|Access of Girls and Women to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Africa (BREDA - UNESCO, 1999, 480 p.)|
During the last two decades the contribution that women render in various sectors has been stressed as an important factor to the economic, social and cultural development of a country. Nonetheless, as the experience of the Third World shows the position of women as compared to that of men has been very low. The interest of both sexes is not equally represented in current development practices: women do not have equal control over the decisions about development and do not leap it. There is an imbalance in the division of labour. Level of income, years of schooling, literacy rate are some of the social indicators of the low position of women.
In Ethiopia, for example, rural women spend a large part of their time in activities such as grinding, fetching water and firewood. This job, estimated to take up 15 hours a day goes unrecognized.
Women and girls in rural Ethiopia also take a major part in looking after animals in working in the farm which involves weeding, planting and harvesting. Essentially, the household chore includes farming activities.
PERSPECTIVES FOR THE ROLE OF GIRLS AND WOMEN
Education is considered to be important specially for girls and women in that it closely related to lower infant mortality and improved nutritional status. Educating girls and women gives them access to employment opportunities and puts them in decision making positions and enable them to act as role models for others.
Girls and women's education is a mean of increasing their participation in social and political life of improving their status in decision making and increasing their control over their lives.
Nevertheless, in Ethiopia the status of girls participation in schooling is much lower than that of boys. As shown in a number of Women Affairs Department, Ministry of Education, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. developing countries enrolment, persistence and performance of girls are generally lower compared to that of boys.
Although more schools are now being built near communities, distance remains a factor for parents to send their daughter to school. Once girls get enrolled school a friendly environment such as separate toilets, facilities and conducive social atmosphere encourage learning. More so it the teacher attitude. Many girls who have joined colleges now have responded that they have achieved better and got good grades in subjects teachers have encouraged them. In other words the influence and encouragement or discouragement of teachers have made them like or dislike certain subjects.
Gender stereotyping in text books that are male-oriented and that are written in the image of males do not bring positive attitudes in girl's learning. Rather, they reinforce the impression that girls are destined for low status and this affects their performance in different subjects. For this reason, teachers are being oriented in the preparation of gender-sensitive textbooks and some positive impact and gender balance has now been seen in newly prepared textbooks.
In the Community
The status of girls and women needs due consideration in the community - a place where many social, political, developmental and economical activities take place. In Ethiopia now, women and girls are encouraged to be assigned in community leadership, and in different constituencies. They are also organized in credit associations and are now becoming active in economic and social endeavours.
This has been very low, and chances are very minimal. Many women and young girls who are less educated are employed in jobs in the informal sectors. Due to lack of available capital, women are frequently engaged in catering services, grocery and other small service rendering activities.
In light of the above, efforts are being made to give priority to young girls and women. Different governmental and nongovernmental organizations are providing opportunities for women. Working environments are becoming conducive in factories and other production enterprises.
GENDER RELATED POLICIES FAVOURABLE TO THE EDUCATION AND PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT
Various policy declarations have stressed the need for women to take part in various economic, social and other sectors in order to bring about the desired change. These policies have indicated women as beneficiaries of available opportunities on an equal basis with men. Women and girls having been disadvantaged, having had less access to various opportunities than men. Now there is an advantage to working in conducive environment. In this regard, the second article of the National Policy on Women states that the government shall facilitate conditions conducive to the participation of women in both elaboration and decision-making process in regard to community development, social welfare, division of land property education and basic social services .
This article is pertinent and allows women to have equal access at various levels and in various sectors of development. There are more women now than ever in parliament and different constituencies. Women are now taking responsibility in management and decision making. Nonetheless, as the majority of women live in the rural agricultural sectors, a lot need to be done to ensure their ownership to land and to other property so that they participate and gain from the agricultural sector.
Elsewhere in the same policy document in Article five it states that: The right of women to get career and vocational guidance at any institution of education to have access to the same curricula as that of men and to choose their field should be ensured.
Guidance and counselling in career choice help girls and women to get into the proper field of study. Nonetheless, girls are disadvantaged in vocational choices and are inclined to the traditional stereotyped vocations. Vocational institution should cater to the needs of girls and make course content, practical and applicable. Vocational courses should provide opportunities for self-employment and help them get absorbed in different sectors. Curriculum should be relevant and ensure gender equity in content, methodology, choice of words and pictures.
In Ethiopia, this has been ensured by giving orientation to curriculum developers and textbook writers. On the other hand, different vocational courses are being devised for school leavers at different stages of the primary and secondary. Courses that have demand in the production and service sectors have been carefully identified, to be offered in existing and newly established vocational centers. This will definitely benefit girls and women.
The Women Policy also state that: There shall, in all ministries and government organisations, be a Department of Women's Affairs entrusted with responsibility of organizing women and promoting their interests.
Women's issues have to be integrated in different development policies so that each Ministry or Organization should be responsible to identify problems and help to promote the interests of women. In line with this, sectorial Ministries and Regional Bureaus have set up Women's Affairs Departments. The Function of these departments is to focus on women's issues, bring out problems and find solutions pertinent to women's issues. They bring to the attention of policy makers those issues of women that need immediate attention to the promotion and placement of women in their respective organisations.
Another policy statement which has a direct impact to women's education is the National Population Policy of Ethiopia which states: Raising the minimum age of marriage for girls from the current lower age limit of 15 at least to 18 years . According to various studies made in rural parts of Ethiopia, early marriage which leads to school drop out is one of the factors for educational wastage. Raising the minimum age of marriage for girls means few children quality of life, better health and other related benefits to girls and the family.
Most importantly the Education and Training Policy gives due consideration to females education, as can be noted in the following statements.
To gear education towards reorienting society's attitude and value pertaining to the role and contribution of women in development.
Special attention will be given to the participation of women in the recruitment, training and assignment of teachers.
Special attention will be given to women and those students who did not get educational opportunities, in the preparation distribution and use of educational support inputs.
Educational management will be democratic, professional, coordinated, efficient and effective and will encourage the participation of women
The government will give financial assistance to raise the participation of women in education.
The policies mentioned above call for attention and action for gender issues and gender perspectives. Gender issues need a continous follow up and should be considered as part and parcel of government programme. Activities here and there only will not do much but minimize some problems. Serious attention should be paid to gender gaps wherever they occur. Positive actions in favour of girls and women should be put in place. Workable guidelines should be formulated. To this end Women's Affairs Department should be active enough to follow-up the implementation of the policy declarations.
The Ethiopian Government is committed to promote women participation in the countries development endeavours as reflected in its various policy documents and concrete actions.
The measures taken have brought out positive attitudes. Women lawyers' association, women in education association and similar associations are also acting as pressure groups and help women issues.
PERSPECTIVES FOR THE ROLE OF GIRLS AND WOMEN IN SOCIO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
About 85% of women's labour is carried out in settled and pastoral agriculture. Due to the effect of poverty and under development, this sector lacks modern technology, especially with regard to those tasks carried out by women farmers and pastoralists.
The number of women who get jobs through the country's employment agencies, such as the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Civil Service Commission, has been improving. Yet, the number of women in decision-making positions is lower and there are relatively few women engaged in business ventures.
The total number of women employed through the Federal Civil Service Commission shows improvement but women employed as recent statistics show, is 13% in professional work and in administration 21% but 61% in the clerical. This shows that women are employed in the stereotyped professions in the majority. This does not include employment in the Regional Government Offices, the private sectors, and Non Governmental Organisations.
CURRENT TRENDS IN PARTICIPATION OF GIRLS IN SCIENCE SUBJECTS
In the general education system, all subjects are provided to both girls and boys. However, after grade ten, students either stream in the science or the social science subjects. Here the majority of girls choose the social sciences which lead to soft courses at the university level. Now orientation is provided to girls so that they choose the science subjects too. Many science faculties now encourage girls to enrol by providing special assistance once they register.
CURRENT TRENDS IN EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN IN THE TEACHING PROFESSION
To encourage more female teachers (positive steps are being taken). In recruitment of trainees in the teacher training institutes, special criteria are set to have more female applicants. Teacher Training Institutions reserve 30% of the admission seats for female trainees. Guidance and counselling as well as tutorial support are provided at the Institute to avoid attrition. Based on this recruitment criteria the participation of girls in Primary School Teacher Training Institutes has reached 35%.
More female head teachers are being assigned in schools. To encourage females participation in higher institutions, affirmative action has been taken. Accordingly, if two candidates who have the same grade point average compete and there is not enough placement for both, priority will be given to the female candidate. Furthermore, the grade point average at the Ethiopian School Leaving Certificate Examination (ESLCE), one of the entrance requirements to Higher Institutions, for girls has been minimized to give them a better chance. This mechanism has enabled girls to raise their number in universities and Colleges.
CURRENT TRENDS IN ENROLMENT OF GIRLS AND WOMEN IN THE TECHNICAL VOCATIONAL FIELDS
Traditionally, technical schools have mainly been open to male students. Girls were only encouraged to join separate field of study such as secretarial and specific vocations assigned for women. There were also fields in secondary schools specifically meant for girls; Secretarial courses and Home Economics, whereas technical subjects such as industrial arts, mechanical drawing, automechanics, electricity and the like were meant for boys. Even if girls were interested in the latter stream, they found it difficult to meet the academic demands of high grades in relevant subjects required for admission to these schools.
Traditional attitude and values with regard to male/female dichotomy of career's have inhibited girls' from enrolling and parents from encouraging their daughters to join technical vocational schools in general. Consequently, they are encouraged to choose such technical training areas as accounting and secretarial courses.
The technical vocational schools do not provide lodging facilities and parents are reluctant to send their daughters away from home. These technical vocational schools are usually situated at zonal or regional towns and accommodations facilities are not easily available.
Low self evaluation and the fear of competition in the performance of technical/vocational subjects and low teacher expectation of girls performance in subjects traditionally domains of male students has been a hindrance.
There are few girls role models in vocational education. Women teachers in vocational courses are still concentrated in home science and secretarial courses and not in mechanical, building technology and electrical fields which are now being provided in 25 centres in the country creating opportunity for those who have completed secondary schooling and would not continue higher education. Among those recruited as trainers there were only few women. This is because girls and women have been left out from technical subjects while they were in secondary schools. Nonetheless, girls are now encouraged to join such courses. The entrance criteria is being minimised and courses are made in such a way that they accommodate a variety of skills where students can join according to interest and availability of jobs in the market. This will gradually raise the number of women/girl trainers in these centers thereby encouraging more female trainees.
FACTORS (POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE) DETERMINING THE ORIENTATION OF GIRLS TOWARDS SCIENCE EDUCATION AND TECHNICAL VOCATIONAL
The education of children becomes costly specially for parents with many children and with very limited income. Even when no tuition fee exists, as in the case of primary schools in the country, other costs attached to schooling such as stationery and clothing, it become expensive for poor parents to afford sending their children to school. Thus economic problems of households and low socioeconomic status have been suggested to be an important reason for the majority of parents not to send children to school.
Opportunity costs of schooling
Rural families rely more on each family member to contribute to the family's survival, making the opportunity costs of educating their children very high for such families. This cost is much higher, for girls since there are a lot more labour required from girls than from boys at home.
If mothers are needed to work on the farm daughters are expected to assist or look after their siblings and carry out other domestic duties. As a consequence, girls miss school or leave school altogether.
Even when girls attend school, they will not have free time before and after school to do their homework. Therefore, this affects their performance. Now schools are being built near communities and girls can easily go to school. Appropriate technology is being introduced into communities and household chores are being minimized. These technologies include labour saving devices such as fuel saving chores, flour mills and pump wells which simplifies the work of the mother and daughter.
These factors include how girls and boys are brought up when they grow and how they are oriented and are expected to do. Societies expectation of the sex's has an impact on how they react to situations. Parents expect their daughters to behave in a certain way and they expect boys to behave in another way. This will have an impact on the schooling of boys and girls, in the choice of subjects, and later in the choice of career. Thus, the social environment where girls and boys are brought, will have a great deal of influence in their later lives.
The attitude that prevails that girls should be limited to the home and family activities and not to traditionally male dominated development activities hinders their participation in science and technical-vocational areas. The strict division of labour assigned early to male and female also has also an impact on the choice of subjects later in their schooling. Girls are geared not to opt for technical and science subjects that are apparently hard, sophisticated, and time taking and instead choose short courses or extension classes that can be done while attending to their family activities. This being the traditional practice, girls are now encouraged to join the field of study that were the domains of males.
Employment Related Factors
There is disparity in employment and job opportunity between male and female. Women are found mainly in informal sectors and in non skilled areas. The less educated women are found at the low earning job. The majority of women in rural areas are illiterate and girls that go to school drop out at different levels of the education system and do not complete higher education and the few who succeed do not have professional jobs such as, managerial and decision making posts. Moreover, there are very few lecturers in Higher Institutions in general and in engineering and the sciences in particular.
Nevertheless, women are now being placed in positions of administration and management. In schools they are being assigned as directors and assistant directors. They are being trained as guidance counsellors. They are joining various fields of study and opportunities for employment are now feasible with better chances for female employees.
Within School Factors
The poor condition of school facilities affects enrolment, particularly girls. While the lack of learning and teaching materials is likely to affect the performance of both boys and girls, the impact is more likely on girls. In addition, parents may be deterred from sending their daughters to schools where there are no separate latrines for boys and girls, particularly when they reach puberty. It has been found that girls are absent for long periods during menstruation period and this has a significant effect on their performance since they miss classes.
Gender-stereotyping in textbooks, have a negative effect on the performance of girls. Textbooks frequently portray females in household chores such as in the kitchen, looking after children, and males working in professional occupations. This reinforces the impression that their destiny is to work in low status household that do not need much education. The attitude of teachers toward girl learners and boy learners in asking questions, in sitting arrangement, in choice of subjects, in usage of laboratories and equipment, in assigning class work, in the type of questions asked and quality of answers from students also inhibits their progress in science and technical vocational fields. Therefore, if such issues are not addressed properly girls will be at a disadvantage and they will not participate fully and potentially. Thus, the science and technical subjects should be dealt in a manner which make girls participate equally to that of boys.