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close this bookAccess of Girls and Women to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Africa (BREDA - UNESCO, 1999, 480 p.)
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The Status of Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in Madagascar

Raymondine RAKOTONDRAZAKA*

* Educationnal Planner.

The Republic of Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean, is inhabited by 12,421,000 persons, 50.4% of whom are women1. This population is characterized on the one hand by a very low educational level (83.3% of the population has had a primary education, at the most) and on the other hand by a high proportion of youths (64% of Madagascans are less than 25 years old). There is cultural diversity among the various groups, but they also share common cultural features, including the national language, Malagasy. French is used as the administrative language and for teaching, in addition to Malagasy. Madagascar is among the poorest countries in the world, and “nearly 75% of the population, which is growing at a rate of about 3% annually, lives below the poverty level.”2 It was in 1820, when Christian schools were first installed, that girls first began to receive instruction in Madagascar.

1 Institut National de la Statistique, Recensement Général de la Population et de I'Hahitat, Version provisoire. Antananarivo, 1995 (National Statistics Institute. General Population and Habitat Census, Preliminary Version)

2 République de Madagascar. Document Cadre de Politique Economique, 1996-1999. Antananarivo, p. 2. 1996

OVERVIEW

Status of Girls and Women

Even today, the traditional values in the attitudes and behaviour regarding women still subsist. The Madagascan proverb “Kofehy manara-mpanjaitra ny vehivavy,” which means “A woman is like the thread that follows the needle,” translates this image and situates the woman's place in Madagascan society - in the back seat. All social behaviour revolves around this philosophy, which strictly parcels out male and female roles.

Hence, the predominance of the male in society is generally accepted. Fathering a boy child becomes a goal, so that the paternal lineage can be perpetuated. At home, the woman, who is relegated to the background, takes on most of the domestic chores, even if she practices a trade. The strict division of roles between men and women has serious consequences on prolonged schooling for girls, particularly in needy families, as is the case for the majority of Madagascan homes. In fact, a girl's first responsibility is to lend a hand to her mother.

As far as the status of girls in school, the educational policy does not discriminate at all with regard to sex. Nonetheless, enrolment levels for girls in the educational system are still lower than for boys, despite parents' egalitarian attitude concerning sending their children to school.

In the community, the image of the “unobtrusive” woman tends, however, to be deceiving, for one observes women entering all areas (political, religious, social, economic, etc.), a phenomenon which tends to take on importance in a male-dominated society. This situation, inconceivable twenty years ago, has now, however, been favorably received by the general public.

Economic recession has somewhat shaken habits, and the idea of women working outside of the home is now largely accepted. Still, in the working world, where there is no sexually discriminating legislation, “the woman is disadvantaged compared to men at every level, be it in terms of wages or in the hierarchical order.”3

3 MADIO Project. Les inégalités selon le sexe dans l'emploi. (Gender-based inequalities in Employment) Antananarivo. 1996.

The Role of Girls and Women in Socioeconomic Development and Employment Opportunities

In socioeconomic development, the national population policy adopted by the Government in 1990 gives prime place to girls and women. This policy provides for the following arrangements, among others:

- Encourage women to go into the technical and scientific branches, which can orient them towards new and promising sectors;

- Conduct research and popularize the technologies designed to lighten domestic tasks (...) and farm chores done by women;

- Incite women to participate in the community and political activities...

- Incite and promote training programmes for women...

Since 1989, job opportunities in the public sector have been very limited, due to the structural adjustment policy advocating a freeze on new employment. The private sector and by far the informal sector, remain the sectors which provide jobs. On the average, nearly one-quarter of households earn all or part of their income from an informal production unit. One (1) active person out of five (5) works in this sector. It is worth noting that “52% of informal activities are conducted by women,”4 and in this sector, “women's roles are more important in the urban setting than in the rural setting. In fact, in the rural are, women are called upon to do farming activities.”5

4 Idem.
5 Idem.

Current Trends in the Educational System

Law 94-033 bearing on the General Orientation of the Education and Training System in Madagascar, provides for four types of training and education:

- Basic education (preschool, primary, literary, home economics);
- General secondary education (first and second cycles);
- Higher education; and Technical and vocational training.

In primary education and the first cycle of general secondary education, which take 5 years and 4 years to complete, respectively, there are no specialized classes. For secondary education, there are three series of specialization, starting from the first class (second year of secondary cycle);

Table A.1.1: Secondary Science Education

Classes

1984/1985

1994/1995


Total

Inc Girls

%

Total

Inc Girls

%

Première C

4 949

1 498

30,3

3 245

1 384

42,7

Première D

15 211

6 552

43,1

7 134

3 273

45,9

S/Total Première

20 160

8 050

39,9

10 379

4 657

44,9

Terminale C

4 616

1 450

31,4

3 551

1 222

34,4

Terminale D

14 800

6 161

41,6

7969

3 255

43,4

S/total Terminale

19 416

7 611

39,2

11 520

7 677

40,6

Total C Série

9 565

2 948

30,8

6 796

2606

38,3

Total D Série

30 011

12 713

42,4

15 103

6 728

44,5

Total sciences

39 576

15 661

39,6

21 899

9 334

42,6

- A or Literary Series;
- D or Scientific Series, without any predominating scientific subjects;
- C or Science Series, with chiefly mathematical subjects.

Participation of Girls in the Scientific Streams

In this area, we shall consider:

· the scientific series of second cycle secondary schools;

· the scientific streams at university faculties (Math, Physics/Chemistry, Natural Sciences, Economy and Management).

Considering just the scientific streams, an analysis of current trends shows that whatever the level of education, the proportion of girls remains less than that of boys (42% in 1995).

· At the General Secondary Education Level

Overall, one sees a reduction in the proportion of students (boys and girls) enrolled in the scientific series - while in 1990, 59% of the students took this series, that proportion had dropped to 56% in 1995. The same phenomenon can be observed for girls, especially for 1990, when only 51 out of 100 signed up for the science series; by 1995 this had dropped to 28 out of 100. Despite this reduction, the proportion of girls in this series remains substantial all the same. This is explained by the same internal yield for girls and boys at this level of studies.

At the same time, girls' participation in the C Series is much lower than for the D Series (in 1995, out of 100 girls in the last year of school (“Terminale”), 58 were enrolled in the literary series and 32 in the D Series, with only 10 in the C Series.

· In Higher Education

Just like the trend at the secondary level, one observes a drop in the proportion of students enrolled in the science streams. This could be explained on the one hand by the fact that stricter criteria for selection have been established, and on the other hand by the application of measures tending to limit the number of years that can be repeated during a cycle. These corrective measures, particularly for collegiate-type establishments, fall in line with the policy to improve the quality of higher education. Out of 100 students enrolled in universities in 1990, 41 were in the scientific streams. This figure dropped to 34 in 1995. As for girls, this proportion remained the same over this period, when 35 out of 100 were enrolled in that area. The indicator for internal efficiency indicator shows that girls perform better than boys in these streams, and consequently are less affected by the corrective measures. Indeed, while this proportion remained relatively stable from 1990-91 (at 37%), it began to rise in 1994, reaching 42% in 1995.

Tableau A1.3: Higher Education

Streams

1989/1990

1994/1995


Total

Inc. Girls

%

Total

Inc. Girls

%

Scientific

15 320

5 693

37,4

8 296

3 493

42,1

Medical Sciences

5 019

2 265

45,1

3 935

1 846

46,9

Agronomy

286

101

35,3

481

166

34,5

Administration (Ecole normale)

967

344

35,6

310

216

35,4

Computer Sciences

175

35

20,0

151

33

21,9

Polytechnic

2 149

302

14,1

1 044

146

14,0

Technical & Vocational

8 596

3 047

35,4

6 211

2 407

38,7

Participation of Women Professors in Technical and Vocational Education

In this section, we will consider:

a) Public professional colleges (2 years of study after 5 years in primary);

b) Secondary public technical colleges and high schools (entry after 1st cycle of general secondary school);

c) Higher vocational training establishments within the universities.

· At the Vocational College Level

These establishments were created in the 1980s for the purpose of recruiting primary-level students having left school. Considering the number of establishments and more particularly the very low number of students enrolled compared to the target population (10% at the most), this type of establishment does not seem to have attained its objectives. The proportion of girls in these institutions has varied little, hovering at around 40% over the past 5 years. 70% of these girls are enrolled in schools in the capitol, with the majority following the “cutting and sewing” stream.

· At the Technical College and High School Level

As one can tell by the enrolment levels, technical education in Madagascar is not well developed. In fact, in 1993, out of 38,196 students in the public secondary cycle, only 6,396 (17%) were in technical areas. Female participation at the technical schools is relatively weak: out of 6,396 students, 2,125 were girls, or 33% of the total enrolment. However, there is a strong presence of girls in the tertiary sector - 73% compared to 23% in civil engineering and 4% in the industrial sector. It would appear, therefore, that girls are less attracted by the last two sectors. This behaviour seems on the one part to reflect the poor public opinion of technical education, and on the other part the division of male and female roles reserving technical subjects for boys.

Tableau A.1.2: Technical Secondary Education


1988/1989

1992/1993

Sectors

Total

Inc. Girls

%

Total

Inc. Girls

%

Tertiary

2 326

1 421

61,1

2 306

3 493

67,1

Civil Engineering

2 848

456

16,0

2 840

1 846

17,3

Industrial

1 725

137

07,9

1 250

166

06,5

Total

6 899

2 014

29,1

6 396

216

33,2

· In the Advanced Technical Establishments

One can only be admitted to this type of establishment by passing an exam, with the exception of the higher institutes of science and health, where up until 1994/95, candidates were admitted through a selective process. Consequently, in terms of absolute value, the enrolment levels at these establishments were relatively the same, as the number of students that can be admitted is fixed, and the internal efficiency level for such studies is high. In 1994, there was a total of 7 892 students in vocational colleges, compared to an overall total (all students at all the universities) of 26,937. In relative value, the proportion depends chiefly on the total number of students enrolled at the universities, which dropped as sharply as a result of the corrective measures. While it was 23.2% in 1990, in 1994 it had reached 29.3%. While the enrolment for girls is always lower than for boys in higher education, this is especially true in the technical and professional/vocational streams. In fact, 45% of students attending university are female. They represent only 38% of those in the technical/vocational areas. This proportion has risen slightly, however, from 35% in 1990 to 39% in 1995.

Teaching Staff

For the teaching personnel, we shall consider three categories:

- General Secondary;
- Technical Secondary;
- Higher Education.

For each of these categories, there are much fewer female teachers than male teachers.

· General Secondary Education

Out of 100 teachers in general secondary school (all specialities combined), 47 are women. 41% of teachers at this level teach science. Among those science teachers, 38% are women.

Tableau A.2.1: In General Secondary Education)


Secondary Education, 1st cycle

Secondary Education, 2nd cycle

Subjects

Total

Inc. women

% Women

Total

Inc. Women

% women

Mathematics

1112

319

28,7

28,7

287

22,3

Natural Sciences

944

527

527

55,8

328

63,7

Physics/Chemistry

909

253

253

27,8

2581

27,9

S/total scientific

2965

1099

1099

37,0

866

39,6

Total (All Subjects combined)

6782

3086

3086

45,5

2466

51,5

· Technical Secondary Education

Out of 1 193 technical teachers (all specialities combined), 358 are women, or 30%. Among the professional staff, 854 have a science and technology diploma, and 183 or 21% of them are women. While they are strongly represented in the tertiary sector, where they represent 60% of the staff, this proportion falls to just 2% in the other combined sectors (industry and civil engineering).

Tableau A.2.2: In Technical Education (1995-96)

Sectors

Total

Inc. Women

%

General Subjects

386

192

49,7

Tertiary

118

71

60,1

Civil Engineering

358

01

00,3

Industrial

127

02

01,6

Home Economics

87

87

100,0

Agric. Animal Husbandry

16

6

37,5

Total

1092

359

32,8

· Higher Education

There are 865 professors in the six universities of Madagascar, including 259 women representing 30%. According to a classification system based on diploma specializations, one notes the poor representation of women holding scientific degrees (in management, economics, chemistry, natural sciences, physics, medicine...). The ratio is even lower, for out of 100 science degree holders, only 13 are women. Due to the freeze on job recruitment, this trend has remained the same.

Table A.2.3: Higher Education


1993/1994

1994/1995

Discipline

Total

Inc. Women

%

Total

Inc. Women

%

Management

13

5

38,5

14

6

42,9

Economics

26

10

38,5

27

10

40,4

Chemistry

55

23

41,8

57

23

20,6

Physics

66

13

19,7

68

14

16,3

Mathematics

46

8

17,4

49

8

20,6

Natural Sciences

117

51

43,6

120

52

43,3

S/total Sciences

323

110

34,1

335

113

33,7

medicals Sciences

56

8

14,3

64

10

15,6

Dental Surgery

18

6

33,3

19

5

26,3

Agronomy

20

2

10,0

21

2

9,5

Computer Science

9

1

11,1

9

1

11,1

Other Engineering

149

15

10,1

152

15

9,9

S/total technique et professional

252

32

12,7

265

33

12,5

FACTORS DETERMINING GIRLS' ORIENTATION TOWARDS SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION.

Despite the declarations of intention aimed to encourage women to take a greater interest in the technical and scientific branches as part of the national population policy (Cf. supra), one is obliged to admit that no concrete actions have been undertaken to that end.

Even to date, no studies exist highlighting the factors that really determine how girls are oriented towards scientific, technical and vocational education. This issue certainly merits serious, in-depth study.

The following analysis will advance a few hypotheses concerning these factors. Factors can be of two kinds: on the one hand, the direct factors, and on the other, those which can act indirectly on orienting girls towards scientific, technical and vocational education.

Factors Related to Employment and Labour

The criteria for recruitment and the modalities of remuneration in the Civil Service, based only on one's diploma level, failed to inspire students to go into the scientific, technical and vocational streams. In fact, since the sole objective was to obtain a diploma, it was deemed easier to get it in the literary streams. For girls, this was even further aggravated by the attitude of reserving the technical areas and hence related trades for boys only.

The private sector, particularly in the productive factor, favoured by an economic policy opting for the market economy, has become the first provider of jobs in the formal sector, due to the job freeze in the public sector, and it seeks candidates predominantly from the technical and scientific areas. This could encourage students to turn a little more towards technical and vocational training.

The preponderance of the informal sector has now become a factor hindering greater school attendance, and hence orientation towards technical and vocational education. This sector, in fact, where most of the workers are women, aims essentially at meeting household needs and is oriented more and more towards commercial activities that do not always require any special technical skills.

The massive implantation of free-zone enterprises operating namely in the clothing industry, seems to constitute another factor that discourages girls from turning towards technical and vocational training. These companies have a high potential in terms of employment, yet do not require high technical skills to qualify. In fact. they recruit essentially women (84% of personnel).

Factors Related to Social Behaviour

At the same time, in the past few years there has been an emergence of national efforts to raise awareness about women's role in the development process. As previously mentioned, this conscious-awakening has been accompanied by women entering areas previously reserved for men (as ministers, deputies, mayors, heads of companies, etc.). The stellar image of these women could inspire young women to go on to higher studies and to choose training streams other than those traditionally frequented by girls.

Moreover, a change in mentalities accepting the idea of women working outside of the home seems to be a positive factor stimulating girls' orientation towards technical and vocational education. In that scope, studies show that parents as well as their daughters who come from a rural environment, are now aspiring for a more technical and professional education so that the latter can practice a trade later on.

Technological Factors

The country's poor technological development has hindered its ability to create many jobs. Since recruitment perspectives have an influence on the streams chosen by students, this situation has not encouraged their orientation (boys and girls) towards technical and scientific areas. Moreover, the majority of existing enterprises prefer to hire people with very little skills and then proceed to train them on-the-job or for specialized tasks. Hence, the young people see no need to take up any specific technical training in order to get a job.

At the same time, one notes that the development of computer science use in the private and public structured sectors, has created a high demand for training in that area and generated a proliferation of small training establishments. There is high female participation in the “Office Skills” cycles.

Factors Related to Education

The lack of a clear orientation and information policy in both the secondary and the higher education systems, is a major block to orienting students towards technical and vocational education. This shortcoming is aggravated by a lack of information about job opportunities in the country which could influence the choices pupils/students make.

The three ministries in charge of formal education (Primary and General Secondary. Technical and Vocational Education. Higher Education) are currently drafting a document on Sectorial Policy for Education. Hopefully, this policy will succeed in correcting shortcomings at the orientation level.

In secondary technical and vocational education, the paucity of areas of specialization responding to girls'aspirations is one of the principle factors limiting their orientation towards this type of education. Moreover, the areas that do interest them are available only in the major cities. This inaccessibility constitutes a second discouraging factor.

Access to higher education for graduates from technical high school is very limited, This state of affairs makes high school students reticent towards technical education, for it prevents them from gaming access to more advanced studies permitting them to obtain higher diplomas - the guarantees of better income and hence of social prestige. Technical education therefore becomes a second choice.

The diversification of the vocational streams and institutes as initiated in the framework of the recovery policy for higher education beginning in 1993, could certainly pull in a greater number of male and female students and encourage them to opt for the scientific series. Indeed, the possession of a science baccalaureate is one of the conditions for admission to most of these institutes.

MEASURES TENDING TO PROMOTE EQUAL ACCESS OF GIRLS TO SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL AND PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION

The legislation in force makes no gender discrimination for or against anyone desiring to undertake any type of education, be it at the secondary level or higher. As was already mentioned above, all the declarations to encourage women to become more involved in the technical and scientific branches have remained at the good intention stage: no arrangements have been made to really promote girls' access to this type of schooling.

National Strategies and Structural Measures

A National Action Plan for the Education of Girls was adopted by the Government in 1995. However, this plan, which focuses on the promotion of schooling for girls in general, does not provide for any specific activities favouring their technical and professional education.

As for secondary vocational and technical school, priority is still focused on the general promotion of this type of education. This preoccupation led the Government to upgrade the Directorate of Technical and Vocational Training into a ministry. The Government set up a major reinforcement project to restructure and develop this type of training, which it calls the “Project for the Reinforcement of Technical and Vocational Training,” financed by the World Bank. Moreover, a National Council of Technical and Professional Training in which the private sector plays an important role, was created and disposes of funds to finance vocational training actions. In that framework, actions favouring training for girls and women are a priority.

At the higher education level, the policy now in force encouraging the professionalization of education will undoubtedly influence students' attitudes towards scientific, technical and professional education.

Public Information Campaign

Although no specific public sensitization or information campaign exists concerning scientific and technical education for girls on the national scale, still, one can mention the start of sensitization for promoting more advanced education for girls. Over the past years, the government has taken advantage of the celebration of International Women's and African Women's Days to raise public awareness about the role of women in the development process, and the education of girls, particularly their orientation towards technical and vocational education, making it one of the most highly recommended means of passing the message.

Incentive Measures Favouring Employment

Despite the Government's obvious will to create an environment propitious of creating jobs, as seen in the following actions:

· the integration of the private sector on boards of directors of public higher institutes of learning;

· priority given to vocational training projects;

· the creation in each region of an Observatory of Competency and Employment, in charge of Professional orientation and employment,

its incentive measures still seem inadequate. There are a few related projects underway, conducted in collaboration with multilateral partners, and NGOs, aimed at facilitating self-employment. These projects are implanted in the provinces' administrative seats. Particular mention can be made of the project executed by the ILO, entitled “The Socioeconomic Promotion of Madagascan Women: Through Professional Training Required to Exercise Income-Generating Activities.”

Generally speaking, the application and prolongation of these measures is confronted by financial problems, due to Madagascar's difficult economic situation.

SPECIFIC INFORMATION CONCERNING SCIENTIFIC EDUCATION

This section chiefly concerns the study programme at the primary and secondary education levels. The programme is unique and national for each year of study for both levels. Science subjects are included in the academic program, as specialized subjects (primary and secondary), and are mandatory.

Number of Hours Spent on Scientific Subjects

· At the Primary Level

The scientific subjects (calculation and everyday knowledge) take up a total of 6 hrs, 30 mins. out of 27 hrs, 30 mins. of study a week, for each year of study. They come second after the mother tongue.

· At the General Secondary Level (Up until the third year (“Seconde” or “Deuxième” = 11th grade)

The proportion of hours occupied by the scientific subjects (math, physics, chemistry and natural sciences) increases as the level of study rises, taking up an average of 35% of the total number of hours (or about 10 hours out of 29 a week), up until the second year of high school (Troisième), and reaches 41% in the third year (Deuxième).

Starting with the third year (Premiere, or 10th grade), where one begins to specialize by series, the proportion of hours devoted to the scientific subjects diminishes noticeably in the literary series (26% in 3rd year and 18% in last year). In the C and D science series, the three scientific subjects (math, physics/chemistry and natural sciences) out of 11 subjects taught take up a large share, with 47% of class time.

Teaching related to the environmental sciences, focusing particularly on its protection, is dispensed within the framework of civic education which is mandatory, at the primary level and in secondary school, first cycle.

Education related to health issues, beginning in 5th grade (7ème), is integrated into the “everyday knowledge” subjects. It is worth pointing out that the notion of sexually transmissible diseases (including AIDS) is addressed as early as 5th grade (7ème).

· For Secondary Technical and Vocational Education

Considering that graduates from this type of education are expected to be immediately operational on the job market, the hourly volume of the technical and technological subjects takes up a large chunk of time: about 51 % for every year of study.

Data on Girls' Achievements

While it has been proven by studies and statistics that generally speaking, girls succeed better than boys, to date, no specific study has been conducted to evaluate the scientific achievement of girls.

CONCLUSION

The extreme poverty now prevailing in the country has resulted in a deterioration of social services, including education. The phenomenon of no schooling and of school dropouts has reached disturbing proportions. As a result, the main concern is to correct this state of affairs, even if statistics show that other problems exist, such as the underrepresentation of girls, namely in primary school and in technical and vocational education.

In light of the activities currently under way at the national level on the one hand, and on the other hand of the beginning of a change of attitude regarding the role/status of women and of thinking about technical and vocational education, one can hope that the next few years will bear witness to better development of scientific and technical education in favour of girls in Madagascar.