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Context matters: fostering, orphanhood and schooling in sub-Saharan Africa

Hampshire, Kate; Porter, Gina; Agblorti, Samuel; Robson, Elsbeth; Munthali, Alister; Abane, Albert


Kate Hampshire

Gina Porter

Samuel Agblorti

Alister Munthali

Albert Abane


A growing body of research suggests that orphanhood and fostering might be (independently) associated with educational disadvantage in sub-Saharan Africa. However, literature on the impacts of orphanhood and fostering on school enrolment, attendance and progress produces equivocal, and often conflicting, results. This paper reports on quantitative and qualitative data from sixteen field-sites in Ghana and Malawi, highlighting the importance of historical and social context in shaping schooling outcomes for fostered and orphaned children. In Malawi, which has been particularly badly affected by AIDS, orphans were less likely to be enrolled in and attending school than other children. By contrast, in Ghana, with its long tradition of ‘kinship fostering’, orphans were not significantly educationally disadvantaged; instead, non-orphaned, purposively fostered children had lower school enrolment and attendance than their peers. Understanding the context of orphanhood and fostering in relation to schooling is crucial in achieving ‘Education for All’.


Hampshire, K., Porter, G., Agblorti, S., Robson, E., Munthali, A., & Abane, A. (2015). Context matters: fostering, orphanhood and schooling in sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of biosocial science, 47(2), 141-164.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date May 1, 2014
Publication Date 2015-03
Deposit Date Apr 20, 2015
Publicly Available Date Apr 20, 2015
Journal Journal of biosocial science
Print ISSN 0021-9320
Electronic ISSN 1469-7599
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Issue 2
Pages 141-164
Keywords Fostering, Orphans, Sub-Saharan Africa, Schooling
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2015 University of Hull
Additional Information Copy of article first published in: Journal of biosocial science, 2014, v47, issue 2


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