Shaping geographies of informal education: a global South perspective

This paper aims to shape understandings of the geographies of informal education by exploring an aspect of education that has been broadly overlooked by geographers to date – apprenticeships – within a global South context. Drawing on qualitative research conducted in Accra, Ghana, where young male and female apprentices learn a trade alongside master craftspeople, the nature of the apprenticeship system and how it is evolving are explored. The paper develops an analytical framework for examining the dynamics of informal education with three core elements: the people and everyday praxes; the materialities, technologies, and spatialities of the learning process; and the regulatory apparatus. The apprenticeship system in Ghana is shown to be constantly evolving, with some aspects of the learning process remaining informal, some being formalized, whilst others are informalised, the extent and nature of these processes varying between trades and over time. The paper thus demonstrates how the boundary between informal and formal education is far from clear-cut, with processes of informalisation and formalization occurring concomitantly. Calls are made to expand the agenda of geographies of informal education in both the global North and South to incorporate livelihood-related issues, including apprenticeships, and geographers are challenged to rethink the informal/formal education divide within education. This timely research thus forms part of broader trends to consider how addressing the global South forces a rethinking and revisioning of theoretical frameworks.