It was so different!’ Well-being and Agency in Primary and Secondary Schools – Narratives of Tanzanian Women

Okkolin, Mari-Anne (2014). ''It was so different!' Well-being and Agency in Primary and Secondary Schools – Narratives of Tanzanian Women' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, 2-5 September 2014, Athens, Greece.

In this paper I depict Tanzanian women's experiences and insights in constructing their educational well-being and agency. The importance of out-of-school factors in advancing girls' and women's educational progress is well recognised, but in the paper the focus is on the women's school environments; in particular, I examine the rather drastic differences between women's primary and secondary school experiences. The analytical interest is directed on women's school attendance and encounters with fellow students and teachers. To phrase it differently, the paper unravels the physical school environments and facilities, the learning environments, that is, the ethos of the school, and human relations in schools.

On the basis of women's narratives, it would be somewhat easy to draw a long list of factors that constrained them to function and pursue goals that they have reason to value, but instead, the focus is on factors that supported women to construct educational well-being and agency. Women's well-being achievements are understood as for their functionings (what they have achieved); well-being freedoms are reflected in their sets of capabilities in the schools. Agency, in turn, transcends the analysis beyond the achievements and opportunities, and takes into consideration the agency goals that are various educational 'beings and doing's that the women have had a reason to value. Some notions are given for the analytical distinction between the functionings (well-being achievements) and personally valued functionings (agency achievements), which are not necessarily the same, so enhancing the adaptation of the concept and idea of freedom. In presenting women's experienced and perceived well-being and agency, the paper provides an alternative perspective to assess and evaluate educational progress. In doing so, the paper aims at contributing to the debates on advancing the achievement of substantive equality in education.

scroll to top