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The findings > Thematic Studies> Girls Education>Part 3
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Through the preparation and debate that took place before, during and after international conferences and other efforts, a key understanding was reinforced: girls' equal access to quality schooling is their fundamental right and is necessary for national and human development.
International Conferences Promoting Girls' Education
A series of international conferences since Jomtien has prompted countries and agencies around the world to implement new policies, programmes, and projects that have resulted in reducing the gender gap. These international meetings have highlighted the importance of educating girls in order to achieve social and development goals and have mobilized governments, NGOs, and other organizations for change in several ways: symbolically, as members of the world community rally around issues of girls' and women's education; through their substance and through networks constructed at the conference; and through their subsequent plans for action that nations consult in developing national and local action plans.
In 1993, representatives from the world's nine most populous countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan) came together at the E-9 Education Summit. The countries, which account for more than half of the world's population and 70 percent of its illiterates, pledged to achieve universal primary education by 2000.
The International Conference on Population and Development (1994) in Cairo (ICPD), underscored the importance of human rights, female empowerment, autonomy and education and linked these to the development of society as a whole. Participants from 179 countries re-examined the role of population in development and adopted a programme of action calling for the gender gap in primary and secondary education to be closed by 2005.
Participating states in the World Summit for Social Development (1995) in Copenhagen pledged to advance universal, equitable access to quality education to help eradicate poverty, promote employment and foster social integration, with a particular emphasis on girls' education. Attention to education runs throughout the entire platform of the Fourth World Conference on Women (1995) in Beijing and occupies a prominent position within the separate critical area of concern on the Girl-Child. Strategic objectives include the following:

Equal access to education including 80 percent completion rates and closing the gender gap by 2005 (to be facilitated by including women in making decisions and in mobilizing sufficient resources);

Reducing female illiteracy to half its 1990 level, focusing on disadvantaged women and expanding the definition of literacy;

Promoting women's roles in vocational and technical training for income-generating opportunities, particularly in food and agricultural research and extension;

Advancing non-discriminatory education through gender awareness training for teachers, leadership training, the use of gender studies and research to improve education, and the development of multicultural, multilingual curricula for indigenous women and girls;

Allocating sufficient resources for educational reforms and monitoring;

Promoting lifelong learning for girls.

Participants in the Mid-Decade Meeting of the International Consultative Forum on Education for All (1996) in Amman candidly reported that progress in girls' and women's education since Jomtien had been very slow. The gender gap in net enrolment rates (NER) had worsened everywhere except in the Arab states. The agenda for the last half of the decade called for legislation for compulsory education; social mobilization to persuade families of the benefits of educating girls; enhanced gender sensitivity in curricula and throughout education systems; safe, girl-friendly schools; addressing cultural and religious needs; and the need for incentives, (e.g., stipends and day care facilities to encourage girls' attendance). It also called on for the media to communicate positive images of educated girls and women.
The International Conference on Child Labour in Oslo (1997) focussed on the detrimental impact of children's work on their opportunities for education. Participating governments agreed to create time-bound programmes for universal and compulsory education with a particular emphasis on girls' education.
International Agency Initiatives
Conferences have contributed to new initiatives for girls' education. Particularly in the second part of the decade, a number of international agencies increased their support for girls' education. While some viewed this as particularly aggressive advocacy, others saw it as a critical strategy to assist countries to achieve EFA. This section highlights a few of the programmes that have promoted various aspects of girls' and women's education.
Within international agencies and governments a number of factors also militate against success in promoting girls' education. An important one is the limited state of knowledge about the complexity of girls' education issues. Since advocacy is frequently the first step in promoting girls' education, agencies must take this complexity into account and ensure that initiatives in this area receive the careful study, design, implementation and monitoring that they require. Merely formulating the objective of improving girls' enrolment, attendance or achievement is not sufficient. Logical links between the activities or strategies and the objective must be clear. When they are not, it is not uncommon that so-called girls' education projects benefit boys more than girls, and result in little discernible impact on girls.
This preparatory phase that focuses on understanding complexity is as crucial to eventual success as is the implementation phase itself. Analysis and planning needs to be factored into the design phase and supported with adequate time and resources. To facilitate this, appropriate criteria for tasks and for job performance need to be developed. Similarly, the knowledge gained through research, programming and implementation need to be widely disseminated--both the successes and failures.
All these international agencies (and others) have sponsored studies, evaluations, and reviews that have played a major role in documenting the experience in girls' education. Information about innovative programmes, what works and lessons learned have often emanated from or been supported by these agencies. In addition, most maintain web sites that make such information available via the Internet.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), in partnership with UNICEF, provided $10 million between 1994 and 1996 to 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa to support girls' education . The purpose of the CIDA investment was threefold: i) to assure girls' access to equitable, quality and relevant primary education so that they would have equal opportunity in participating in their community and society; ii) to develop a long-term plan and strategy for continued CIDA-UNICEF partnership in advancing girls' education; and iii) to contribute to implementation of the UNICEF Global Girls' Education Programme. The development of a multi-country girls' education programme helped to identify common programmatic categories requiring attention in each participating country. It became clear that additional attention was needed for policy development; capacity building of the teaching staff, managers, planners, administrators, and institutions; raising awareness of girls' education and gender issues through advocacy and social mobilization efforts; and improving monitoring systems.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is a broad based, multi-sectoral agency and has not identified specific target groups. However, within its general mandate of poverty eradication, the agency has invested several hundred million dollars in basic education and adult learning.
The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) programme to promote girls' education has focused on Africa, principally through two projects. The first, a six-year Special Project on Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in Africa was launched during the biennium 1996-1997, with the aim of reducing gender disparities in these areas. Support is provided for such activities as science camps for girls (Ghana and Botswana). An ongoing collaboration with FEMSA has worked to identify science topics of greater interest to girls (e.g., on environmental issues or solar energy). The second project is "Guidance and counseling for school-age girls in Africa", a programme which trains trainers to help girls (and boys) deal with issues such as HIV/AIDS infection, drug abuse, and pregnancy. A guidance and counseling center is being developed for Anglophone Africa in Malawi, and a Francophone Center is in the planning stages.
The United Nations Food and Population Agency (UNFPA) promotes basic education, particularly the education of girls, within the overall context and goals of the ICPD Programme of Action. It recognizes the need for improvements in basic education as an important prerequisite to sustainable development and as a factor in the development of well-being through its links with demographic as well as economic and social factors. As stated in the ICPD Programme of Action (Chapter Xl, Population, Development and Education), reduction of fertility, morbidity and mortality rates and the empowerment of women are largely assisted by progress in education. Specifically, the Programme of Action aims "to (a) achieve universal access to quality education, with particular priority being given to primary and technical education and job training, to combat illiteracy and to eliminate gender disparities in access to, retention in, and support, for education; (b) promote non-formal education for young people, guaranteeing equal access for women and men to literacy centres; and (c) introduce and improve the content of the curriculum so as to promote greater responsibility and awareness on the interrelationships between population and sustainable development, health issues, including reproductive health and gender equity" (United Nations, 1995).
Through the education activities it supports, UNFPA aims to contribute to improvements in the quality of basic education through the introduction of more relevant (population and development related) curricula, promoting curricular reforms and more effective teaching techniques; and to keep the education of girls and women high on national and international agendas. Implementation of this strategy requires comprehensive and sustained advocacy efforts at global, regional and national levels to get the full commitment and support of governments, as well as those of relevant international agencies and non-government organizations. At the country level, advocacy has been directed at encouraging community participation in support of education, both in terms of parents' support to girls' access and parent/community support for population education activities.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Global Girls' Education Programme is a multi-country programme that supports girls' education and aims for equitable and quality education for all in more than 60 countries. The global programme is guided by the principles detailed in the Girls' Education: A Framework for Action, a UNICEF document first produced in 1996 after several years of consultation. UNICEF's rationale was that by targeting girls UNICEF would be reaching a large proportion of the educationally disadvantaged, and doing so in a way that would benefit the entire educational system.
Using a set of seven broad strategies: support to ongoing Country Programmes of Cooperation, Advocacy, Partnership, Communication, Knowledge Building, Support to NGOs and Resource Mobilisation, UNICEF is supporting education opportunities in countries such as Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, Guinea and Egypt. The Sara and Meena Initiatives in Africa and Asia respectively, have produced a series of comic books, videos and posters in support of girls' education. Advocacy for girls' education continues with UNICEF support in places such as Djibouti, Bhutan and the Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Building on UNICEF's work with CIDA, a partnership between Norway's Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNICEF has increased girls' access to education in most of the 18 countries and targeted zones served by the African Girls Education Initiative (AGEI) being carried out in sub-Saharan Africa. AGEI emphasises regional capacity building and nation state's attention to girls' education at all levels, from national education plans and policies to classroom instruction and interaction. Noteworthy experiments with alternative and non-formal education (NFE) include Guinea's Nafa Centres, Satellite Schools and NFE centres in Burkina Faso, and schools in remote areas of Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has supported girls' education programmes in 17 countries in Africa, South-East Asia, South and Central America since 1981, but the majority were initiated after 1989. The projects are ongoing in 14 countries. USAID identified expanding basic education for girls as a special focus and, as a result, has spent $200 million between 1990 and 1996 in this area. A range of strategies and activities were used in the 17 countries and a recent review of the decade's experience indicated that "the supply of schools-the quantity, their quality their suitability for girls, and their costs" was the most common obstacle to girls' education. The elements identified as necessary for successful education for girls included making the promotion of girls' education a social norm, political will to make and sustain investments, and broad engagement by community, NGOs, government, business and international donors.
The World Bank has identified girls' education as an institutional priority and has a target of lending $900 million each year for projects to increase girls' access and achievement. While this target has never been met the Bank has been attempting to work with client countries to help them identify barriers to girls' schooling and develop appropriate policies. Focusing on 31 countries (World Bank clients with large gender disparities in education related to lending for girls' and women's education), the World Bank tries to promote a multi-pronged response including advocacy, reducing the costs of girls' schooling, school and classroom construction, teacher training, quality enhancement and greater involvement of women in school management and administration. Through partnerships the World Bank has also worked to identify effective interventions, build capacity in effective resource utilization for EFA, try out innovations, and ensure a means of more effective implementation of girls' education programmes in developing countries .
Efforts of the past decade have taught the world community a significant amount about how--and how not--to expand and improve education for girls. For example, funding expensive pilot projects that a country will never be able to afford to take to scale does not work. Many other efforts are successful. Lessons learned since 1990 about educating girls are here grouped into six areas: political will, leadership, supportive fora, new partnerships, using a systemic approach, and conducting careful research and collecting reliable data to support action.
Political Will
Girls' education is more than an educational issue; it is deeply influenced by poverty, tradition, habit, legal systems, and discrimination, among other things. Political will is required, not just to educate girls, but also to eliminate those non-education obstacles. Lessons the past decade taught about policies, programmes, and planning will be crucial to providing equitable education for all in the decade ahead.
Gender-specific policies that target girls are necessary. Coherent policies (such as raising the legal marriage age) and programmes are required that do not assume girls' education simply improves as other aspects of primary education improve. A general expansion of primary schools will initially attract both girls and boys, but a certain proportion of girls will remain out of school unless specific barriers are overcome. Simply expanding primary education without specific regard to the factors affecting girls is insufficient to increase girls' enrolment . Policies and programmes that national and community leaders develop to achieve education goals for girls contribute to the crucial process of building consensus around the importance of girls' education at all levels of society.

The Botswana Re-Entry Policy

What are the effects of the Ministry of Education's re-entry policy that allow girls who were pregnant to re-enter the school system? FAWE sponsored this study to analyse and investigate the adequacy, impact, and implementation of this policy that dates to the 1970s.

Employing a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, including survey questionnaires, interviews, focus group discussions and document analysis, the study interviewed secondary school students, secondary school teachers and head teachers, primary school heads, community members, officials from the Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and UNICEF, and members of village development committees. Access to national statistics allowed for calculation of dropout and re-entry rates.

The study found that three out of every 100 girls dropped out due to pregnancy compared to nearly zero for boys. Constraints hindered effective implementation of the policy and resulted in gender discrimination in its application at school level. Hindrances included:

Poor collaboration among the three Ministries responsible for implementing the policy;

Lack of clarity in some clauses of the policy;

School heads, students, and community members lack of awareness, understanding of and support for the policy;

Stringent re-admission procedures for girls; and

Negative attitudes of both students and teachers towards the returning female students.

As a result of these factors, re-admission rates for girls were low, lower than those for boys. Due to the confidentiality clause in the policy no data could be collected on the persistence and performance of those who were re-admitted, making it difficult to monitor or evaluate the effectiveness of the policy.

The government of Botswana has since decided to revise the policy, to review implementation guidelines and, through the Central Statistics Office, to revamp the way in which data on dropout is collected from Botswana's schools.

Source: Chilisa, 1997. An Analysis and Evaluation of the Botswana Re-Entry Policy, FAWE

Political commitment at senior levels from those who make policies and decisions is necessary to move girls' education forward. Policy development and reform needs to take place at a central and senior level. It is vital that any policy changes be made within the context of planning and development of the educational system as a whole. Girls' education policies cannot be left outside the Ministry of Education or to a newly formed and disconnected unit or project implementation unit. The education of girls needs to be an integral part of the management of the national educational system. Examples of this include the Ugandan government's adopted a National Strategy and Plan of Action for Girls' Education in 1998, and Burkina Faso's "National Plan for Girls' Education (1994-2000)." This plan aims to ensure access to schooling for all children, improve educational quality, increase community participation in education, and improve capacity building at the national level.

As countries in every region develop future plans to ensure education for all within the next 10 to 15 years, this set of questions may guide discussions for future planning:

Is the policy environment appropriate or are changes needed?

Have the right populations been targeted?

What barriers to implementation still exist?

Have problems been properly identified?

Are the proposed solutions being monitored and evaluated?

Active, pragmatic leaders who are able and willing to negotiate and compromise in the best interests of girls' education both facilitate and lead the way to improvements in girls' education. Women's strong leadership is particularly important. Leadership takes many forms; some are strong advocates, other quiet reformers. Regardless, the examples of leaders, in government, religion, civil society, NGOs, education, and the law, for example, provide extraordinary legitimacy for girls' education.
The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) is one example of an organizational network that captures the synergy of ideas, the influence, and the power of women leaders working to promote the best interests of girls' education. Five African women Ministers of Education founded the Federation of African Women Educationalists (FAWE) in 1992. The organization now has 30 full members (serving Ministers or Vice Chancellors), 30 associate members (former Ministers or Vice Chancellors) and 28 male associate members (male Ministers of Education). To facilitate national and grassroots work, national chapters, at various stages of development, are present in more than 30 countries. FAWE has pressed forward on an agenda of policy change and advocacy; it also has a programme that gives awards for innovation.
In addition to leadership at international, national and district levels, the leadership of pupils, parents, teachers, community members, school management and administration is also essential to the improvement of girls' education. Linked as girls' education is with established patterns of discrimination against women and girls, leaders at all levels need to work to mobilize the entire range of stakeholders around the key educational issues for girls. These stakeholders will together help form a new set of standards and values which affirm that girls' have the right to basic education, and that the community has an obligation to provide it in an environment that is supportive and enabling. Time and again utilising stakeholders, especially the community, to analyse the situation and intervene in girls' education has proved very fruitful in expanding educational opportunities for girls.
Supportive Fora
Conferences, workshops, newsletters and networks that promote girls' education provide the supportive fora necessary to keep the issues alive and visible to the public eye. These media also facilitate the sharing of new research and experiences, whether successes or failures. One example of this is Zimbabwe's "The New Generation" newsletter that targets schools and equal opportunities for males and females and reaches more than one-third of all primary and secondary schools. Zimbabwe also held gender sensitisation workshops throughout the country for 1200 school heads and 840 members of school development committees and associations.
In addition to the international conferences described above, regional, national, and local conferences and workshops also push forward the agenda for girls' education. In August 1999 UNICEF's South Asia Regional Office facilitated a strategy meeting on gender and violence against women and girls. Over 50 participants from the region attended. The event took them in clear directions for redesigning their work. One result from a follow-up meeting was the Indian government's commitment to continue to continue support for girl's education and activities to reduce maternal mortality.
Continuing to raise awareness about girls' education is central to sustaining its impact. Gender sensitisation cannot be viewed as a one-time workshop event. Deepening individual, collective, and institutional awareness of girls' issues requires long-term, thoughtful analysis and reflection. Policies and programmes need to emphasise ongoing awareness education on girls' education at all levels. This is especially important for key actors in gender and education issues to ensure that they understand and can communicate the rationale of girls' education. Programme activities need to ensure a gender perspective that points out the need to integrate gender analysis into the beginning stages of programme development. This will help to increase knowledge and to change attitudes, practices, and behaviour towards girls' education at all levels.
New Partnerships
The only way in which all five of these key areas (political will, leadership, supportive fora, systemic approach, research and reliable data) have been adequately pulled together in a coherent way that facilitates the kinds of change necessary to get all girls into a basic education of good quality is through extended and expanded partnerships. These new and creative partnerships that have brought the necessary dynamism into education systems, defined broadly, and enabled them to expand and reach out to include girls. In the 1990s partnerships developed between unlikely entities: corporations, non-governmental organisations, communities, teacher organisations, governments, students, and international organisations. Partners have sometimes had to evolve new modes of functioning together but this has promoted innovation.


Three examples of on-going partnerships in support of girls' education help illustrate the kind of innovation that has emerged in this area:

The Partnership for Strategic Resource Planning is a joint programme of FAWE, the Association for Development of Education in Africa , the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank, the Governments of Ireland and Norway, the Rockefeller Foundation and USAID. In collaboration with nine African governments its objective is to build capacity to plan and utilise resources efficiently to help meet EFA goals, particular in narrowing the gender gap.

The UNICEF/World Bank Program under the Bank's Development Grant Facility provides a grant that allows UNICEF to pilot small-scale innovative education initiatives, particularly in African and South Asian countries.

The Multi-Agency Partnership on Sustainable Strategies for Girls' Education is a partnership including the World Bank, the British Department for International Development, the Rockefeller Foundation and UNICEF in an exploration of how to achieve more effective implementation of girls' education programmes in developing countries.

Source: World Bank: The World Bank and Girls' Education.

Developing partnerships across sectors is helping to remove obstacles to girls' education. Water, hygiene, and sanitation, income generating activities, health and nutrition services, and integrating lifeskills education into school curricula (including HIV/AIDS prevention education) are some of the areas being linked to girls' education programmes. For example, in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Benin education is linked with income generating projects. South Africa and Burkina Faso have created links with early childhood care and development programmes. Cape Verde and Ethiopia have integrated water and sanitation project activities, both important considerations for attracting pupils to and keeping them in school.
The African Girls' Education Initiative (AGEI) is an innovative partnership between UNICEF and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with CIDA that evolved during the last half of the decade. A comprehensive, integrated structure that links national, regional, and global systems supports the AGEI. Programme implementation combines seven strategies, which operate concurrently at the various levels: (1) ongoing support for Country Programmes of Cooperation; (2) advocacy; (3) partnership; (4) communication; (5) knowledge building; (6) support to NGOs; and (7) resource mobilisation.
The multi-country programme was designed to implement a distinct and coherent vision for achieving change in girls' education in over 20 African countries. In taking a programme approach rather than a project approach, funds are channelled to country-specific girls' education programmes at the national level. Partners associated with national institutions, ministries, NGOs, communities, and individuals formulate and implement the activities that reflect contextual needs and interests. The programme has enabled 6300 girls in Chad to enrol in school for the first time, increasing the enrolment rate from 65 percent in 1997 to 70 percent in 1998 in the 8 sous-prefectures involved. In Swaziland, teachers have been trained in continuous assessment to improve the quality of education programmes. At regional levels, an especially successful dimension of the work has been the development of regional technical assessment teams that build regional and national capacity in monitoring and evaluation (M&E). And, at the global level, UNICEF's Education Section plays a key role in developing programme policy and coordinating programme advocacy, communication strategies, and other areas.
Systemic Approach
A long-term, coherent approach, incorporating all aspects of the education system and beyond, is the best option for making a difference. It is clear that to address issues of quality, equivalence, and demand in ways that can be sustained, it is essential to take a systemic approach to reforms so that girls are no longer excluded. Guinea, collaborating with donor partners, took this approach to education reform in the 1990s.

Guinea-Conakry: Building on Success

Early in the 1990s, following years of educational decline, Guinea identified girls' education as a national priority. Over the past 8 years, Guinea has achieved an annual increase for primary school enrolment of around 16% for girls and 10% for boys. For the first time ever, the gap in Grade 1 admissions has almost completely disappeared in one region of the country.

The country began by carefully assessing the challenges in girls' education with donor partners and then formulated remedial policies. Several major studies of girls' schooling issues were conducted that included careful analysis of the gender implications of new education investments. Key policy changes supported the initiative. Girls who had become pregnant were no longer barred by regulations from returning to school. All new schools were required to have latrines, since the lack of latrines contributes significantly to girls' absence and dropout from school. Guinea shored up these changes with a national information campaign that stressed the value and importance of girls' education.

Guinea has worked hard to improve the quality and relevance of schooling. In the past, girls, in contrast to boys, had very limited access to textbooks. Now free textbooks are distributed on a regular basis to all students. Efforts have also been made to upgrade the quality of teaching force and increase the number of women teachers. This has been a particular challenge; as qualification requirements for new teacher candidates were increased, the pool of eligible female candidates dropped sharply from 25% to 15% of applicants. Despite this, the government has managed to steadily increase the number of women teachers. Guinea has also broken new ground in pushing efforts to improve students' basic health and readiness to learn. School children have been treated for helminth infections and provided with iron and iodine supplements. These health measures especially benefit female students.

Source: World Bank: World Bank and Girls' Education

Overall, it is clear that to overcome gender bias and discrimination it is essential to change education systems rather than to work on the margins. This has been an extremely positive lesson learned in girls' education. This approach has shown that quality and access are inextricably linked. Thus, many actions in support of girls' education have addressed quality, resulting in demonstrable improvements for boys as well as for girls. In fact, in some cases quality improvements for girls' education have actually increased the gender gap!

A review of a decade of USAID work in girls' education around the world concluded that in order to make a difference, strategies are needed that will differentially or specifically promote the schooling of girls. These strategies do not stand alone. They are interconnected and mutually reinforcing, they change both characteristics and dynamics of the system and thus contribute to systemic change.

Locating schools near girls

Staffing schools with female teachers

Girl-friendly regulations

Strengthening community ownership and participation

Reducing schooling costs.

Locating schools near girls addresses concerns about girls' safety and their availability for domestic chores. This also brings the community closer to schools and makes it possible for them to support the schools--as well as their daughters--in various ways. Staffing schools with female teachers also addresses safety issues and can provide girls with role models of a career they can pursue through their own education. Marshalling the political will at all levels to leverage resources that will support these strategies will move the agenda of girls' education forward dramatically.
Increasing the proportion of women teachers, which often means staffing a school with at least one female teacher, has two main effects on girls' schooling. First, the presence of women teachers helps to promote the perception of a safer and more protected school environment for girls. Second, women teachers provide visible, immediate role models of educated women for girls attending school.
Increasing the proportion of female teachers in primary schools has a positive impact on female enrolments, as Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and other countries have seen. In order to augment their numbers, however, recruitment policies for teachers may need to be revised. Some options include reserving a proportion of places in teacher training colleges for girls; decentralising recruitment of local females, and revising administrative policies that affect serving female teachers. Systematic assessment of the impact of these policies would be useful information for designing future initiatives. In countries such as Afghanistan where extreme fundamentalist religious policies have pushed girls out of school, creative alternatives are needed. In Afghanistan UNICEF informally supports unemployed female teachers who have set up schools in their homes where up to 60 percent of the students are female.
While the teaching force in some countries--especially in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa--are dominated by male teachers, countries in Central Europe, Latin America, and other areas report a predominantly female teaching force. The latter case may represent inequity and lower pay for women teachers, especially at the primary level, and must be addressed. In either scenario the concern is expressed that children should see and have teachers of their same sex as role models. However, to date there is no evidence of parents forbidding sons to enrol in coeducational schools with all women teachers, whereas parents do keep their daughters out of school if no female teachers are present. Perceptions and reassurances of safety are critical for girls, and the presence of women teachers in a male-dominated teaching force--women teachers who value girls and boys equally--must take high priority.
Enforcing girl-friendly regulations ensure that schools are safe, respectful places for girls. Policies made at the national level, regulations for an entire school, and teacher-made rules for a classroom can all contribute to a school that is friendly to girls. Regulations might include returning girls to their rightful place in school following a pregnancy, constructing adequate latrine facilities for males and females, appointing girls to school leadership positions, or dismissing male teachers or students who have sexually harassed female students. These regulations and their enforcement are necessary to make a difference in the lives and academic experiences of girls. The safety and security of girls was a major theme in the African Conference on the Empowerment of Women through Functional Literacy and Education, and needs to continue as a major theme in education plans of the next decade.
Strengthening Community Ownership and Participation. Community and family empowerment and participation in school management and other activities are key to ensuring that girls enrol, attend, and stay in school. Family and community participation contribute to the processes of decentralisation and the institutionalisation of community involvement in education. This, in turn, increases programme/project quality and sustainability. For example, in the family a mother's support of her daughter's education is a key factor in girl attending and staying in school. In disadvantaged communities, members have contributed significantly to girls' education by providing school funds; management; and land, time, and labour for constructing schools and classrooms.
Community ownership of schools, (management, control, financing and organisation) is an important building block in promoting the educational participation of girls, particularly among populations that have traditionally had low female participation rates. Raising community awareness and responsibility for addressing some of the barriers to education has had impressive results in places like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Mali. Discussions of community involvement is not a panacea, however; communities must be empowered in deed. Adequate human, financial and administrative resources are needed to enable communities to fulfil their roles, as is a clear division of responsibility between communities and local and central governments.
Once communities are empowered to create and manage schools near their homes, with teachers they can trust and a curriculum they believe in, resistance to sending girls to school and keeping them there past puberty appears to melt away.
Cost Reduction. In 1991/2 Malawi, with the support of USAID, introduced tuition waivers for non-repeating girls in primary school. Although the sums involved were small, about US$5 a year per child in rural areas and US$9 in urban areas, the waivers made a big difference. The money lost through fees was made available to the central Ministry of Education as a lump sum grant from USAID.
Malawi had historically experienced a persistent gender gap to the advantage of boys. The year the waivers were introduced, girls were a majority in Standard 1 (51 percent) and girls' net enrolment in primary was 60 percent compared to boys at 57 percent. Two years later, the government introduced free primary education for all and abolished the requirement that school children wear uniforms. The response from boys restored the gender gap, but levels of enrolment for both genders has risen tremendously and Malawi is now close to universal primary enrolment.
Benin introduced a bill that exempted girls in rural areas from paying school fees in 1993. While this is reported to have improved girls' enrolment rates in rural areas, there was also some negative impact since no revenue was available from other sources to replace the lost funds. An unequivocal benefit of any cost reduction initiative, however, is that lowered schooling costs can eliminate the necessity of parents having to choose which child, if any, will go to school.
The six lessons discussed above provide an important framework for the fundamental aspect of systemic change: what goes on in the classroom.
Child-friendly learning environment. The quality of education can be improved for all children and sustained over time through the creation of a child-friendly learning environment for girls and boys. This includes using participatory teaching and learning strategies, and making use of locally available resources/materials. Programmes in South Asia are placing priority on the quality of education with programs implementing concepts such as Multiple Ways of Teaching Learning, joyful learning, and child friendly schools. Over 16,000 schools in Bangladesh are implementing the Bangladeshi Directorate of Primary Education's Intensive District Approach to Education for All (IDEAL). In 1999 IDEAL worked to build local level management and planning, launch a communication campaign, monitor school quality, conduct studies and adjust the curriculum to be gender sensitive. The formative evaluation has revealed that local level planning has mobilised local funds to provide an average of US $500 per school. In addition, teachers trained in Multiple Ways of Teaching Learning (MWTL) have shown that using a number of teaching methods (group work, role-playing, singing) is positive and effective.
Once in school, girls and boys need to learn something meaningful. Issues of learning and achievement are complex but essential to address. They include the content of the curriculum and the capacity of the school system to implement it; the teaching processes and methods used to convey this content; strategies for assessing learning gains and achievement, whether through continuous assessment or final examinations; and concomitant implications for training and recruitment into the teaching service.
These issues are being addressed within a wider socio-political context that often contributes to the emergence of workable solutions. With a global push towards democracy and the encouragement towards greater decentralization of political power with the implicit emergence of greater local autonomy and accountability, getting more girls to school no longer seems an intractable problem. As the officers at the community level with the greatest knowledge of the barriers are now increasingly being granted the authority to address them, remarkable innovative solutions evolve almost routinely. In sub-Saharan Africa, a number of government sponsored alternative education programmes (COPE in Uganda, PAGE in Zambia and Dina schools in Madagascar) are providing basic education outside the formal system in a manner that recognizes and accommodates local realities. The Bangladesh Rural Action Committee (BRAC) remains one of the most remarkable efforts in successfully providing schooling opportunities for girls outside the formal school system.
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