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Abstract

This paper reports on a qualitative case study of how Malawian girls experience schooling in single-sex versus coeducational institutions. It is a qualitative narrative depicting the socializing and learning processes which affect girls’ potential to succeed in mathematics and science subjects and careers. Further I use critical reflection to describe my own experiences as a student, teacher, and researcher at one of the single-sex boarding schools.

The results confirm other research findings that single-sex school environments are effective in building high expectations and aspirations for higher education among girls. In single-sex schools, girls held higher educational expectations and occupational aspirations for non-traditional careers than girls in coeducational schools. In coeducational schools girls’ abilities were marginalized by school administrators, teachers, and boys. Girls were seen as a distraction to the boys and faced sexual abuse and pressure to attend to their physical appearance. The paper advocates for the expansion of single-sex boarding schools for girls, group cohesion among girls in coeducational schools, gender streaming of math and science classes, gender equity training for teachers, and the increased practice of gender fair teaching.

Note on the Author

Margaret Asalele Mbilizi, Assistant Professor, Director, Office of International Initiatives Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education, Northern Illinois University College of Education

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