African Women Do Not Receive Equal Access to Education
Women in sub-Saharan Africa are far from winning the battle for equal access to higher education. The main reason cited is the failure to implement policies at the primary level.
The average literacy rate for women remains 49.6 percent, compared with 66 percent for men. According to a report by the Forum for African Women Educationalists, the gender imbalance in primary schools has not changed in 20 years. The report says the main problem is the poor rate of transition among girls from primary to secondary school. As a result, few women make it to college.
In Togo, for example, only 13 percent of girls acquire some form of post-secondary education. In Tanzania, 16 percent of the higher education student population is female. In the Central African Republic, it is 11 percent, and in Ethiopia it is 20 percent.
Times Higher Education Supplement
March 9, 2001
Private institutions of higher education are beginning to flourish as the government relaxes restrictions in the education sector. In 1997, Unity College became the first of these private schools to open. Despite the high tuition fees, Unity currently boasts 9,000students. The establishment of Unity College and other privately funded colleges has provided students with an alternative to the state-run education system.
Students do not apply to public colleges and universities in Ethiopia; the Ministry of Education assigns them. So, for example, a student who wanted to study law at Addis Ababa University instead might be assigned to the Gondar Agricultural Institute because the government feels it is in need of trained agriculturalists. In the past, university graduates were assigned jobs as well, facing prison terms if they refused their posts. Now, however, students are free to choose their careers after they finish their degrees.
The government says the new private schools, where salaries are two to three times higher, are contributing to the brain drain from state-run universities. In addition, many Ethiopians who are sent overseas to earn advanced qualifications do not come back.
April 4-10, 2001
The Kenyan government recently announced plans to make primary education free and compulsory throughout the country. According to Assistant Education Minister Joshua Orwa Ojode, the Universal Primary Education Program will be discussed sometime in early 2002 and then presented to Parliament for approval.
It is hoped the program will begin in January 2003, Ojode added.
The program authorizes local chiefs to compel all children over 6 years of age to attend school. School administrators will be held responsible for noncompliance; those who fail in their duty will be prosecuted.
According to one local newspaper, Ojode has told the Nairobi City Council to discontinue its KSH 10,000 (US$130) registration fee for students.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
Sept. 19, 2001
Teachers and students recently returned to lectures at Ambrose Alli University in the Edo state of Nigeria, ending a crippling, 10-month strike.
Ambrose Alli University officially reopened July 15, after a meeting between government representatives and lecturers on July 2.
Classes have resumed at the university, and the campus, which had been a ghost town overgrown with weeds, is alive again.
The governor granted unconditional pardons to 11 lecturers who had been fired. They have since returned to teaching after 10 months of absence.
For more information on education in Edo, including Ambrose Alli University, go to www.edostategov.com/html/education/.
Aug. 28, 2001
The Ministry of Education says it will reduce the number of technical colleges in South Africa from 152 to 50. The plan is part of a government-sponsored program to dismantle the old apartheid system of vocational or technical education and training in South Africa.
Under the traditional apartheid system, vocational training was characterized by unequal access to schools based on race and unequal allocation of funding between historically white colleges and historically black colleges.
According to a ministry spokesman, equal access to quality education and training will be maintained for all races. The new college network will also result in viable partnerships being developed between the colleges and private-sector businesses.
The Sowetan (Johannesburg)
Sept. 18, 2001
In 1997, the Ugandan government took the first step toward providing free primary education to all school-age citizens by launching the Universal Primary Education Program.
Under this initiative, up to four children per family can attend primary school free of charge at any public institution.
Government spending on education shot up to 30 percent of its total budget that year and the number of children attending school in Uganda has increased significantly since then.
In December 1996, 2.9 million children were attending primary school. Just two months later, 5.4 million children were enrolled.
The government has also been trying to promote education for girls, and recently established a ministry devoted to women and children. In addition, a special gender unit has been set up within the Ministry of Education to provide incentives, support for women’s education and to publicize the problems that many girls face.
Despite the tendencies of parents to keep their daughters at home and high dropout rates among female students, there are now many more girls entering the education system. Not only are they staying in school longer, they are achieving higher grades.
BBC World Service
Aug. 31, 2001
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