Some interventions to enhance girls' education.
The demand-side policy and program responses are geared to increasing the social demand for formal schooling for girls. As the review in Chapter 2 has shown several socioeconomic and sociocultural factors at the household, school and community levels depress the demand for female education.
Examples of initiatives to reduce the direct costs of female schooling include economic incentive programs in India, Nepal, and Malawi. In India, girls from poor backgrounds are targeted for scholarships at the primary and secondary levels. In Nepal, girls are entitled to free education to the secondary level. Scholarships enable girls from remote areas to attend regional secondary schools. Free textbooks for all children until grade 3, and for all girls until grade 5 provide further economic incentives to facilitate attendance (APEID/UNESCO 1985 in Tietjen and Prather 1991).
In Malawi, the USAID-funded Girls' Attainment in Basic Literacy and Education (GABLE) program launched in 1990 has had a positive effect on girls' participation. The program includes a variety of interventions: tuition waivers for non-repeating primary schoolgirls; building classrooms and teachers' houses; input into curriculum review; and teacher training. The tuition waivers appear to be having a significant impact on female participation. Preliminary enrollment data from the Ministry of Education show that girls comprised 54 percent of the children enrolled in primary schools, an increase from 44.8 percent in 1989. Net enrollment for girls is now 59 percent for girls compared to 54 percent for boys. Anecdotal evidence suggests a doubling of Standard 1 enrollments, mostly from an additional intake of girls. This has happened although the cost of uniforms and other requirements remain a parental responsibility. Apparently the tuition waiver has a strong signaling effect for parents of the importance now being given to the education of girls (Hyde 1994).
The provision of child care facilities to free girls' and women's time for schooling has been implemented in China and Columbia. In Gansu province, China, girls were allowed to bring their siblings to class in the new village schools. Since 1987 in Columbia, community care programs for children under seven have enabled girls and women in poor neighborhoods to attend school or go to work (Herz and others 1991).
Improving the utility and type of education to make parents re-evaluate benefits from education is another strategy. In World Bank-financed projects in The Gambia and Mali, family life education (for example, basic principles in health, nutrition, and child care) has been included in the primary school curriculum to overcome initial parental reluctance to enroll girls (Herz and others 1991).
Negative parental and societal attitudes and perceptions of girls' education must also be addressed. Social marketing and sensitization programs are popular approaches for sharing information at the community level. Since 1988, the National Council of Women of Kenya has run a project which educates parents on issues that affect female participation in education: early pregnancy and marriage, female circumcision; and food taboos. Through seminars, workshops and home visits, forty-three district coordinators have informed people regarding girls' education. Similarly, in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Malawi, seminars, workshops and village meetings are used to persuade parents to reflect upon and understand the impact of certain traditional practices on girls' education. They are challenged to develop mechanisms for confronting sexual harassment, early marriage and pregnancy and for supporting girls' education at home (Namuddu 1993b).
Some supply-side policies and programs
Several school-related and institutional factors that lower the demand for female education have been tackled with supply-side responses. In response to girls' poor performance in science, the Basic Science Program in Sierra Leone was adapted to suit their needs. It uses examples of indigenous technology to illustrate basic scientific principles. Since its implementation in 1981, girls' performance in basic science has improved (Amara 1987 in Tietjen and Prather 1991).
Colombia's well-known Escuela Nueva program, launched in 1976, incorporates the principles of multi-grade teaching and a flexible promotion system in providing five years of education to children in rural areas. Module learning of sequential materials accommodates the reality of rural life by acknowledging absences related to the farming calendar and other pressures on children's time, and in relating the curriculum content to local conditions. The streaming guides and curriculum emphasize problem-solving skills rather than rote learning. The program has increased girls' participation and lowered the repetition and drop-out rates in grades 2 to 5. Achievement levels are higher than in the traditional schools. The program is credited with improving girls' self-esteem (Bellew and King 1991, Lockheed and Verspoor and others 1990).
In some cases, the presence of female teachers is an important factor in encouraging parents to send their daughters to school. In Yemen, a program to encourage rural female teachers has been in operation since 1987 with support from UNICEF. Rural girls who have completed grade 6 are targeted to participate in the program. They are provided with a monthly stipend and transportation to and from class. Existing secondary institutions close to the girls' homes are used as primary teacher training colleges, although several got married during the course period, the low drop-out rate of less than 1.5 percent among the first 80 participants indicated the success of the pilot program (Herz and others 1991).
In Bhutan, satellite schools in rural areas away from regular schools bring the classroom closer to girls in the first two-three years of primary school. Preliminary data suggest a higher enrollment and retention rate of girls. Feeder-school students are encouraged to continue their education because dormitories are provided (King and Hill 1991).
In Cote d'lvoire, a school feeding program supported by the Ministry of Education is encouraging better attendance by pupils. The current program, which began in 1989, was preceded by earlier programs in the Ministry and is targeted at areas where school attendance is poor. It reaches 190,000 children at 1,800 canteens, supervised by 6,000 teachers. Each meal contains 40 percent of the calories the children need and half the protein. Food is supplied by the World Food Program and local vegetables, fruits and spices are bought or grown in school gardens. Parents have been encouraged to send their children to school as children's health and performance in class have improved as a result of the program. In particular, girls who make up 41.6 percent of schoolchildren, are staying in school longer. This has encouraged government to support the program to increase that number and by so doing reduce the incidence of early marriage and pregnancies. The effectiveness of the program, verified by a UNESCO assessment in 1994, has lead to an extension of the World Food Program support for another four years (Kouassi N'guessan and Bequette 1994).
In 1987 the Ghana Education Services organized a two-week Science Clinic for 150 Ghanaian secondary schoolgirls. Since then, the Ghanaian Girls' Science Clinic has become an annual event. In 1989 the program was expanded to include girls and resource persons from other African countries. The girls participate in field trips, work on their own projects, receive guidance and counseling on science and mathematics careers, and have an opportunity to meet and interact with women in the same careers who can serve as mentors. Approximately 900 girls have participated in the clinics. During the year, members of the Association of Women in Science and Technology in Ghana (WIST), who are also active in the national science clinics, organize 'science days' for girls, workshops for women science teachers, and career guidance talks in schools. These initiatives have had positive results. An appreciable number of girls who attend the clinics have opted for careers in pure and applied sciences. Engineering has become particularly popular . Since 1987 there has been a 20 percent increase in girls pursuing science and mathematics at the secondary level; it is suggested that the science clinics have contributed to this increase (Andam 1993).
While identifying key supply and demand-side constraints to female education is important, research suggests that the most effective interventions should address supply and demand-side factors simultaneously and support the involvement of communities in resolving the problems of girls' access to, attainment and academic achievement in school. The CHILDSCOPE project in Ghana, (Box 3.1) and the Camfed project in Zimbabwe, (Box 3.2) provide examples of such interventions.
Box 3.1: The Child-School-Community (CHILDSCOPE) Project, UNICEF, Ghana This focuses on empowering communities and teachers, pupils, community members and leaders to collaborate in identifying problems and finding solutions to a central policy concern of the Government of Ghana: Why do children appear not to be learning very much in primary school? The project aims to improve relevance and efficiency in primary schools, in order to attract and keep more children in school, especially girls. CHILDSCOPE is an integrated community-based development project which uses the school as the primary resource for changing people's behavior to improve lives. Using participatory approaches to planning, the project is intended to empower parents and teachers to understand the interplay between education and development, and assist them in determining what schools can provide. Empowering communities to better manage and supervise their schools, training headteachers and teachers to make more efficient use of their time-on-task, and improving the school curriculum to reflect an understanding of children's needs, are strategies designed to bring the child, the school, and the community closer. Good health care promotion, including food consumption, reduction in micro-nutrient deficiencies, parasite control, sanitation and hygiene, are additional strategies to improve quality, because healthier children study better, and because children who are involved in practical health promotion activities are more active, enjoy their schooling more, and are more motivated to learn. Community child care, training of care-givers, and improving overall parenting and child-care practices are complementary activities. Advances in health, nutrition, water and sanitation, have not always been matched by similar advances in education at the community level. The sectoral interventions are usually introduced vertically, with little integration and coordination at all levels. The CHILDSCOPE Project provides a possibility for integrated development, and through its implementation will examine the degree to which basic education programs integrated with health, nutrition, water and sanitation can alleviate the burden of finding those services in different locations. The project can demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages of vertical versus horizontal programming. Schools are ideally placed as the only governmental institution at the community level to influence those processes that enhance children's lives. CHILDSCOPE can help to illustrate the importance of acknowledging children's critical welfare function in the community, and the importance of targeting them directly for behavioral change, rather than focusing only on adults. The critical role of schools in promoting learning for behavioral change becomes evident. This is the aim of the CHILDSCOPE Project. Fostering closer links between the child, the school and community, may be the most important way to sustainably improve the future of rural poor children, especially girls. Source: Agarwal, S. 1995. 'Case Evidence From Rural Ghana'. Accra: CHILDSCOPE Project, UNICEF Ghana. Box 3.2: Cambridge Female Education Trust (Camfed) This was established in 1991 to provide financial support to girls in primary and secondary schools in rural Zimbabwe. All costs of the girls education are covered by Camfed, which also provides some material needs of the schools by linking them with schools in the United Kingdom. Sewing co-operatives are part of the program to provide employment and income- generating opportunities for girls leaving school. Girls who want to continue their education, but whose families do not have the resources to support them, are identified by Camfed village committees, whose members include parents, community workers, headteachers, teachers at local primary and secondary schools, district education officials and Camfed staff. "This wide representation tempers favoritism in candidate selection and deflects the pressures that could be applied to individual members of the committee. The exercise is time-consuming and thorough...The school staff committee members observe that this process has brought interest to their work and given them more insights into their pupils' lives." (Camfed 1994: 15). The beneficiaries of the scheme are supported in groups from their communities into day and boarding schools within the districts of Nyaminyami, Chikomba and Nyanga. The design and evolution of the Camfed scheme is based on continuous research and consultation with the communities involved. Teachers, parents and the community are actively involved in administering and developing all aspects of the scheme. Dialogue with parents, school staff and Camfed seeks to enhance the social environment in which girls can grow and learn. "For example, a balanced enrollment between boys and girls is one of the objectives which can help create a classroom atmosphere in which girls are more likely to participate actively. Our fieldworker also talks to parents about the need to provide time and opportunity for girls to do their homework in daylight hours. In some schools she teaches girls to make reusable sanitary towels as the practical considerations of menstruation are problematic for girls from poor families." (Camfed 1994: 3). Attendance of the girls at school has been excellent and participants are achieving good academic results. Attrition from the scheme has been low: of the 246 girls who have enrolled since 1992, only 6 have left the scheme. The Camfed experience suggests that boarding school offers the most beneficial environment for girls from poor families. Parental support to the scheme is growing; no parents have turned down the offer of support for their daughters. Interestingly "school staff have provided some encouraging anecdotal evidence of girls' growing confidence and their own changing expectations in the light of girls' progress. For example, many teachers have noticed more classroom participation by girls in schools where the Camfed project has created a more balanced intake between boys and girls. In Mola, girls are speaking out on their own behalf against sexual harassment in the knowledge that they are in a sympathetic environment with people with who take their fears and concerns seriously. Visiting schools regularly, Camfed staff are encouraged by the growing ease in the dialogue with the girls which shows their emerging confidence" (Camfed 1994: 24). Monitoring and evaluation are central to the scheme, and monitoring indicators and strategies have been designed. In 1994 a comprehensive study of education in the Chikomba district was undertaken by Camfed and initiated by the Forum for African Women Educationalists, FAWE, who view the project as replicable in other areas of Africa. The scheme is generating interest and support for girls within communities, and discretionary funds administered by rural district councils are now being used for it alongside the funds generated by Camfed which is supported in its work by organizations which include UNICEF and FAWE. Source: Camfed. 1994. Supporting Girls' Education in Zimbabwe. Harare: Camfed The Cambridge Female Education Trust.
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|Title Annotation:||Girls and Schools in Sub-Saharan Africa: From Analysis to Action|
|Publication:||Girls and Schools in Sub-Saharan Africa|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1995|
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