Jennifer Thompson presents report to the Pan-African Literacy for All Conference: "Girls' Empowerment through Language and Literacy: A Landscape Review of Gender and Literacy Research in African Contexts"

Published: 29 September 2017

Jennifer Thompson, PhD candidate with our Department of Integrated Studies in Education, recently presented the report Girls' Empowerment through Language and Literacy: A Landscape Review of Gender and Literacy Research in African Contexts to the 10th Pan-African Literacy for All Conference held in Abuja, Nigeria (August 28-30, 2017). 

The report was commissioned by Canadian literacy and education NGO, CODE. CODE works in partnership with local organizations in eight African countries as well as in Canada and in the Caribbean to support libraries and teacher development as well as national and local book publishing in 17 languages.

CODE’s “Context Matters” initiative addresses how research on literacy and reading has largely been carried out in high-income countries and contexts and generalized to low-income countries and contexts. The “Context Matters” initiative seeks to lessen the reliance of practitioners in Africa on external evidence by supporting meaningful literacy research that reflects local contexts and supports local researchers. To begin the conversation, CODE commissioned two landscape literature reviews and one policy analysis from Canadian Faculties of Education (University of British Columbia and McGill University) with peer input from faculty at numerous African universities. The reports were developed to stimulate conversation and develop a research agenda.

Thompson's report presents an overview of literature in the area of gender and literacy, including research about the policy environment, literacy practices, reading materials, sexual health literacies, and gender-responsive school environments. The report identifies possible areas for research to inform CODE activities with an emphasis on the feminist approach and priorities identified in Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy.

The reports produced by researchers at the University of British Columbia include:

  • Africa Language and Literacy: A Landscape Review of Language and Literacy Research in African Contexts. Author: Espen Stranger-Johannessen. Editors: Dr. Bonny Norton and Dr. Marlene Asselin.
  • Local-global tensions in African literacy policies: Towards an asset perspective of literacy. A policy review paper. Author: Dr. Kapil Dev Regmi. Editor: Dr. Marlene Asselin.

The reports were presented as part of a full-day Research Symposium, “Developing a Literacy Education Research Agenda in Africa” organized by CODE. A critical part of this process included responses to the reviews by a panel of African educators - Dr. Samuel Andema, The Aga Khan University, Tanzania; Dr. Haregewoin Fantahun Eshete, University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Ms. Leontina Muchangos, Associação Progresso, Mozambique; and Dr. Chinwe A. Muodumogu, Benue State University, Nigeria - and discussion groups for conference attendees to identify priority areas for a research agenda.

Please click here to read or download the reports at

Jennifer Thompson is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Professor Claudia Mitchell. Thompson's research explores the relationship between gender, development, and the environment using participatory visual methodologies. Building on her background in engineering and education, Jennifer's doctoral work focuses on gender and the politics of water governance in Cameroon.

Claudia Mitchell is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education, and Director of the McGill Institute for Human Development and Well-Being (IHDW). She has written extensively in the area of girlhood studies and is the co-founder and editor-in-chief for the award-winning Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Dr. Mitchell was recently named a Research Fellow of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau FoundationIn 2016 Mitchell received the top research honour of the SSHRC, the Gold Medal, and was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Back to top