Developing Capability and Agency through a Poverty-reduction Approach to Community Education and Sustainability in Botswana
Women in the Tswapong Region of Botswana depend on natural resources for their livelihood. These resources are seasonal and are often affected by unreliable rainfall patterns. Botswana government policies create sustainable, natural resource management opportunities. This article is based on research investigating how women in rural communities, and in the specific context of the Kgetsi-ya-Tsie (a community trust), who are dependent on arable agriculture and on natural resources are making an effort to reduce poverty. The research also sought to understand what constitutes quality and relevant education for the promotion of sustainable development in such a context. The research examined how women in the eastern part of Botswana exploit natural resources for subsistence and commercial reasons. It also examined the different skills employed by women to cope with economic and social challenges and to promote sustainability. Furthermore, the research explored the women’s/communities’ conceptions of quality and relevant adult education, capabilities, agency, and adult-education pedagogies in order to promote social change relating to poverty-reduction strategies among rural women. Data for this article was generated through a questionnaire, a research schedule, focus-group discussions, document analyses, interviews and observation. The results of this research show that the benefits of promoting social change relating to poverty-reduction strategies are increasing annually, although some challenges are reducing the enthusiasm of some members of Kgetsi-ya-Tsie. During the research, it emerged that the knowledge that is shared and learnt in communities of practice is social capital. Women connect at various levels, without the constraints of a formal structure, in order to acquire skills that enable them to be more resilient to environmental and economic challenges. They share their expertise and experiences, and they learn from one another through different ways of solving the problems they face, developing new capabilities, leveraging best practices, standardising practices, and increasing their talents. Poverty reduction requires multifaceted approaches by those affected and by government institutions offering opportunities for assistance. However, what has not emerged clearly from this ongoing research is how power is distributed among women in relation to strategies for coping with poverty and organisational practices.
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