African female university students’ experiences of online education at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Keywords: gender inequities, online teaching and learning, material inequities, home environments, COVID-19 pandemic, agency


Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, universities in South Africa introduced remote online learning to ensure the continuation of the teaching endeavour. However, learning from home during a pandemic may be a challenge, especially for female students. The purpose of this research was to examine how African female university students’ home environments in a pandemic impact their experiences of remote online education and was underpinned by an African feminist theoretical framework. Using a critical paradigm, qualitative approach and single case study design, the data was generated from questionnaires and metaphors. An inductive thematic analysis of the data showed that home environments play an important role in the education of African female students, particularly in a context characterised by gender inequities and inequities in material resources. However, a sense of agency, displayed by some participants, is suggestive of  their determination to overcome the many forms of marginalisation and discrimination they experience.

Author Biographies

Ansurie Pillay, UKZN

Professor Pillay is an associate professor in the discipline of English Education. 

Martha Khosa, UKZN

Martha Khosa is a lecturer in the English Education Discipline.  

Bridget Campbell, UKZN

Bridget Campbell is a senior lecturer in the English Education Discipline. 

Nicholus Nyika, UKZN

Dr Nyika is a lecturer in the English Education discipline. 

Ayub Sheik, UKZN

Professor Sheik is an associate professor in the English Education Discipline.