n South African Journal of Education - Gender differentials and sustainable learning environments

Volume 31, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



The centrality of quality education provisioning for all towards a better and socially just life is acknowledged globally. To date, however, there are still skewed gender differentials unfavourable to girls, thus impeding gender equality. In this paper I report on the reasons for leaving school early cited by out-of-school girls in North-West Province, South Africa. These reasons are juxtaposed against those cited by out-of-school boys to show how powerful gender as 'positioning in discourses' appears to be. Structured focus group interviews using the adapted version of 'Masitsa's inventory' were conducted. Qualitative data were coded and analysed based on frequency tables. The findings reveal that more girls than boys say they leave school early owing to: repeated failure; long distance to and from school; pregnancy; poverty; ill-health; attraction of odd jobs; looking after siblings; lack of motivation; early marriage, and criminal activity. The conclusion, therefore, is that if schools in the context of the community can become sustainable learning environments privileging girls' concerns, they can assist in resolving these problems of skewed gender differentials. This could lead towards achievement of a socially just life for all.

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