|Redressing Gender Inequalities in Education - A Review of Constraints and Priorities in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe (DFID, 1995, 89 p.)|
|CHAPTER 7: GOVERNMENT AND DONOR INTERVENTIONS|
To overcome the racial imbalance in education provision during the colonial and UDI periods, Zimbabwe adopted a policy of education as a basic human right in 1980. The resulting rapid expansion of education provision brought Zimbabwe close to achieving the goal of Universal Primary Education, but this was not without its costs. The quality of education fell in the 1980s as pupil-teacher ratios increased and expenditure per pupil dropped. Overcoming these problems has diverted attention from questions of relevance, gender equity and community based initiatives, including early childhood education which lagged behind. The challenge of the 1990s is to improve the quality and relevance of educational provision (UNICEF, 1994).
The Government of Zimbabwe, in collaboration with international aid donors has recently taken steps to address directly the question of gender inequity in education. The overall aim of current education policy is to upgrade the quality and relevance of primary school education and increase the proportion of trained teachers from 64% to 80%. Bringing about gender equity throughout the system is a goal of the National Programme of Action for Children (NPA) which is assisted by UNICEF. The programme has three major components - community based education, (initiated through the early childhood education and care and adult literacy programmes), quality and relevance of basic education, and gender equity. The gender equity programme focuses on the following areas:
· A Social Development Fund (SDF) has been established in order to ameliorate the economic constraints that adversely affect the participation women and 'vulnerable groups'. The Fund assists pupils whose parents are unable to pay either primary or secondary tuition fees. (However, its implementation has been dogged by bureaucratic and logistical problems so that particularly those poorer groups living in rural areas have been unable to make use of the fund.) The use of this fund offers the possibility of assisting both girls and boys.
· The removal of gender stereotyping in school textbooks along with training teachers to be gender sensitive. The aim is to effect positive changes with regard to teacher attitudes towards the education of boys and girls and patterns of role ascription.
· The strengthening and training of the School Development Committees (SDCs) to enable them to take an increasingly important role in the planning and management of the education system at the local level. Parents, educational administrators and teacher trainees are to be sensitised on gender issues and convinced of the benefits of girls' education through workshops organised through the SDCs (UNICEF, 1994).
· In conjunction with various donors (including NGOs), the award of scholarships and bursaries to girls, (and particularly the poor and gifted) in the hope that their success will influence others.
· Relaxing conditions and criteria for girls admission to certain levels of education by means of positive discrimination, which involves a quota system at advanced level and university education.
· Giving pregnant school girls a chance to go back to school after delivering and nursing the baby.
· Family life education will be maintained in the curriculum to cultivate children's awareness of their sexuality and to help them avoid early marriages, teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
· Giving female teachers priority in promotions so that they can become role models for girls to emulate and aspire to similar or better achievement.
UNICEF sees gender sensitising as almost pure advocacy for the girl child. In Zimbabwe, this advocacy will involve mass media campaigns directed at rural populations to encourage girls to go to school. A number of ministries will be involved in the gender equity project apart from the MEC. UNICEF is the main donor supporting this programme, although close links will be maintained with other donors working in the field of education, notably CIDA, CODE, UNESCO, SIDA, World Bank, Netherlands Government and the Bernard van Leer Foundation (UNICEF, 1993).
SIDA has for some time played a central role in supporting Zimbabwe's education sector. The current agreement between SIDA and the GOZ ends in 1995. It will be replaced by a more concentrated programme in which gender concerns are paramount. For example, the gender aspects of education management will have their own budget for training in gender planning. The school building and rehabilitation programmes in the communal areas will be continued as they have helped to increase enrolment and participation, especially for girls. The secondary school scholarship programmes for children from these areas will also continue with the scholarships being disbursed at a 4:1 ratio in favour of girls. The areas of maths and science education for girls have been highlighted and the current development support will be mainly concentrated in these subjects. SIDA is also exploring the possibility of offering education support through NGOs which, it is hoped, could improve the quality of education and thereby attract more girls to school. In this respect, they are likely to draw on their experience of working with NGOs in India and Bangladesh (McNab and Sundberg, 1995).