Youth, Gender and Education: Changing Landscapes of Work in Rural Sub-Saharan Africa (WE-SAY)

This project explored the intersections of work and education in the livelihoods and imagined futures of rural female youth in different contexts of Nigeria and South Africa, the two largest economies of Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • This collaboration was funded by the British Academy and involved Professor Barbara Crossouard and Professor Máiréad Dunne of the Centre for International Education (CIE), University of Sussex, UK, Professor Relebohile Moletsane, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa and Professor Dauda Moses, Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, Nigeria. The project began in March 2020 and - after initial delays to fieldwork because of the C19 pandemic - it concluded in May 2023. 
  • It used participatory visual methods and life history approaches to engage with rural female youth in two different contexts of each country.
  • Through its use of creative participatory methodologies, it supported female youth in interrogating the difficulties young women face in combining education and work and developing their agendas for social change.
  • Youth were involved throughout the project, including as youth researchers.

BASIR image (with smudging)

WE-SAY logoThe key research questions that the project addressed are:

  • How do female youth in rural contexts of Sub Saharan Africa understand ‘work’ and what significance does this have within their lives and imagined futures?
  • How have these female youth navigated the demands of work and education?
  • What are female youths’ agendas for social change with respect to work and how their work is valued?
  • What alternative conceptual frameworks can be developed to consider rural female youth’s livelihood activities?

The project has benefitted from the insights of a panel of critical friends with expertise in education and work in SSA, from wide-ranging backgrounds and contexts. These include:

  • Dr Obaapanin Oforiwaa Adu, University of Winneba, Ghana
  • Dr Benard Nyatuka, Kisii University, Kenya
  • Dr Gabriel Nonde Simungala, Chreso University, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Dr Sydney Mupeta, Chreso University, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Samuel Ikani, ActionAid, Nigeria
  • Dr Jim Sumberg, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK
  • Dr Paul Fean, Plan International, London, UK 
  • Lindelwe Nxumalo, ActionAid South Africa 
  • Professor Claudia Mitchell, McGill University, Toronto, Canada

WE-SAY: loskop village

The WE-SAY project began in March 2020. After suspensions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, fieldwork is currently underway with the project expected to run through until May 2023.