The news magazine about the education of girls and women in Afri c a. Volume 8 Number 3 July - September PDF

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The news magazine about the education of girls and women in Afri c a Volume 8 Number 3 July - September 2000 About FAWE The Forum for African Women Educationalists is a non-government organization registered
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The news magazine about the education of girls and women in Afri c a Volume 8 Number 3 July - September 2000 About FAWE The Forum for African Women Educationalists is a non-government organization registered in Kenya in The Forum has 27 full members who are African women ministers of education and women vice chancellors of universities, 36 associate members comprising male ministers of education and permanent secretaries and former full members of the Forum, as well as National Chapters in 31 African countries. FAWE s Vision It is FAWE s vision that by the year 2004 gender disparities in education will be significantly reduced, and more girls will have access to schooling, complete their studies and perform well at all levels. FAWE s Mission Statement FAWE will work at continental, national and local levels, together with its partners, to create positive societal attitudes to reinforce policies and practices that promote equity for girls in t e rms of access, retention, perf o r- mance and quality, through influencing the transformation of educational systems in Africa. FAWE s Goals Overall Goal To increase access and retention as well as improve the quality of education for all girls within the school system, and women in universities. Strategic Objectives FAWE will undertake the following strategic objectives for the years : To influence the formulation and adoption of educational policies on girls education in order to increase access and improve retention and performance. To build public awareness and concensus on the social and economic advantages of girls education through advocacy. To undertake and support experimental and innovative demonstration programmes to increase girls participation in education. To empower girls through education for effective participation in the creation of an equitable society. To create and sustain partnerships with governments, donors, universities, NGOs, communities and other partners in education for effective implementation of programmes to improve girls education. To strengthen its own organizational capacity to effectively implement p rogrammes that promote girls education. 2 Volume 8 Number 3 July-Sept The Gender Gap in Education in Sub-Saharan Africa - Status and Trends 7 What are the Issues behind the Increasing Rates of Dropping out of School by Young People in Sub-Saharan Africa? 8 Focus on Poverty 11 What can we do to Fight Poverty and therefore curb Dropout among Girls 16 Adolescent Sexuality and Pregnancy 21 Sexual Harassment - A Major Hinderance to Learning 27 The Way Forward Departments 3 Editorial 4 Letters 28 Calendar of Events FAWE News is published quarterly by the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAW E ) to report on the education of girls and women across Africa. The Crew Editorial Committee Penina Mlama Lornah Murage Makau Ngola Margaret Crouch Rose Washika Art and Design Director Joab Owiro FORUM FOR AFRICAN WOMEN EDUCATIONALISTS (FAWE) 12th Floor, International House Mama Ngina Street P.O. Box 53168, Nairobi, Kenya Tel: (254) Fax: (254) Website: http//:www.fawe.org Missing out on FAWE News?... Got anything to say..? FAWE News welcomes letters and contributions from readers. ISSN here is great concern in Africa today that gains made in improving girls participation in education in the last two decades are being eroded by large numbers of girls who are dropping out of schools. Many are dropping out even before completion of the primary cycle. Those who leave school before mastering basic writing and reading skills frequently relapse into illiteracy and as future adults add to an already high percentage of illiterate women. Following the World Education Forum in Dakar in April 2000, most countries in sub-saharan Africa renewed their commitment to fight causes responsible for girls leaving school prematurely. This issue of FAWE News looks at the problem of wastage in education under the theme Closing the Gender Gap in Girls Education: Curbing Dropout. It reviews strategies and promising interventions that various governments and organizations like FAWE and other agencies are putting in place to combat dropout. There is special focus on poverty, the major underlying cause for large numbers of young people, particularly girls, dropping out of school in sub-saharan Africa, and also the reason for the widening rural-urban education gap. We revisit progress made by countries in formulating and implementing policies on teenage pregnancy, and in particular, re-entry policies for girls who had been forced to leave school due to pregnancy. Finally, this issue of FAWE News looks at the efforts of a few courageous institutions in sub-saharan Africa, who are starting to do something about sexual harassment in their midst, even as this insidious monster continues to spread its tentacles across the whole educational setup, from lower primary schools to universities. Prof. Penina Mlama FAWE Executive Director We hope that this issue will spark action on your part to start doing something about this problem of girls dropping out of school prematurely. It has to be acknowledged indeed that we are still a far cry from basic Education for All, that it is still but a distant dream for hundreds of millions of children, women and men Koïchiro Matsura Director General, UNESCO, at the World Education Forum, April 2000, Dakar Senegal 3 *************************** My Teacher There was a teacher whom I may say that he was not a good teacher. One day this teacher called me and told me to go and mop the office. I didn t refuse to do what he told me. I went, collected water and started mopping. When I was still doing the work he arrived and asked me a question that was very difficult to answer. I went and told my friends about the question he asked me and my friend advised me not to listen to him any more. One day when I looked back and saw him I ran away and reached a group of women and we walked together. When he saw that I was in a group of old people he went back. When I reached home I told my mother about what the teacher had told me and my mother told me to report the teacher to the senior woman. I did so and the senior woman reported the man to the headmaster. The headmaster sent the teacher out of the school. I am now settled. Angela Nakintu Grade 6 *************************** 4 Dear FAW E, I humbly submit this letter thro u g h your Chapter in Ug a n d a. First I would like FAWE to p re vent further pregnancies in school completely by sending some re p re s e n t a t i ves from your offices to schools in Uganda to teach them the side effects of early pre g n a n c i e s. Se c o n d l y, I would like yo u to give advice to male teachers and b oys to stop raping, defiling and befriending girls in school with an aim of ruining their future. Fu rt h e r m o re I would like you to stop teachers giving girls corporal punishment and hard tasks and let them give a p p ropriate punishment. To add on that, I would like you to make sure that both sexes get equal education. Lastly I would like you to g i ve solutions to problems affecting g i r l s education in Uganda not only that but also to give guidance and c o u n s e l l i n g. I will be grateful if my information is put into consideration. Nuku Hawa Uganda Dear FAWE, I am dissatisfied with the way our education system is countrywide as regards to the education of the girl child. The traditional gender roles which expects the girl child to perform most domestic chores e.g. cooking, washing and fetching firewood. I am interested in writing articles for your newsletters, books and other materials. I wish you all the best in the work you are doing to help girls and women further their education. Joyce Okawro Chakol Girls High School Busia, Kenya Dear FAWE, I am a girl aged 15 from a family of four girls and one boy. While at school, I met a girl who after a short time became my friend. We used to share our experiences and she once told me that she is a member of an organization which sends her magazines that help her to know much about her rights as a girl. I got very much interested and asked her if I could read the magazine myself and know more about it. I got more interested that I felt that it would be good if I could join the organization. I asked the girl what I can do to get in contact with you and she, Magdeline Wambui Waweru, advised me to write this letter. In our area, Molo, there is great discrimination of girls. Most parents educate their sons more than they educate their daughters. Boys are educated to the highest possible level while most girls are only educated upto standard eight. With help from you, I think I can be able to approach such parents to make them know that even girls have equal rights as boys. I also want them to know that educating a girl is like educating a whole community. I will be happy to see my a rea improving and stoping to despise girls because many of them end up being prostitutes or being married at a very early age and living bad and unpleasant lives. I will be sharing with you how our area is improving and how I have helped other girls, especially school leavers. Wanjugu C. Margaret Jomo Kenyatta High School Nakuru, Kenya Millions Are Missing! ccess to a good quality education is acknowledged as a basic human right. Nevertheless, while enrolment rates have increased globally over the last three decades, in the developing world today: More than 130 million year-olds are out of school. Some 81 million (60 percent) of them are girls! More than 273 million year-olds are out of school, 148 million (54 percent) of whom are girls! Of the 100 million children who drop out of school before completing four years, twothirds are girls. The gender gap is widest in the poorest countries, the majority of which are in sub-saharan Africa. Explanations for this human tragedy abound: Tuition and other In many Sub-Saharan schools are inadequately equipped, and curricula biased and irrelevant. Figure 1 fees are beyond the means of the majority of families. Adolescent pregnancy and childbearing, which take girls out of school, are on the rise. Traditional beliefs about girls and women s roles discourage investment in their education. Moreover, teachers are often poorly trained, schools inadequately equipped, and curricula biased and irrelevant. And in some cultures, the lack of separate facilities, the Tuition and other fees are beyond the means of the majority of families. Adolescent pregnancy and childbearing, which take girls out of school, are on the rise. long distances to school and the predominantly male teaching staff constitute major barriers to girls participation in education. 5 Poverty a major obstacle to keeping children in school. in rural and urban areas in almost all countries in sub-saharan Africa (Figure 2). Urban institutions enjoy better teachers and more resources and facilities than do rural institutions. These in turn give rise to disparities in rates of pupils enrolment, participation and performance. In countries like Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, where bold initiatives have been used to improve schooling throughout the country, attendance in primary schools in rural Dropping Out: Wasted Opportunities Compared with other regions of the world, sub-saharan Africa is doing poorly in retention of children in schools. Except in a few countries like Seychelles with Mauritius following very closely dropout and repetition rates are high especially among girls beginning at the primary level and continuing through secondary schools to universities and colleges. Only 67 percent of the children who enter the first grade of primary school eventually reach grade five, which means that a full third drop out along the way! Dropping out and repeating grades exact a terrible personal toll on the pupils involved and absorb a large share of the limited resources available for education. It is estimated that countries in sub- Saharan Africa spend US Dollars 18,800 million per year on education and US Dollars 16,167 million (32.8 per cent) is spent on wastage before grade five. ( EFA Forum Secretariat, UNESCO). This is the highest wastage in all less developing regions of the world. The Urban Rural Gap There is a distinct disparity between the quality of education Figure 2 areas is lower than urban areas by about 19 percent or less. In countries like Niger and Burkina Faso, attendance is lower by nearly 50 percent. Women s Illiteracy The combined effects of continuing low enrolment, high repetition and dropout among girls in sub- Saharan Africa have undermined and frustrated efforts to eradicate adult literacy, particularly among women. According to UNICEF's State of the World Children 2000, some 16 of the 22 countries with 70 percent or more illiterate women are found in sub-saharan Africa. In two of these, over 90 6 Paralyzing Effects of Poverty he average person in nearly every sub-saharan African country is poorer today than they were a decade ago. Most countries are in deep financial crises manifested in: mass retrenchments, collapse of businesses, unprecedented unemployment, rising costs of food, education, health services, power, water the list is endless. According to World Bank reports, the rates of economic growth in most countries in sub- Saharan Africa are stagnant or declining. The annual per capita gross national product (GNP) growth in the region up to the early 1980s was 2.8 percent. By mid 1990s, it had plummeted to 0.1 percent. For many countries the capacity to manage the education sector is increasingly under threat. Rising levels of poverty have reduced families abilities to provide for the basic needs of their children. This is reflected in growing rates of school dropout particularly among girls. AIDS The Aggressive Invader oday in sub-saharan Africa, home to the 21 countries with the highest HIV prevalence, HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects the young, the poor and the powerless girls and women in particular. In this region alone we find: More than 80 percent of the world's HIV/AIDS-infected women 87 percent of the world's HIV/AIDS-infected children 95 percent of the world s AIDS orphans Figure 3 The majority of the orphans are left with no hope for education. Resources that could have been used for their education go to caring for the sick. Girls, more than boys, are likely to drop out of school to care for the sick or to bring up orphaned siblings. Or they end up as prostitutes out of despair. HIV/AIDS threaten to undo much of what has been accomplished in education in the last several decades. (Fig. 3 AIDS orphans) Today s Conflicts Arenas of Flagrant Atrocities n the last three decades, over 30 wars have gone on in Africa alone, mostly within countries. These created more than 8 million refugees or displaced persons. In 1998 alone, an estimated 200,000 Africans, most of them women and children, died as a result of war and conflict. Thousands of others were maimed and remain psychologically scarred by what they endured or witnessed. Like the ravages of poverty, today s conflicts threaten many of the achievements in education that people have laboured long decades to attain. Insecurity, destruction of infrastructure, displacement of people, among others, cut short the education careers of many pupils, particularly girls. Do We Give Up? o! Poverty, conflict, disease, pregnancy or gender discrimination are all challenges that can be confronted and conquered, no matter how entrenched they may appear. The important thing is to direct efforts towards those points with the greatest potential for change and impact. Several efforts are underway in various countries aimed at confronting these challenges. FAWE, as a pan- African NGO, is at the forefront of these efforts contributing to designing and formulating strategies to reduce the effects of these factors on girls participation in education. 7 A Major Obstacle to Girls Education overty, in the new millennium, continues to be the single biggest obstacle to education for both boys and girls in sub-saharan Africa. Demand for education continues to be lowest in areas where poverty is deepest and most widespread rural areas and urban slums. The relatively new concept of cost-sharing, fuelled by the unrelenting economic crisis in Africa and structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), and now compounded by challenges and threats such as HIV/AIDS and widespread conflicts and war, mean that already impoverished households have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay more for their children s education. Even where tuition fees are not charged, other levies and expenses such as registration and examination fees, building funds, book costs, uniforms, etc., push schooling out of reach for a significant number of children. In some countries it is estimated that parents are responsible for over 70 percent of the cost of their children s education in government schools. The result, depending on the economic abilities of different communities, is wide variation in schools resources and facilities, which in turn gives rise to disparities in student participation and performance. Where poverty is especially wrenching, as in rural areas, the disparities are great. Furthermore, the economic pressures facing African governments are having a negative impact on other components of the education sector, including the inspec- WHY IS THERE SO MUCH CONCERN ABOUT KEEPING GIRLS IN SCHOOL? Young people who drop out of school before acquiring the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy may lapse back into illiteracy. In urban areas, these young people are likely to end up in the streets, adding to the problems of delinquency and crime. Street girls are at risk of getting sexually molested, contracting diseases and bearing children they are unequipped to look after. Their potential contribution to national development is severely undermined. However, for those who persist in acquiring an education, research has shown that there are important payoffs: Basic education is critical for economic growth and poverty reduction. Educating girls reduces the number of mothers who die during childbirth. In South Africa, where female enrolment rates are low, maternal mortality rates are about 10 times greater than in East Asia, where many more girls go to school. Educating girls reduces the number of children who die. Evidence from 13 developing countries shows that a 10 percent increase in female literacy helps lead to a 10 percent reduction in child mortality. Educating girls reduces fertility rates. Studies show that an additional year of women s schooling can reduce female fertility rates by 5 10 percent. Educating girls improves family health. Recent research shows that there is a strong correlation between low school enrolment rates for girls and high rates of HIV/AIDS. Educating girls increases the education of their children and their children s children. The benefits of girls education pass from generation to generation. Educated mothers are better able to prepare their children to be successful in school and in the labour market. Educating girls has important environmental benefits. Several World Development Reports conclude that investment in female education is one of the highest return investments in environmental protection that a developing country can make. Educating girls help growth. Girls' primary school enrolment rates have strong positive effects on GNP per capita. Educating girls increases productivity. A study of maize farming in Kenya found that an additional year of education for women increased production by over 20 percent. Source: Girls Education (1999), World Bank 8 torate, curriculum development, examination, teacher training and in-service programmes and salaries. There is a deterioration of education quality particularly in rural areas due to non-inspection of schools and services, low teacher morale, and rampant cheating in exa
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