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The edu-workscape: Re-conceptualizing the relationship between work and education in rural children’s lives in Sub-Saharan Africa

Máiréad Dunne and Sara Humphreys

World Development Perspectives, 2022, vol. 27, issue C

Abstract: This article contributes to ongoing debates surrounding ‘child labour’ and education, by offering an alternative framework of analysis, which we apply to rural Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In contrast to the dominant Child’s Rights discourse of the ILO and Sustainable Development Goals, which largely place ‘child labour’ and education (in the narrow sense of schooling) in an oppositional relationship that prioritises schooling, we propose a more nuanced conceptual framework, which we term the “edu-workscape”. This framework aims to capture the complex, dynamic and context-specific nature of children’s working and educational lives. We apply the framework to explore ‘education’ and ‘work’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘harm’ and ‘hazardous work’, across three interwoven and overlapping social arenas: the household, school, and the workplace. This we do through a purposive critical literature review of largely qualitative studies in rural SSA, where the largest numbers of young people are estimated to be both ‘in child labour’ and ‘out of school’. In this review, we first unpick the dominant understandings of ‘work, childhood’ and ‘education’ and question some of the common assumptions about their relationship. In particular, we highlight some of the gendered ways in which rural schools can add to young people’s burden of work and can cause harm. In applying our framework, we demonstrate how work, learning and harm can apply across the whole edu-workscape in ways that interact, are dynamic, gendered and context-dependent. We therefore argue that any judgements about children’s workloads, learning or harm need to take account of this.

Keywords: Child labour; Education; Sub-Saharan Africa; Rural livelihoods; Research methodologies; Gender (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.wdp.2022.100443

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