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Left out and let down: A study on empowerment and access to education for young mothers in post-Ebola Sierra Leone

Pärnebjörk, Alexandra LU (2017) STVM25 20162
Department of Political Science
Abstract
Sierra Leone has struggled with high rates of adolescent pregnancy for some time and reports have shown an increase in these figures during and following the unprecedented Ebola Virus Disease outbreak from 2014 through 15. As young girls are impregnated, it has long been customary for girls to drop out of school. When schools re-opened after the Ebola crisis, this practice was formalized as the Minister for Education declared that visibly pregnant girls would not be welcomed back to school. As a consequence of pressure exerted on the government by development partners and human rights activists, non-formal education in the form of learning centres were set up to function as a bridge programme to get affected girls back to school, and... (More)
Sierra Leone has struggled with high rates of adolescent pregnancy for some time and reports have shown an increase in these figures during and following the unprecedented Ebola Virus Disease outbreak from 2014 through 15. As young girls are impregnated, it has long been customary for girls to drop out of school. When schools re-opened after the Ebola crisis, this practice was formalized as the Minister for Education declared that visibly pregnant girls would not be welcomed back to school. As a consequence of pressure exerted on the government by development partners and human rights activists, non-formal education in the form of learning centres were set up to function as a bridge programme to get affected girls back to school, and 14,500 girls were enrolled. This thesis draws upon empowerment theory and feminist methodologies to explore experiences among young mothers in relation to their access to education. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine girls and their stories were analyzed through a thematic narrative analysis centered around their perception of their empowerment and the challenges they face when trying to get back to school. The findings of this study show that while the government’s statements formalizing this ban opened a window of opportunity to enable girls to continue their schooling, the main obstacles they encounter have to do with financial constraints, societal neglect and stigmatization. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the design of the learning centres lacked efficient communications and many of the girls expressed disappointment as their expectations were not met. (Less)
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author
Pärnebjörk, Alexandra LU
supervisor
organization
course
STVM25 20162
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Adolescent pregnancy, Development, Education, Empowerment, Gender, Non-formal education, Reproductive health
language
English
additional info
First off, thanks to Sida and Lund University, for granting me the minor field study scholarship that enabled me to go to Freetown, Sierra Leone, and to my supervisor Annika Bergman Rosamond for her support and guidance as I concluded my 5+ years of university studies with this thesis.

I’d also like to thank my dear friends, Linnéa and Jon van Wagenen, who invited me to Freetown and let me stay with them. Thank you for the laughs and all the indispensable feedback along the way. A special thanks to Michele Bornstein for taking an interest in my thesis, and for helping me navigate through this process. Neither the experience nor the end product would’ve been the same without you.

Finally, and most importantly, I’d like to thank the brave young women who agreed to meet with me and tell me about their lives, loves and struggles. It is with great pride and humility I present their voices in this thesis, and I wish all the best for them and their little ones.
id
8896611
date added to LUP
2017-02-08 16:10:08
date last changed
2017-02-08 16:10:08
@misc{8896611,
  abstract     = {Sierra Leone has struggled with high rates of adolescent pregnancy for some time and reports have shown an increase in these figures during and following the unprecedented Ebola Virus Disease outbreak from 2014 through 15. As young girls are impregnated, it has long been customary for girls to drop out of school. When schools re-opened after the Ebola crisis, this practice was formalized as the Minister for Education declared that visibly pregnant girls would not be welcomed back to school. As a consequence of pressure exerted on the government by development partners and human rights activists, non-formal education in the form of learning centres were set up to function as a bridge programme to get affected girls back to school, and 14,500 girls were enrolled. This thesis draws upon empowerment theory and feminist methodologies to explore experiences among young mothers in relation to their access to education. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine girls and their stories were analyzed through a thematic narrative analysis centered around their perception of their empowerment and the challenges they face when trying to get back to school. The findings of this study show that while the government’s statements formalizing this ban opened a window of opportunity to enable girls to continue their schooling, the main obstacles they encounter have to do with financial constraints, societal neglect and stigmatization. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the design of the learning centres lacked efficient communications and many of the girls expressed disappointment as their expectations were not met.},
  author       = {Pärnebjörk, Alexandra},
  keyword      = {Adolescent pregnancy,Development,Education,Empowerment,Gender,Non-formal education,Reproductive health},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Left out and let down: A study on empowerment and access to education for young mothers in post-Ebola Sierra Leone},
  year         = {2017},
}