‘Now I am free’—education and human resource development in Eritrea: contradictions in the lives of Eritrean women in higher education

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Human resource development as an objective of education policy in developing countries is increasingly narrowed down to its human capital component. In Eritrea, the objective of a highly centralized human resource development strategy is to produce human capital for the advancement of the nation. This instrumentalist view ignores the fact that education is not only related to one’s position in a given society, but equally to the development of personal identity and new forms of agency on an individual level—thus potentially encompassing contradictions between the individual and the common good. This paper—based on the personal histories of a sample of female students at Asmara University—discusses these contradictions in terms of these women’s acceptance of and resistance to the government’s plan for them. It further argues that an education system geared predominantly towards the creation of human capital is bound to do so at the expense of social solidarity.

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