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The objective of this transformative action research project was to explore and develop sustainable methods to promote female empowerment through science education in rural, disadvantaged sectors of South Africa. In an attempt to achieve this we collaborated with local community members to develop and implement a contextualized science curriculum at a school in the aforementioned setting. As soon as the project was launched it became increasingly clear that although the ideology of ‘empowerment through science education’ seemed a promising venture, it could also be an extremely complex and often frustrating undertaking. This was especially true when working within an unfamiliar cultural setting. Numerous challenges, such as the lack of teacher motivation, malnutrition amongst the learners, and conflicts stemming from differences between the indigenous knowledge and the western concept of science, greatly impeded the delivery of quality education in the area. These challenges had to be addressed both in pedagogical and practical terms before any attempt towards libratory education could be made. This article sheds light on the complex inter-relationship between the human factor and the organizational and physical infrastructure at a school. It begins with a brief description of the local context and goes on to identify the theoretical underpinnings and chosen methodology for the project. The article concludes with a review of the complexities involved in possible attempts to initiate and foster educational and social transformations in a rural South African setting. We contend that it is essential to first be thoroughly familiar with the background, culture, and needs of any community before any attempts are made towards social justice.

Publication Date

January 2018

Publication Title

Educational Action Research





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