“You Can’t Feed the Heart and the Brain at the Same Time”: Relationship and Schooling Trajectories in Malawi

Margaret Frye, University of California, Berkeley

This paper employs a linked set of qualitative and quantitative sources to compare the cultural model linking romantic relationships and scholastic failure with students’ relationship and schooling outcomes as they unfold over time. Data from over 100 in-depth interviews reveal that both teachers and students view relationships as threats to scholastic success. Survey data on 843 in-school respondents indicate that students who began the study in a relationship are more likely to have left school by the end of the observation period, two years subsequent. The primary mechanisms emerging from the interviews through which relationships “ruin” academic trajectories are examined in turn: pregnancy, absenteeism, and poor academic performance. These analyses reveal strong gender differences in how relationships shape schooling trajectories: female students in relationships are more likely to drop out of school, while male students in relationships are more likely to be absent from school and perform poorly on examinations.

  See paper

Presented in Poster Session 7