Skip to content

Toggle service links

The Professional Lives and Values of Female Teachers in Rural Sub-Saharan African Schools: A Capability Perspective


Alison Buckler


An Open University and Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) Programme funded PhD project, October 2009-September 2012. Supervised by Hazel Johnson and Bob Moon.

Aims and objectives

This is an in-depth study of seven female teachers living and working in rural primary schools in five countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Sudan. The study argues that there are key differences between how the work of teachers is interpreted by teachers and policy makers and uses Amartya Sen's Capability Approach to frame this argument. The capability approach is interested in the freedom - or capability - people have to pursue things that they value. Things that are valued are known as functionings. While the capability approach has traditionally been used to frame issues of human welfare (focusing on the pursuit of things that enhance personal well-being) this study focuses on the pursuit of things that are valued in teachers' work. The thesis proposes an alternative understanding of teacher effectiveness: the capability to achieve valued functionings in their work.


Buckler, A (2015) Quality Teaching and the Capability Approach: Evaluating the Work and Governance of Women Teachers in Rural sub-Saharan Africa, UK, Routledge.
Buckler, A (2015) 'Teacher Quality in Rural sub-Saharan Africa: Different Perspectives, Values and Capabilities', International Journal of Educational Development, 40: 126-133.
Buckler, A (2014) 'Teachers' Professional Capabilities in sub-Saharan Africa: Demonstrating and Debating a Method of Capability Selection and Analysis', Journal of Human Development and Capabilities (published online, DOI: 10.1080/19452829.2014.991706).

Buckler, A (2012) Understanding the Professional Lives of Female Teachers in Rural sub-Saharan African Schools: A Capability Perspective, PhD thesis, The Open University. (Awarded 2nd place in the British Educational Research Association (BERA) doctoral thesis competition, 2013.)

Buckler, A (2011) 'Reconsidering the Evidence Base, Considering the Rural: Aiming for a Better Understanding of the Education and Training Needs of sub-Saharan African Teachers', International Journal of Educational Development, 31(3): 244-250.


Buckler, A (2013) 'Teachers' professional lives in rural sub-Saharan Africa: An analysis of different perspectives, values and capabilities', paper presented at 12th UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development, University of Oxford, UK.

Buckler, A (2009) 'Building a policy understanding of the lives of female teachers working in rural schools in sub-Saharan Africa', paper presented at 9th UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development, University of Oxford, September, 2009.