School of Education

Summa Cum Laude for Masters in Education Graduate

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Her research explored young people’s consumption of online sexually explicit materials and how this influences their views on and understandings of sexuality, race and gender, as well as their emotional and physical sexual development.

‘My hopes have always been to contribute to the reformation of the current schooling education system, specifically that related to Life Orientation. Some important topics exist in this curriculum, but it is a far cry from being a comprehensive, progressive and inclusive theoretical and pedagogical framework. There needs to be serious transformation if young people are to be fully engaged in sexuality and gender-related topics that directly affect their everyday live and wellbeing’ said Carboni.

She hopes that her study will challenge widespread protectionist discourse which perpetuates notions of young people, especially girls, as naïve, innocent and asexual. ‘These constructs of youth sexuality only cause more harm and undermine young people’s sexual agency and rights,’ she said.

Carboni faced ethical challenges throughout the research process, because of how controversial the topic was perceived to be, especially by government departments, parents and schools.

‘Placing young people at the intersection of pornography, sexual agency and pleasure is taboo in a still very conservative South African society. As a result of the issues I faced as both a researcher and educator in some of the schools, my supervisor Professor Deevia Bhana and I decided that writing a journal article on the ethical dilemmas of conducting sex research with young people would be really useful in illuminating these difficulties for other researchers,’ explained Carboni.

Nevertheless, engaging young people on this topic was a fascinating and incredibly worthwhile experience. ‘I was made to confront my own prejudices and worldviews around the topic as I discovered more and more about the way in which they navigate the online sexual playing field,’ she said.

Carboni thanked her family, friends and supervisor for their support. Offering advice to other researchers, she said, ‘Never doubt yourself, and honour the different parts of the unique ebb and flow of your journey as none is the same, and that is what makes Social Science research so exciting and memorable.’

Carboni is currently completing her Masters in Community-based Counselling Psychology at The University of The Witwatersrand. Carboni’s interests are located at the intersection of sexuality, gender, queer and race related topics. She hopes to find a diverse and inclusive working space in the near future that offers possibilities for the application of her knowledge and skills in ways which move towards advancing the rights of previously disadvantaged, minority and ‘at risk’ people.

Ms Nicolette Carboni was awarded her Masters in Education summa cum laude.

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