriage and pregnancy highlight forms of structural and relational coercion that constrain capabilities. The findings suggest a relationship between relative inequality and children’s capability to aspire and consider change. This points to the significance of improving learning materials, opportunities for travel and exchange, and teacher confidence and support in schools that serve the poorest children.

Keywords: Kenya; Nigeria; South Africa; Tanzania; adaptation; gender; inequality; schooling

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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