“Why Do Rural Girls Migrate To Urban Areas? Understanding the Links Between Migration And Secondary Education in Ethiopia”

Yorke, Louise (2016). '“Why Do Rural Girls Migrate To Urban Areas? Understanding the Links Between Migration And Secondary Education in Ethiopia”' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract Girls’ secondary education is said to bring many benefits for girls and their families, especially those living in poverty. However, inequalities across gender, region, socio-economic status and urban-rural divide mean that access to secondary education is particularly challenging for many girls in rural Ethiopia. On the supply side, the lack of available secondary schools coupled with the low quality of education creates specific challenges for those wishing to access secondary school. On the demand side, poverty, restrictive traditional and cultural expectations and practices, heavy domestic work burdens and the low value placed on girls’ education by their families make accessing secondary education difficult for rural girls in particular. In response to the many challenges rural girls face in accessing and participating in secondary education in Ethiopia, many girls from rural areas are now migrating to urban areas in order to pursue their secondary education based on the belief that education will lead them to better social outcomes, increased economic prospects and enhanced well-being (Boyden, 2012). However, there has been little research investigating this phenomenon in-depth and thus there is still very little understanding concerning the general and unique pathways of rural girls to (and within) urban areas, including the factors that influence the decision to migrate, their experiences in urban settings, or their journeys through secondary education and beyond. As such, it is yet unclear whether the high investment of girls and their families in secondary education is worthwhile for either girls or their families or whether it has the potential to offer them a route out of poverty. This study explores the migration of rural girls and women to urban areas for secondary education from their own perspectives. The objectives are threefold: To understand how young women value education, both as an outcome and as a means for achieving a better life, and how their families, communities and wider society shape these values. To explore the supports and barriers that influence girls’ ability to pursue their secondary education. To consider the opportunities and outcomes available to young women after completing secondary education. Participants include girls from rural areas who have migrated to urban areas for secondary education, rural girls who have migrated to urban areas but have either failed to enter into secondary education or have dropped out and rural girls in a secondary school in a rural area. Participants are placed at the center of the research process and are viewed as active agents in their own lives who values and insights matter (Alkire & Deneulin, 2009; Deneulin, 2009; Deneulin & Shanani, 2009; Frediani, 2007; Robeyns, 2011; Unterhalter, 2009). A combination of participatory video, group discussions and life story interviews are used to help rural girls to tell their stories. A particular advantage of the study is its ability to make connections across issues of rural poverty, gender, migration and education. The findings have particular relevance for efforts to increase girls’ participation in secondary education in Ethiopia, and also contribute to the wider debate on the role of girls’ secondary education in development. As such, the study has the potential to offer insights to which are particularly relevant to the capability approach and help to understand the relationship between participation in secondary education and equity and social justice (Alkire & Deneulin, 2009; Deneulin, 2009; Deneulin & Shanani, 2009; Robeyns, 2011; Unterhalter, 2009).  

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