Teachers stories of girl empowerment in diverse primary schools.
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This study, “Teachers’ stories of girl empowerment in diverse primary schools”, underscores teachers’ lives as powerful sites for girl empowerment. This thesis, explores the lived stories of teachers in the context of their lives and teaching experiences with girl learners in primary schools. Four composed stories of Lyn, Sanelisiwe, Irene and Selvan, span their childhood, their experiences as learners and their current teaching practices. This is a qualitative study located in the interpretative paradigm. Drawing on a narrative inquiry approach, I utilized a range of methods for data generation: collage inquiry, artefact retrieval, photovoice and metaphor analogy. These arts-based methods were useful in responding to my three critical research questions. Guided by the work of Connelly and Clandinin, I created four rich stories around my participants’ personal lives and their personal and professional experiences of girl empowerment. My four participants, three female and one male live and work in KwaZulu-Natal. My participants teach in diverse primary schools within different contexts in the historically divided educational landscape of South Africa. Lyn and Irene teach at an ex-model C school, Sanelisiwe teaches at a rural school and Selvan teaches at an ex-HOD school. To analyse data, I employed the Sociocultural Theory of Vygotsky and Rowland’s Empowerment/Leadership Framework. Using a socio-cultural theoretical lens, I was able elicit critical moments in the lives of my participants that shaped and continue to shape their understanding of girl empowerment. Lyn, Sanelisiwe, Irene and Selvan had to negotiate very conservative and contradictory positions within their social contexts, to acquire agency and voice. From their personal experiences teachers obtain meanings of girl empowerment which influence their professional lives as teachers. These teachers use their subjects, personal interest and extra-mural activities to enact practices, formal and informal, that build self-confidence and self-esteem in girl learners. This study highlights the emotional care, love, inspiration and support teachers provide to girl learners which enable the development of ‘self.’ This in turn facilitates empowerment. My study illuminates the influence and the vital role teachers play in empowering girl learners in primary schools.