ISSN 1753-0849

Childhoods Today Online JournalChildhoods Today

An online journal for childhood studies

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Volume 1 Issue 1 - July 27, 2007

Trapped between disparate worlds? The livelihoods, socialisation and school contexts of rural children in Ethiopia

Tatek Abebe

This paper explores the relationships between the livelihoods and education or schooling of rural school-age boys and girls in Gedeo, southern Ethiopia. Based on empirical material derived from seven months of qualitative fieldwork, it demonstrates the unique positions children find themselves in due to shifting livelihoods and changing processes of socialisation. The paper documents multiple contradictions between children’s experiences today and what they are required to know in order to become adult members of society, and between their aspirations in life and their real life experiences. It is argued that children’s daily experiences at work and within their families is essential for meeting the requirements in order to earn a living locally. However, this process has come under pressure, in some instances even being discontinued, due to altered sources of livelihoods and inappropriate school education. The findings of the study suggest that children’s perspectives and their livelihoods should be at the heart of contemporary debate on educational reform in Ethiopia.