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close this bookAccess of Girls and Women to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Africa (BREDA - UNESCO, 1999, 480 p.)
close this folderPART I
View the documentChapter 1: Promotion of Women Through Equal Access to Education for the Sexes: A Few Landmark Decisions
View the documentChapter 2: Scientific, Technical and Vocational Training of Girls in Africa - A Synthesis of Country Surveys

Chapter 2: Scientific, Technical and Vocational Training of Girls in Africa - A Synthesis of Country Surveys

Cheikh THIAM*

* Consultant, HLM Hann n° 286, Dakar - Sénégal.

The recognition of the right to education as being fundamental for every individual, without distinction or exclusion of age, sex, origin, socio-cultural adherence or race, is one of the major achievements of the past decades. It must inspire radical actions that can promote the effective equality of opportunity for everyone's access to and success in the areas of education and training.

This action naturally implies special measures favouring girls and women that would allow them to benefit equally and profit fully, depending on their tastes, affinities and possibilities, from all the services offered to the entire community, including education in the sciences, technology and vocational training.

In most African countries, there are legislative provisions guaranteeing both sexes equal rights to education, vocational training and employment. In reality, however, the status of girls and women is often very different from that of boys and men.

THE SOCIAL, CULTURAL AND ECONOMIC CONTEXT

In Africa, women represent the majority, making up 51% of the population. According to studies conducted in this area, they have long been and continue to be victims of every burden imaginable, especially those related to prejudices, traditions and stereotypes.

This condition of the African woman has been summarised in Box #1, below.

Box #1: Status of Women and Children in Nigeria

The patrilineal system of inheritance, which is practiced in most parts of Nigeria, lowers further the status of women in the society. In this system only the male children can inherit from the family properties, especially land. As a result, male children are more highly prized and favoured in Nigeria than female children. This differential valuation is evident in the home, school and community. In a typical Nigerian family female children are made to work a lot more than their male counterparts, especially in house chores. Daughters get wakened up earlier, go to bed later than sons, receive less quality and quantity food, receive less attention to health needs, have less hours for play and leisure and even get scolded more than sons when things go wrong in the home.

Excerpt from: National Survey on Science, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in Nigeria, by Eunice A.C. Okeke (1997), UNESCO-BREDA (p. 1)

The economic factor is another argument used against school for girls. It is generally considered more “useful” to set aside part of the family resources to educate sons, while the daughters are supposed to help around the house, hoping to make a “good marriage” when the time comes.

In fact, most African traditions confine women to their status as spouses and guardians of the home, assigned to “domestic chores,” bowing to the decisions of the community without ever having the right to speak out. Traditions, customs and religions have hence restricted them to passive acceptance of this status.

Some consequences of this situation have been:

· Girls are less likely than boys to go to school, to succeed in their studies and to find salaried work;
· Women represent 2/3 of the illiterate on the continent;
· Women are poorly represented in decision-making bodies;
· Girls and women constitute the most vulnerable group of the disadvantaged.

Still, it is commonly recognised that education for women is one primary condition for social development, as President Nelson Mandela so strongly stressed regarding South Africa.

Box #2: Policy Statement in Favour of the Emancipation of Women in South Africa

It is vitally important that all structures of government, including the President himself, should understand this fully: that freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression. All of us must take this on board: that the objectives of the RDP will not have been realized unless we see in visible and practical terms that the condition of the women of our country has radically changed for the better, and that they have been empowered to intervene in all aspects of life as equals with any other member of society.

The President

Excerpt from: National Survey on Science, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in South Africa, by Anatassios Pouris (1997), UNESCO-BREDA

STATUS OF GIRLS IN THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

Access of Girls to Primary School

In all African countries, the school attendance rate for girls in primary school remains very low compared to that of boys. The gaps in opportunities for girls and boys to attend school vary from one region to another, and even from one country to another.

In Nigeria, the representation of girls in primary school fluctuates: from 44.3% in 1985 and 44.1% in 1992, and up to 45% by 1989. In Zimbabwe, statistics from the Ministry of Education (1995) show that out of 2.5 million pupils in primary school, 49.3% were girls. In Tanzania, the school attendance rate for girls remained stable between 1985 (49.8%) and 1995 (49.4%).

The gap in access to primary school between boys and girls is much worse in certain countries, as shown in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1: Evolution of School Attendance Levels in Primary and % of Girls in Niger

School Year

1975

1980

1990

1994

1995

Total Enrolment

120 984

209 865

344 848

41 920

424 861

% Girls

35.36

35.53

37.2

36

36

Excerpt from: National Survey on Science, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls - A Case Study of Niger, by Koukou Adamou (1997), UNESCO-BREDA

Table 2: Evolution of Attendance Levels in Primary School and % of Girls in Mali

School Year

School Attendance Rate (%)

% Girls

1990/1991

23.0

16.9

1993/1994

36.4

24.9

1995/1996

42.0

33.0

Excerpt from: Study on the Promotion of Equal Access for Girls to Science, Technical and Vocational Education - A Case Study of Mali, by Camara Maïmouna Coulibaly (1997), UNESCO-BREDA

However, the girls who are lucky enough to attend school at this level usually complete it, even though they may not go on to secondary school. In certain regions, it is thought that the basic education received in primary school is enough to meet a girl's educational needs. It is also thought that they do not need to learn a trade, especially since their time will be taken up with household chores and the few activities that they might eventually engage in could be learned at home from their mothers.

GIRLS IN SECONDARY EDUCATION

Generally speaking, the school attendance rate for girls remains extremely low compared to that of boys. In Mali, out of 25,640 students in secondary education in 1992/93, only 7,451 were girls, or 29% of the total enrolment. In Benin, they represented only 30% of enrolment in the first cycle and 20% in the second cycle. In Chad, they represented only 18.73% of total enrolment for that year.

Every year, fewer girls than boys enrol, while more of them drop out when passing from one cycle to the other. In Ghana, for example, out of 1000 boys admitted into school in 1986/87, 755 finished primary school in 1991/92, and 634 completed the first secondary cycle in 1994/95, while for girls, those figures were 670 and 530, respectively.

Table 3: Record of 4 Cohorts of Students Who Reached the End of 1st Secondary Cycle in Ghana

Enrolled in
Primary

Finishing Primary

Finishing 1st Cycle,
Secondary


Total

Boys

Girls

Total

Boys

Girls

1000

712

752

655

451

486

401

1000

709

735

661

462

475

448

1000

698

726

663

509

568

440

1000

635

677

584

513

572

445

Source: Ministry of Education - Excerpt from Study on the Promotion of Science, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in Africa - Ghana Status Report, by Georgina Quaisie (1996), UNESCO-BREDA, p. 6

Performance of Girls in the Scientific Disciplines at the Secondary Level

The social considerations reserved for girls and the treatment resulting from them are handicaps to their academic performances, especially in the science series.

Box 3: Prejudices against Women Scientists in Tanzania

Girls in the Tanzanian schools are performing much poorer than the boys. The performance deteriorates as we go up the educational ladder. The situation is more marked in the sciences where very few female students qualify to higher levels of education. The situation may be a result of societal expectation and the consequent treatment of the girls. The society in general still views the females as inferior and does not expect them to he able to compete with males academically. The girls are treated differentially in the school situation; for example, they may be given jobs such as making tea for the teachers and entertaining visitors, which may keep them away from their class work. In addition, girls performing well may sometimes be discouraged by being made to feel there is something wrong with them. For example, they may face insults such as being told only ugly women can be good in science and mathematics or that they are being too “mannish”.

Unfortunately, many girls begin to believe what they hear, and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Excerpt from: Girls' and Women's Participation in Science, Technical an Vocational Education in Tanzania, UNESCO-BREDA, by Mary W. Mboya (1997)

In every country on the continent, a detailed look at educational streams shows that in the majority, girls follow a general education and that in the specialised areas in the secondary cycle, they are chiefly found in the literary and commercial series.

In Madagascar, out of 100 girls in the final year (end of secondary cycle), 58 are enrolled in the literary series, while 32 follow the D Series (Natural Sciences and Biology) and only 10 are in the C Series (Mathematics - Physics). In Zambia, even though girls' participation in the science fields has evolved since 1985, they represented only 17% of students in physics and only 15% of those that passed at the end of secondary studies for 1995. Table 4 shows that in Mali, only 1/10 of girls in the past two years of high school are signed up in the exact sciences.

Table 4: Breakdown of Girls by Section in the Last 2 Years of Secondary Education in Mali

Series

Enrolment

% of Girls


11° Year

12° Year

11° Year

12° Year

Languages & Literature

297

125

18

16

Social Sciences

476

156

2

20

Biology

729

403

44

51

Exact Sciences

125

104

10

13

TOTAL

1677

788

74

100

Excerpt from Study on the Promotion of Equal Access for Girls to Science, Technical and Vocational Education - A Case Study of Mali, by Camara Maîmouna Coulibaly (1997), UNESCO-BREDA

It has been observed that each time scientific subjects are an option in secondary school, girls always chose something else. In Tanzania, they “show evidence of a lack of confidence, concentration, initiative and interest towards subjects such as math, the sciences and technology” (Sekwao, 1990). In Burundi, girls represent 1/4 of students enrolled in the science sections.

Table 5: Female Enrolment in Science Sections of Second Cycle, Secondary Level in Burundi

Year of Study

Females

TOTAL

% Females

3° Science

376

1 541

24.3

2° Science A-B

257

1 208

21.3

1° Science A

26

198

13.1

1° Science B

228

815

28

Total 2nd Cycle

887

3672

24

Excerpt from Study on the Promotion of Equal Access for Girls to Science. Technical and Vocational Education - A Case Study of Burundi, by Oscar Bazikanwe (1997), UNESCO-BREDA

NB: Main subjects {Section A = Math, Physiques, Scientific Drafting
{Section B = Biology, Chemistry, Math

Table 6: Scientific Fields in Selected Educational Systems

SUBJECT/LEVEL

COUNTRY


2m

Tanz

S.Af

Nigeria

Ugan.

Ken.

Sen.

Bur.

Togo

Madag

PRIMARY











Environ. Sci.

x*


x**







x*

Observant. Sci.


x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*


Math.

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

SECONDARY 1











Basic Sci.

x*

x*




x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

Integrated Sci

x*



x*







Physics


x

x


x*

x

x

x

x

x

Biology


x

x


x*

x

x

x

x

x

Chemistry


x

x


x*

x

x

x

x

x

Math

x*

x*

x

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

x*

SECONDARY 2











Physics

x

x

x

x

x*

x

x

x

x

x

Biology

x

x

x

x*

x

x

x

x

x

x

Chemistry

x

x


x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Math

x*

x

x

x*

x*

x

x*

x

x

x

Applied Sci.

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x = Optional Subject
x* = Required Subject
x** = Educational level mandatory only for Whites before the first democratic elections

TECHNICAL EDUCATION AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING

In the revised Recommendation on Technical and Vocational Education adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in its 18th session, on the one hand, it is stipulated in paragraph 27 that:

Since it is desirable that women participate more extensively in the exercise of all professional categories, they should have the same opportunities for training as men and be encouraged through appropriate legislative measures and broadly disseminated information to make good use of those opportunities. and on the other hand, it is stressed in paragraph 57 that:

Special attention should be afforded to the orientation of girls and young women;

a) This orientation should bear on the possibilities for education, training and employment as varied as they are for boys and men;

b) It should systematically encourage girls and women to take advantage of the opportunities offered to them.

By referring to these standards, an action must be developed that is aimed to encourage access for girls and young women to technical and vocational education. It is worth noting that in certain countries, girls' participation in this type of education is increasing slowly but surely.

In Tanzania, girls comprised about 8% of the enrolment for technical and vocational education in the early 80s, but reached 25% in 1985. In Zambia, they have never attained 30% of those enrolled in technical and professional education. In Malawi, where all the technical and professional schools depend on the Ministry of Labour, they represented on the average 4.6% of enrolment between 1989 and 1993.

In Zimbabwe, the number of Technical Schools grew from 2 in 1980 to 9 in 1996, which resulted in an increase in female enrolment for that period, to 29.5%. For the Vocational Training Schools, total enrolment rose from 3512 in 1990 to 5064 in 1993, with an average increase in the number of girls of about 53%. In Kenya, the ratio between boys and girls in all the Youth Polytechnics in the country was 1/1 in 1997. Table 6 shows the progression of female presence in the scientific, technical and vocational colleges/high schools in Nigeria.

It is now well known, however, that in Africa, the traditional roles assigned to girls and women in every domain of life are strongly reinforced. Women suffer from this phenomenon even in educational milieus. Girls' natural attraction towards the so-called traditionally “feminine” trades is seen in the make-up of student enrolment.

The cases of Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Benin (Tables 7, 8 and 9) show that, just as in most African countries, girls are chiefly present in majors such as secretarial work, health, hairdressing, hotel services, sewing and home economics and social work.

Very few of them opt for the industrial streams, which are traditionally reserved for males: auto mechanics, civil engineering, electricity, and carpentry. This situation is becoming alarming, considering that in Mali, less than one girl out of ten has enrolled in the industrial section, and that none has passed the exams leading to a CAP in Benin (Certificate of Aptitude) (Table 10).

Table 6: Female Student Enrolment Levels in Science, Technical and Vocational Schools in Nigeria

Academic-Year

Schools of Science

Polytechnics


Total Enrolment

% Girls

Total Enrolment

% Girls

1989/90

6454

39,1

7553

37,1

1990/91

15537

37,9

15512

39,9

1991/92

13088

47,7

20146

43,1

Source: National Commission for Colleges of Education. Excerpt from National Survey on Science, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in Nigeria, by Eunice A.C. Okeke (1997), UNESCO-BREDA

Table 7: Student Enrolment Levels for Majors in Technical Colleges in 1996. in Zimbabwe

Major

Boys

Girls

Major

Boys

Girls


N

N

%


N

N

%

Appl. Art & Design

17

4

19

Electrical Engin.

1015

151

13

Auto Mechanic

1442

67

4,4

Hair Dresser

22

47

68,1

Biotechno Ap.

62

19

23,5

Hotel

167

144

46,3

Commerce

2948

1307

30,7

Secretarial Studies

489

1501

75,4

Computer Sci.

497

341

40,7

Textile Techno.

17

155

90,1

Civil Engineering

554

70

11,2

Wood Techno.

117

2

1,7

Source: Ministry of Higher Education Statistics Unit. Excerpt from National Survey on Promotion of the Equal Access of Girls to Science, Technical and Vocational Education in Zimbabwe, by Overson Shumba (1997), UNESCO -BREDA

Table 8: Breakdown of Enrolment at the Industrial and Commercial Training Institute in Matsapha, Swaziland 1995

Programme of Study

Enrolment

Majors


M

F

A

B (Minor)

Business

6

19

Accounting

Business English

Civil Engineering

23

0

Mechanics

Business English

Carpentry/Joinery

20

0

Mechanics

Business English

Electrical Engineering

41

2

Mechanics

Business English

Mechanical Engineering

25

3

Fitting

Machine Tools

Auto Mechanics

31

0

Auto Mechanics

Machine Tools

Secretarial Studies

0

25

Typist

Business English

TOTAL

146

49



Source: Ministry of Education, 1995 - Excerpt from: Comfort B.S. Mndebele (1997) Promotion of the Equal Access of Girls to Science, Technical and Vocational Education in Swaziland - UNESCO - BREDA, p. 38

Table 9: Breakdown of Enrolment in Technical and Vocational Education in 1995 in Benin

SECTION

Girls

%

TOTAL

TRAINEE

938

42,15

2225

SIT

50

2,97

1682

SAT

61

12,44

490

HEALTH

352

62,4

564

HOME CON/SOCIAL

32

61,5

52

HOTEL

40

97,5

41

TOTAL

1473

29

5054

Source: DEMTP. Excerpt from Study on the Participation of Girls and Women in Science. Technical and Vocational Education - A Case Study of Benin, by Legonou P. Blandine (1997), UNESCO-BREDA

Table 10 - Results of Exams for Certificate of Vocational Aptitude, 1996 in Benin

MAJOR

Passed

Girls

%

Home Economics & Social

10

7

70

Cooking

15

14

93

General Mechanics

20

1

5

Electricity

20

0

0

Auto Mechanics

20

0

0

Surveyor

20

4

20

Mason

20

0

0

Carpentry

20

0

0

Construction A.D.

14

1

7,14

Source: DEMTP. Excerpt from Study on the Participation of Girls and Women in Science, Technical and Vocational Education - A Case Study of Benin, by Legonou F. Blandine (1997), UNESCO-BREDA

HIGHER EDUCATION

The situation at this level arises from that of the lower levels. Due to the low levels of admittance and for passage between cycles, girls are poorly represented in university institutions.

In Benin in 1986, girls represented 17.7% of total enrolment. Today, that level has dropped to just 15% with less than 10% of students enrolled in the science and technical institutes. In Togo, there were only 3 women among the 1298 student engineers at ENSI (National Higher School of Engineers) in 1992/93.

In Uganda, Medicine, the Sciences and Food Technologies are some of the subjects where the number of girls has increased in recent years. In Agriculture, however, their number dropped from 31% in 1988 to 22% in 1991.

In contrast, in Ghana, the University College of Education of Winneba (Teacher's College) is the only case in Africa where the number of girls enrolled in science is higher than it is for boys (Cf. Table 11). This significant progression can be attributed to the positive impact of the “Science Clinics for Girls” programme, as well as the awareness-raising campaigns led by associations such as GASAT (Gender and Science Technology).

In Nigeria and in Tanzania, the percentage of girls in medicine and science has long remained stable, at about 25%, while a slight evolution in the other more technical disciplines has been observed.

Table 11: Percentage of Male/Female Enrolment at the University College of Education Winneba, in Ghana

FACULTY

Boys

Girls

Total

Boys

Girls

Total

Basic Sciences

Science

0,1

5,2

5,3

0,2

6,3

6,5

Home Economics

4,9

0,5

5,4

6,3

0,7

7,0

Math

7,0

0,4

7,4

7,5

0,5

8,0

Subtotal

12,0

6,1

18,1

14,0

7,5

21,5

Social Science

Sociology

8,3

0,7

9,0

6,8

0,6

7,4

Subtotal

8,3

0,7

9,0

6,8

0,6

7,4

Social Sciences

Art Education

4,8

1,8

6,6

5,8

2

7,8

Physical & Sports Ed.

5,8

0,5

6,3

6,8

0,9

7,7

Music

9,9

2,9

12,8

9,8

2,9

12,7

National Languages

13,6

4,8

18,4

11,7

4,4

16,1

English

6,6

2,8

9,4

6,6

3,2

9,8

French

4,6

1,8

6,4

4,5

2,0

6,5

Psychology

3,3

1,2

4,5

1,5

0,6

2,1

Special Ed.

6,8

1,7

8,5

6,8

1,6

8,4

Subtotal

55,4

17,5

72,9

53,5

17,6

71,1

Grand Total

75,7

24,3

100

74,3

25,7

100

Source: PBME, MOE, Accra - Excerpt from: Promotion of Science, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in Africa - Ghana Status Report, by Georgina Quaisie (1996), p. 54

Table 12: Percentage of Female Student Enrolment in Sciences and Technology Courses in Nigerian Universities

Year

Agricult

Engr. Tech

Envir. Des.

Medicine

Pharm

Science

Vet. Med

1985/86

13,0

5,4

13,5

25,2

30,6

23,8

10,6

1986/87

17,8

6,7

12,6

24,7

29,9

25,5

11,5

1987/88

18,3

7,0

13,0

23,6

29,6

27,0

13,5

1988/89

21,4

6,6

13,9

23,4

27,1

27,1

14,2

1989/90

22,7

5,9

14,0

24,9

25,0

27,0

13,9

1990/91

20,5

6,5

11,8

12,7

21,2

25,6

13,0

1991/92

23,0

10.9

12,5

25,8

18,5

27,8

13,6

Source: National University Commission (NUC). Excerpt from National Survey on Science. Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in Nigeria, by Eunice A.C. Okeke (1997), UNESCO-BREDA

Table 13: Percentage of Female Enrolment in Science and Technology Courses at the Universities of Dar-es-Salam, Sokoine and Muhimbili in Tanzania

SECTION

1992/93

1993/94

1994/95

1995/96


F

T

%F

F

T

%F

F

T

%F

F

T

%F

Diploma A. General

124

583

21

105

566

19

149

617

24

164

861

19

Dip. A. Education

76

275

28

77

276

28

101

301

34

104

427

24

Diploma Education

25

103

24

24

114

21

29

137

21

31

130

24

Dip. Educ. (PESO

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

38

8

8

60

13

Diploma Comm.

72

376

19

68

389

17

72

393

18

83

443

-19

Dip. Basic Sci.

39

177

22

29

269

17

34

175

19

23

155

15

Dip. Biology

2

46

4

2

60

3

4

61

7

4

67

6

Dip. Educational Sci.

29

136

21

31

133

23

46

166

28

48

222

22

Diploma Law

43

197

22

42

201

21

44

199

22

34

199

17

Diploma Engineer

35

721

5

25

856

3

25

776

3

27

877

3

Dip. Sc. Informatic

6

44

14

7

70

10

2

72

3

2

73

3

Dip. Sc. Electronics

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

13

0

1

30

3

Dip. Agricultural Sci.

0

18

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

451

2676

17

410

2834

14

509

2951

17

529

3544

15

Excerpt from National Survey on Promotion of the Equal Access of Girls to Science, Technical and Vocational Education in Tanzania, UNESCO-BREDA, by Cathleen Sekwao (1997)

It is interesting to note here that studies have been conducted on girls' performances in science and technology. The results have often argued in their favour, as indicated by the Smith study report (“Females in Science Courses in Swaziland: Performance Progress and Perceptions” - 1988), in the review Sciences & Technology (See Box 4).

Box 4: Smith Study Report on Girls in Science Courses in Swaziland

Based on data collected and analyzed. Smith (1988) concluded that girls could perform quite competently, even very well, if they are encouraged to do so. Girls are generally conscientious and proceed through university courses successfully. Regarding the under representation of females in science, two causes are advanced in the Smith study: (1) they are not encouraged in the pursuit of science at school; and (2) they do not perceive many scientific careers as readily accessible to women, (p. 81)

Excerpt from Study on Promotion of the Equal Access of Girls to Science, Technical and Vocational Education in Swaziland Status Report, UNESCO-BREDA, by Comfort B. S. Mndebele (1997), p. 10

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN

Employment is divided between the modern sector, including the Civil Service and private and semi-public enterprises, and the “traditional” rural sector. Between the two, another sector has emerged due to urbanisation: the unstructured or informal sector.

As shown above, due to sexually based stereotyping, many girls and women continue to be excluded from scientific, technical and vocational education. This exclusion makes it impossible for more than half the lifeblood of the continent to acquire the minimum of knowledge required to take an active, effective part in production.

Nonetheless, this part of the population continues to play an increasingly important role in the process of economic and social development. Indeed, women are found in every sector of the economy, traditional as well as modern.

In the traditional rural sector, women occupy an important place in food crop production.

In the unstructured informal sector, women are involved in trade, housework and handicrafts.

The modern sector is characterised by its relatively rational organisation and the existence of rules governing personnel and work. The low school attendance rate and high school dropout rate for females partly explains why employment is very limited for women. In this modern sector, women are found chiefly in civil services, particularly in education, health and social services, in such positions as office clerks and secretaries. In the private sector, they are more often in the service and manufacturing areas. Essentially, they have low-paying jobs without any professional skills. In a nutshell, these functions correspond to the traditional domestic role set for women.

In Zimbabwe in 1992, for example, women made up 28% of the labour force in the modern sector: 5% working as engineers and technicians, 7% of mining staff, 35% in manufacturing, 43.9% of the teachers in primary school and 35.9% of them in secondary school. They represent 51.5% of workers in the agricultural sector.

In Burundi, they constitute 40% of the Civil Service and 49% of personnel in education. In Benin, women represent 27% of Civil Service staff, 6% in the private sector and 90% of people working in the informal sector. Tables 14 and 15 provide a breakdown of their participation in the liberal professions and in strategic decision making bodies.

Table 14: Participation of Women in the Liberal Professions in the Modern Sector in Benin

PROFESSION

NUMBER

% WOMEN


Total

Women


Lawyer

63

11

17,5

Junior Lawyer

10

2

20

Bailiff

5

2

40

Pharmacist

77

38

49,4

Architect

92

3

3,26

Notary

6

1

16,66

Excerpt from Study on the Participation of Girls and Women in Science, Technical and Vocational Education in Africa - Case Study of Benin, by Legonou F. Blandine (1997)

Table 15: Status of Women on Strategic Decision-Making Bodies in Niger

POSITION

NUMBER

% WOMEN


Total

Women


Minister

18

3

16,66

Sec. General Minister

18

2

11,11

Pt Cons. Administration

72

6

8,33

Dir. Central Service

84

13

15,47

Excerpt from Study on the Participation of Girls and Women in Science, Technical and Vocational Education in Africa - Case Study of Niger, by Koukou Adamou (1997)

Table 16: Female Representation in Higher Education Teachers of Science and Technology in Madagascar

Subject

Total

Women

Total

Women



Effectif

%


Effectif

%

Management

13

5

38,50

14

6

42,9

Economics

26

10

38,50

27

10

37,0

Chemistry

55

23

41,80

57

23

40,4

Physics

66

13

19,70

68

14

20,6

Mathematics

46

8

17,40

49

8

16,3

Natural Sciences

117

51

43,60

120

52

43,3

Total Sciences

323

110

34,10

335

113

33,8

Medicine

56

8

14,3

64

10

15,6

Stomatology

18

6

33,3

19

5

26,3

Agronomy

20

2

10,00

21

2

9,5

Computer Science

98

1

11,1

9

1

11,1

Engineering

149

15

10,1

152

15

9,9

Total Techn. & Voc.

341

32

12,7

265

33

12,5

Excerpt from Study on the Participation of Girls and Women in Science, Technical and Vocational Education in Madagascar, by Raymondine Rakotondrawka (1997) BREDA Dakar

EQUAL ACCESS FOR GIRLS TO SCIENCE, TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION

Almost across the board in Africa, the countries are faced with the same problems for gaining access to scientific, technical and vocational education for girls.

The economic situation, which commands the number and type of employment, intervenes directly in the structure and training programmes which according to the diverse modalities, must adapt to business demands. The rules for distributing responsibilities and tasks among men and women are very difficult to change, for they are based on a complicated system of traditions, on organisations established for a very long time, and which are very close-minded about innovations, even when they are perfectly justified.

In fact, it is exactly in the scope of professional living that one clearly distinguishes differences in status between men and women. Some positions are automatically reserved for men, while others, generally those requiring less skills, are a priori assigned to women. Employers hesitate to transgress against these rules. These same hesitations or refusals also come into play when a position of responsibility must be assigned. A woman's professional career is hence confronted with these attitudes which are generally very hard obstacles to overcome.

The social environment also has a heavy impact. Solidly established customs and traditions determine the activities and responsibilities traditionally set for men and women. Preconceived ideas are very often applied, supported or accepted by several categories of people: parents, employers and educators, but often the youth themselves. In this distribution, the tasks that are set for girls and women are often very burdensome, and determining how to modify tradition would cause disapproval or provoke contradicting reactions.

The way in which the educational system functions plays a key role in girls' future. It depends intimately on her social environment and is closely linked to economic structures that offer job prospects to their students.

Basic education and general education must necessarily be articulated around vocational training programmes. The educational system is thus very dependent, and when it is not motivated by a desire for change, it is handicapped by extreme inertia and adapts extremely slowly to the modifications imposed upon it. Fortunately, however, when it is mobilised to reach new objectives, it is capable of being highly innovative.

One can therefore understand the complexity of the problem and the importance and extent of the measures and actions to be taken.

Considerable efforts have been consented to in all the countries. The measures mentioned in the case study reports can be summarised according to the following plan: - Legalisation; Institutions in charge of the feminine condition; the educational system; Awareness-raising campaigns.

LEGALISATION

In all the countries covered by the surveys, the equality of rights between men and women is guaranteed by a constitution or by general laws. However, many countries have been prompted to publish additional laws or regulatory texts to specify their notion of equality or the conditions for the appreciation of that equality: equality in education, vocational training, employment, and compensation.

Some texts take special care to detail the conditions for applying the law. In education, for example, girls who leave school because of pregnancy can return after the baby is born (Ministry of Education Directive - Kenya, 1994). Other laws provide that any girls showing the aptitudes and knowledge required for taking on whatever training can have access to all structures providing that training.

This felt need to specify the content of a general law clearly shows that in practice, these laws are not correctly or entirely applied, and that the equality they proclaim has not actually been realised.

The fact that these texts even exist shows that, without the appropriate legislative framework, a measure desired by the legislator and awaited by a certain category of concerned persons, cannot be turned to reality.

An analysis of the measures taken in the different countries shows that the very notion of equality has evolved. Reference is made not only to equal rights, but also to equal chances. This is an important nuance, for it is certain that equal rights is attested to in all the countries, but in practice, it is an entirely different story.

Indeed, in terms of employment, all fields are accessible to women, but those who do obtain positions of responsibility are the exception (Equality Regulation Law - Zimbabwe). It is not that they are exactly pushed away, but for a variety of seldom-admitted reasons, men are preferred over them, and unfortunately, this is accepted. Consequently, women do not enjoy the same opportunities, chances or even the same rights.

Promoting equal opportunities for women in education, training, employment and remuneration calls for a very precise knowledge of the situations they endure and the obstacles thrust in their path.

INSTITUTIONS

The Ministries of Education, of Vocational Training, Labour and Employment in principle deal with students, apprentices and workers. In that framework, they are implicated everywhere for promoting everyone's situation free of any discrimination, when a law so decides.

In nearly all the countries, it has proven indispensable to create either a specific body to handle women's affairs, or within a Ministry, to form a specialised body to study, promote and coordinate actions decided by their own ministries or by other decision-making bodies. These specialised agencies are found at every level of the social structure; however, their missions and structures can vary.

In some countries, entire ministries have been set up to handle only women's affairs:

· Ministry of Gender and Community Development in Uganda;
· Department of Women Affairs in Namibia;
· Ministry of Women, Children and Family (Ministère de la Femme, de l'Enfant et de la Famille) in Senegal.

Some ministries also have centralised departments to handle the promotion of equality of the sexes in every area of their scopes of action:

· Women Education Units in the federal and local ministries in Nigeria;
· Gender Equity Units in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Justice in South Africa.

In other countries, inter-ministerial commissions, national or regional committees with have been created, and are seated by teams of specialists who give their advice or prepare projects to be examined by the appropriate ministry:

· Inter-ministerial Committee for Monitoring School Attendance of Girls (Comité Interministériel pour le suivi de la scolarisation des filles) in Togo;
· National Commission for Women in Nigeria:
· Women and Child Abuse Centre in Namibia.

Finally, professional associations and non-governmental organisations also work in many countries for the advancement of women.

THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

By the educational system, we mean all of the structures that provide an education or ensure training, with all the organs of administration, planning, research and management tied to them. The role of this system is always primordial to ensure social promotion overall, and for girls and women in particular. Hence, it is only normal that many of the measures intended to ensure better access for girls to science, technical and professional education concern the educational system itself as a whole.

Expanding Access

The first type of measure adopted by most countries concerns expanding the school system, to increase attendance rate in primary education. In light of a primary cycle that is little developed and where girls' enrolment is still low, scientific, vocational and technical education lack a good recruitment base. However, after analysis of how enrolment has evolved subsequent to measures taken in several countries, one observes that the school attendance rate - or more precisely, the number of boys enrolled - is increasing regularly, while that of girls is advancing only very slowly, or at least much more slowly than it is for boys.

As already mentioned, it is the parents who are partly at the root of this state of affairs. They keep their girls at home because for one, tradition does not impart school attendance for girls with the same importance as for boys; and secondly, because girls are so very useful at home, where they engage in the tasks reserved for them.

In order to change this situation, action is needed in different fronts. First, the parents must be convinced and made to understand that school for girls is just as important and mandatory as for boys. The actions to be taken begin by information campaigns highly adapted to the audiences concerned so that mentalities can be changed to some degree.

Improved Articulation between Education and Training

In all the countries, it was observed that girls are naturally attracted to general education, to the detriment of specialised branches and vocational training. Moreover, when basic education covers only the general subjects or typically feminine practical work - which is the case if girls and boys attend separate schools -, then the few girls who do choose specialised, non-traditional streams have problems adapting. Nowhere in their everyday living or their academic past have they been in contact with activities that would prepare them to face their new situation better. Boys, on the other hand, are often more familiar with the training proposed to them.

Several countries have introduced major reforms in their educational systems that have had positive consequences for girls' access to scientific, technical and vocational training:

· Universal Primary Education in Tanzania and in Uganda;
· The 8-4-4 Education System in Kenya; Science Education for All in Zimbabwe;
· Ecole Nouvelle (New School) in Senegal.

The first measure consists of providing the same education to boys and girls, by making math and science mandatory at certain levels; in those disciplines, the girls learn that they can obtain the same results as boys, of which they were not convinced previously.

Moreover, it is considered important that the common fundamental programme should contain practical activities. In some cases, these activities prepare one directly for vocational training in various sectors. This approach has the double advantage of offering all students the opportunity to exploring relatively varied tasks, and to learn more about those that tickle their interest. They can also make their own observations about where they might have a greater propensity to succeed. It affords girls the opportunity to work in fields unfamiliar to them and to become aware that they are just as capable of succeeding in those activities that they thought were reserved for boys.

Included among the areas where these activities are found are:

· Practical Productive Activities (APP- Activités Pratiques Productives) in countries such as Niger;
· Initiation to Technology in Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, etc.,
· Home Economics, Initiation to Economics in Tanzania, Senegal, etc.;
· and so on.

Educational Programmes and Materials

The fight against sexism has led to the modification of some educational programmes. In fact, whenever girls and boys attend separate establishments, it has very often been remarked that the latter do not receive the same education as boys. While in all the countries, girls are less represented than boys in the scientific and technical options, it is often because the basic education they receive is inadequate for them to take up such subjects.

The purpose of the programme modifications has thus been to place all students on the same footing. When this involves choosing a subject as an option, girls must be given the same opportunity to choose as boys, and one must ensure that both are represented in all options.

In some countries, entrepreneurial education has also been introduced in vocational training centres to encourage self-employment and consequently jobs for women.

The role of educational equipment and chiefly scientific auxiliaries and equipment as facilitators in attaining pedagogical objectives no longer needs to be proven. These auxiliaries permit learners, first of all, to synthesise the scientific principles they interpret in order to better assimilate them, and secondly, to better comprehend the technological resolutions they convey. Boys as well as girls must therefore benefit fully from these pedagogical supports. It has been observed that because certain establishments were reserved for girls, they were less equipped with scientific auxiliaries. This is true for Kenya, where some all-girl schools did not teach science before the system was reformed into 8-4-4 in 1985, for lack of equipment.

The image that is given to men and women in their professional activities, and in the roles they play within the family and in society, can induce children to form stereotyped interpretations, and can often lead to reinforce prejudices about the disparities between the sexes. In nearly all the countries where surveys were conducted: Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, etc., there is a problem with the textbooks used and the presentations in them, which confine women to household tasks or to unskilled activities, while men are busy with important roles.

Box 5: Programmes in Kenya Before the 1992 Reform

The academic programme, particularly prior to the 1992 reform, discriminated against women. Because of the examples provided in schoolbooks, most girls believed that mathematics, the sciences and technology were designed for boys. As a result, girls were not motivated to excel in mathematics or in science. The revision of the programme in 1992 has attempted to be more sensitive in those areas.

Excerpt from: Promotion of the Access of Girls to Science, Technical and Vocational Education in Africa - Kenya Survey Paper, by Anne W. Njenga (1997).

Teacher Training

One of the major difficulties to be corrected when one wants to reform, adapt or develop an educational system is in the training of teachers. The very functioning of the education system rests on them; depending on their number, one can determine the number of students who can follow studies, and the results of reform largely depend on their capacity and degree of involvement.

Since we are concerned here with modifying the traditional academic behaviour of girls and their parents, the role of educators assumes special significance. The must, in order to make the best of this relatively new situation, receive training and information which will help them become aware of the problems posed by differential access to education in general, and to certain areas in particular, and which will prepare them to act effectively to promote equal opportunities for all their students. The attitude of educators described in Box 6 and which reflects the general situation in Africa, shows the extent and urgency of the measures to be taken.

It has been noted in all the countries that there is a greater abundance of women amongst primary education staff. This means that girls willingly go into education and often train successfully as grade school teachers, which is an important means of promotion for them. However, it is also observed in other cycles that they are concentrated in general subjects or in courses dispensing home economics and secretarial work. They are rarely seen in areas that are not traditionally feminine. The women who would be employed in such areas could serve as models to encourage women taking up such trades.

Box 6: Educators in Scientific and Technical Areas in Kenya

The majority of teachers teaching maths, science and technical subjects at all levels of our education system are men. In most cases, these teachers, because of their socialisation and stereotyping expectations, tend to encourage boys to excel in maths and science subjects. They often ignore the girls. At the time of making career choices, they will often encourage boys to enrol in maths-science and technical-based careers. They encourage girls to enrol in art-based careers. This gender discrimination continues to negatively impact on participation and achievement of girls in maths-science based and technical careers.

Excerpt from: Promotion of the Access of Girls to Science. Technical and Vocational Education in Africa - Kenya Survey Paper, by Anne W. Njenga (1997), p. 12

Helping to Catch Up

The observation across the board is that it has not been enough just to publish a law proclaiming equality between the sexes, unaccompanied by any other arrangements, to get rid of the problems encountered by women. There are still many girls who have suffered and continue to suffer serious handicaps and who, because of this, find themselves at an extreme disadvantage compared to boys. They can now receive special help to make up for their accumulated inadequacies.

In some countries, catch-up measures consist of reserving a certain number of places for girls in highly popular sections and making them accessible under certain conditions, or setting aside a percentage of posts which are mandatorily attributed to them for entrance exams. Tanzania, for example, has adopted a quota system in secondary schools, especially for science, technology and mathematics (STM). For entrance exams at the University in Zimbabwe and in Uganda, bonus notes are added to the grades for girls.

Another method has been to award scholarships or school aid to encourage girls to enter the scientific and technical fields. This has been done for girls from poor families in Tanzania (in collaboration with the World Bank).

In other cases, preparatory training courses and special courses permit girls who have not received appropriate training to go into science and technical education or to sit for exams or competitive entrance exams which require knowledge about such subjects. Among others, one notes:

· the vacation courses for girls at the University of Dar es Salaam;

· the science clinics for girls (See Box 7) and catch-up courses on weekends in Ghana.

It is very important to point out that these measures, which are deemed absolutely necessary to correct flagrant acts of injustice, must not be taken as final solutions or be applied when this situation does not call for them. Otherwise, they can lead to unexpected repercussions.

Box 7: Science, Technology and Math Education Clinics for Girls in Ghana

Under the National Technical Education and Vocational Training Programme (NACVET), special effort has been made to introduce girls and women to the streams deriving from science and technology, such as computer science, generic engineering, biotechnology and electronics. The Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (STME) Clinic for girls has opened other fields which women are beginning to enter. More girls now aspire to careers originally occupied by men. This year's evaluation of the clinic revealed a 75% increase in the number of girls who wanted to go into the scientific and technological streams at the end of the programme (STME evaluation).

Excerpt from Study on the Promotion of Science, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in Africa - Ghana Status Report, by Georgina Quaisie (1996), UNESCO-BREDA, (p. III?)

INFORMATION AND AWARENESS-RAISING

Actions have already been taken to sensitise people about discrimination between boys and girls. Such actions are primordial in fighting against sexual stereotyping and preconceived ideas. It is sometimes difficult to organise such actions; and they are often quite weak compared to expectations, but they are absolutely necessary to effect a change in mentalities.

The audiences concerned are often very diverse, even though the youth are the primary targets, for they are easier to convince about certain realities. Girls are encouraged to expand their professional choices. Boys are made aware of the handicaps that girls face. There is also a rising trend to promote the idea that professions must be approached based on one's interests and aptitudes, rather than one's sex.

Actions focussing on parents are also very important. It is they who, consciously or not, are often the vehicles for the stereotypes and discrimination between boys and girls. The image they carry of girls as wives and mothers or as career women blocks the way to certain professions which might be appropriate for their children.

The importance of raising the awareness of parents is seen in its immediate results. In Ghana, with the awareness-raising programme on the advantages of sending girls to school launched by the Government, some parents have not only sent their daughters to school, but have also lightened the girls' domestic chores so they can devote more time to their studies.

Teachers are concerned by such information campaigns for two reasons. First of all because they must become aware of the existence of sexist stereotypes and their consequences. Secondly, they must be informed of the effective measures to fight against inequalities between the sexes in all areas.

Other targets very close to educators play a very important role in this area. They are the academic and vocational orientation counsellors. Along with educators, they are the main experts who can pass on information to the youths and their parents that can contribute to changing mentalities.

CONCLUSION

All of the countries on the continent are in a similar state of affairs regarding girls' and women' access to science, technical and vocational training. The disparities between boys and girls has been noted everywhere. Girls do not receive as good an education as boys and are often confined to streams reserved just for them, and which are not as numerous as those reserved for their brothers.

At the same time, enormous efforts are beginning to be made to re-establish equal chances between the sexes, but it must be acknowledged that this is a delicate undertaking, and that the results obtained are still not commensurate with the investments made and efforts provided.

Mentalities must be changed as well as the ideas people have formed about the place women must occupy in society and the role they are supposed to play in the groups and institutions they belong to. There are many powerful factors that have established and are maintaining these ideas. They originate from very ancient traditions. The whole manner in which African society operates in its various spheres is based on a traditional division of the roles of men and women. By modifying this division, we affect the way the entire society functions and we modify its behaviour.

We can therefore measure the enormity of the task at hand, its extent and its complexity. Nevertheless, it is certain that the movement that is now underway will lead to progress, slowly but surely.