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Title: Imagining 'demand' for girls' schooling in rural Pakistan
Author: Oppenheim, Willy
ISNI:       0000 0004 6421 4139
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This study explores the normative frameworks through which selected parents, students, teachers, and education activists in three villages in rural Pakistan understand and articulate the value of girls' schooling. It argues that within the dominant analytical paradigms of human capital theory and neoliberalism, researchers and policymakers have tended to conceptualise 'demand' for schooling in terms that are narrowly focused upon measuring and boosting enrolment, and thus have failed to capture whether and how shifting enrolments correspond to shifting norms and to the broader imaginative regimes through which differently located actors experience and produce the gendered value of schooling. Typical analyses of 'demand' for girls' schooling have mostly focused upon what factors of schooling provision are most likely to increase parents' willingness to send their daughters to school, and thus inadvertently conflate 'demand' with 'supply' and reveal very little about whether or how such factors influence normative evaluations of girls' schooling by parents, children, teachers, and others across various contexts where enrolment is on the rise. This oversight hinders efforts at comparison that are critical for planning and interpreting transnational initiatives for achieving gender equality in and through schooling. To improve upon this trend, this study illustrates a) the normative evaluations that underpin selected instances of 'demand' for girls' schooling in three villages in rural Pakistan, and b) how these normative evaluations have changed over time and in relation to particular interventions. Using data from seventeen weeks of fieldwork spanning two villages in the southern Punjab and one in Gilgit-Baltistan, the study explores perspectives about the value of girls' schooling in relation to the key themes of marriage, employment, and purdah. By bringing this data into comparison with mainstream discouses about 'demand,' the study highlights the limitations of those discourses and charts a path for further comparative inquiry. Findings illustrate how normative perspectives about girls' schooling are differentially contested and transformed over time even as enrolment trends converge across contexts, and suggest that researchers and practitioners concerned with promoting gender equality in and through schooling should lend greater attention to the social interactions through which 'norm-making' occurs. This sort of attention to 'norm-making' can reveal new opportunities for intervention, but also, and perhaps more importantly, it inspires humility by demonstrating that all normative evaluations of schooling - whether emerging from education 'experts' or from farmers in rural villages - reflect socially and historically situated notions of personhood, none of which is more 'natural' than any other.
Supervisor: Johnson, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Girls--Education--Pakistan ; Education--Social aspects--Pakistan ; Pakistan--Social conditions