An evaluation of the efficacy of stand-alone adult basic education material targeting women : The women's handbook.
This thesis evaluates a piece of educational printed material, The Women's Handbook. which was produced in the late 1990s as part of a joint project between the Midlands Women's Group (an NGO working around women's rights in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal), the Centre for Adult Education of the then University of Natal, and the national Commission on Gender Equality, a statutory body set up by the 1996 Constitution of South Africa. As a member of the Centre for Adult Education's staff I was integrally involved in the process of conceptualising and developing the Handbook, and was the overall co-ordinator of the project. As a result of the wide-spread changes in local government, as well as in development planning and processes, in the early 2000s the Centre and the Midlands Women's Group began considering the advisability of producing a revised edition. Although anecdotal evidence suggested that the Handbook had been widely used by the women to whom it had been distributed, it was decided that a thorough evaluation of the Handbook should be undertaken before any attempt was made to revise it. This thesis is a record of this evaluation. It begins with a theoretical exploration of what it means to evaluate an intervention, and uses this to argue that an evaluation of the Handbook requires a consideration of its theoretical underpinnings and of best practice in the field of materials development for adults with low levels of education, as well its use and impact. It then moves on to look at the Handbook in some detail, including the rationale for its development. The use and impact of the Handbook is then discussed, after which an attempt is made to identify the theoretical underpinnings of the Handbook. Best practice both in terms of product and process is discussed, and the Handbook compared to this. The concluding chapter then attempts to account for the findings. In its structure at least, then, this is not a 'typical' thesis. The review of pertinent literature, for example, is not contained in a single chapter, but rather dealt with within the appropriate chapter.