Narratives of motivation to learn and barriers to formal opportunities of female general assistants at a Durban school.
This interpretivist study looked at what acted as barriers and what motivated a group offive African women, aged about 30 working at a Durban school, to take up formal learning experiences. Qualitative data, through the use ofsemi structured interviews, on a one-to-one basis was collected. This involved elliciting each woman' account of her educational and work experience, as a learner and a worker. Themes like unemployment ofone or both parents; limitations imposed by the patriarchial culture they come from; gender issues like not valuing educating girls and the diverse role which women play in the lives of a family; domestic violence and abuse; adolescent pregnancy; previous learning experiences; fmancial limitations perpetuated in adult life because ofthe inability to access jobs which allow for the" luxury" ofpursuing educational courses and supporting extended family who live in the rural areas ofKwazulu-Natal or the Transkei surfaced. These themes were evaluated against the tenets ofMaslow's hierarchy ofneeds, Knowles's theory ofwhat comprises ideal adult learning situations; whether Mezirow's suggestion that learning will be precipitated by rethinking the ways people behave; and Tajfels' theory on personal and social identity. Using the perspectives offeminist writers like hooks, Hill Collins, and Magwaza this study looked at the role that culture, class and gender has played in the lives ofthese participants.