Pursuing higher education in contexts of socio-spatial exclusion: a scoping study of the educational trajectories of youth from informal settlements 

Research team: Faith Mkwananzi and Mikateko Mathebula

Funder: Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE; £ 4,851)

Period: 2022-2023

The aim of this project is to explore education trajectories in contexts of social and spatial exclusion, by documenting through participatory processes how youth living in informal settlements in South Africa access and participate in higher education.

The overarching and interrelated objectives are to explore the meanings of higher education in informal spaces, and to document and share, through life histories and photovoice, how youth in informal settlements access higher education.

The research questions are:

  • How do youth in informal settlements mobilize their agency and social networks to access higher education?
  • What role does higher education play in advancing youths’ capabilities within and beyond the informal settlements from which they come?
  • What informal spaces of learning exist that can be supported and expanded within and beyond informal settlements?
  • What can universities learn from the experiences of youth in informal settlements?

This scoping study will identify if there is evidence that can be gathered to make a case for further empirical research on the higher education trajectories of youth from informal settlements across the country.

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