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Centre of African Studies: Research


Paper Details

Author: Abbi Wills

Title: And So To School? An Experimental Analysis of the Cognitive Sequelae of Violence-Related Trauma for Children in 'Especially Difficult Circumstances' in South Africa, and the Implications for the Delivery of 'Education for Reconstruction'

Year: 1998

This paper will analyse the impact of violence, political, structural and internecine, on the cognitive development of children in especially difficult circumstances in South Africa (children of the townships and streets), and the implications therein for the delivery of educational programmes as an emergency response to crisis situations. It will assess current literature concerning education for the reconstruction of disrupted societies, and argue that its contextual methodology under-emphasises the complexity of the issues at hand. In addition, it will challenge the contemporary discourse which underlies much Western research and from which interventionist strategies are devised. It will argue that concentration on universal themes and concepts not only impose Western hegemonic norms on societies and cultures outwith Western experience, but that this results in the misinterpretation of the data forthcoming from the field, and hence, leads to inappropriate and ineffective intervention. It will be suggested that if the impact of violence on the development of children is to be understood, a multi-disciplinary discourse is required, that recognises notions such as childhood, violence and trauma as social constructs, and which incorporates the contexts inherent in the lives of these children, not only into research, but into the design and implementation of intervention programmes.