|The Role of Technical and Vocational Education in the Educational System in Ghana (UNEVOC, 1994, 46 p.)|
There is no gender distinction in the provision of education by the Ministry of education in Ghana. In 1961 the Accelerated Educational Development Plan established equal opportunities for men and women in education. Therefore, officially there is no discrimination against women in the matter of technical and vocational education.
The Ministry of Education through the Ghana Education Service, has in the on-going educational reforms revised the curriculum in such a way that provision is made for both boys and girls to study technical and vocational subjects at the various levels, beginning from the Junior Secondary School stage.
Other Ministries as well as some statutory organizations also provide technical and vocational education and training for their staff, including women, in their respective areas of operation.
In the Senior Secondary Technical Schools, options are available for the study of technical and vocational subjects by boys and girls alike. Under the educational reform programme, the number of Senior Secondary Technical Schools has been increased from 20 to 120. This means greater access to technical and vocational education for both boys and girls.
In spite of this favourable climate, most Ghanaian parents have been reluctant to expose their daughters to the "hard" and "harzadous" field of technical and vocational education and training. Consequently, the majority of Ghanaian females who have the benefit of education opt for general education rather than for technical and vocational education. Their employment naturally follows a similar pattern.
Barriers to Girls and Women's participation in TVE
The problem has arisen out of a number of socio-cultural factors, some of which are:
a) Societal Norms
These tend to make women feel reluctant to take certain technical and vocational courses which, because of longstanding practice, are regarded as the preserve of men.
Though there are available in the technical institutions a wide variety of technical and vocational courses which students of both sexes are free to undertake, girls normally opt for those courses which are traditionally regarded as being in the female domain, this being due to the commonly held view that certain technical and vocational programmes are by their very nature meant for men.
c) Feeling of Physical Incapacity
Because women have generally been known to do light jobs, they tend to shy away from those technical jobs which are strenuous and therefore require great physical exertion (e.g. Masonry, Plumbing, Carpentry and Joinery) or those taking place in unattractive environment (e.g. Motor Vehicle Mechanics, Auto-Body repairs and Welding).
d) Too Few Female role Models
There are generally too few role models of women in the technical and vocational field to encourage female students to prepare to enter similar technical professions.
The majority of female students are not aware of the training opportunities in the technical and vocational field which they can take advantage of. Most female students as well as their parents and guardians are ignorant of the value of technical and vocational education. They are therefore not sufficiently motivated to cultivate an interest in studying technical and vocational subjects like their male counterparts.
f) Lack of Encourgement
Female students do not get enough encouragement from their parents or guardians, teachers and peers to opt for technical and vocational education programmes.
The following are some of the solutions being applied to solve the problem of low participation of women in technical vocational education in Ghana:
a) As has been mentioned above, the official policy of the Ministry of Education has been strengthened by the diversification of the curriculum to lay emphasis on technical and vocational subjects being studied at all levels of education.
b) In the initial Teacher Training Colleges the policy is that all students must study at least one technical or one vocational subject. In time, therefore, there will be more female teachers capable of handling technical and vocational subjects in our schools and who will act as role models for the female students.
c) Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (STME) clinics
In August, 1987, a programme aimed at stimulating the interest of female students in Science, Technology and mathematics Education (STME) was started. The main objectives of the STME Clinics are:
i. to give selected female students the opportunity to meet and interact with established and practising Ghanaian and foreign professional women in STME;
ii. to attempt to change the attitudes of female students in matters of gender stereotyping in STME;
iii. to provide the participants with educational opportunities in STME that are well beyond those normally available in their courses or laboratory work in their schools.
d) There are now female co-ordinators in charge of programmes for Women in Development in some of the Technical Institutes in the public system.
e) By means of workshops, functional literacy classes and other activities held under the direction of women organizations, illiterate women are helped to function effectively in society by being trained in marketable skills including:
i. reviving of old skills;
ii. teaching of new skills, and technology to help them reduce the drudgery and physical labour entailed in their economic ventures and expand and maximize their productive activities.
f) Efforts have been made in the educational reform programme to design non-gender curricula which cater for a variety of potentials and, therefore, sustain the interest of girls as well as boys. For instance, at the Junior Secondary School level, both boys and girls are required to study all subjects including pre-vocational and pro-technical subjects. To implement this policy effectively, the Ghana Education Service in making every effort to supply the necessary inputs.
g) It is intended to organise extensive education of the public, parents and guardians, girls and staff of educational institutions in Ghana about the opportunities for technical and vocational education, training and employment for women to encourage female students to study technical and vocational subjects and later take up employment in that field.
h) As regards apprenticeships and industrial attachments for the purpose of practical training, there is no discrimination whatsoever against female students on technical and vocational education programmes.