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  Action plan to reduce gender disparities
By Leila Loupis,
    Gender disparities in education was one of the major concerns of the 1990 Jomtien conference, and many African governments and organisations have addressed this issue. The Association of Female Educators of Gabon (A.F.E.G.) is an assembly of Gabon's women teachers with the important mission is to guide and support young girls. The association's honorary president is Mrs Paulette Missambo, State Minister in charge of National Education and the Status of Women.
    In 1996, the result of research carried out by A.F.E.G. brought to light the existence of failure, wastage and other difficulties in girl's education. The study revealed that the problems were related not to the level of access to education for girls, but more to the level of schooling attained: at primary level, the enrolment ratio for girls was 89%, but by the end of the secondary cycle, it had dropped to only 7,20%. In other words, faced with problems related to the image of women, early pregnancy, the obligation of household tasks, and girl's vulnerability in general, girls had difficulties in continuing and completing their studies.
  Awareness key to eliminating the gender gap
    Confronted with these facts, the A.F.E.G. took action towards supporting girls' education, with the support of FAWE (Forum for African Women Educationalists). These included:
Publication in 1997 of a brochure for parents on how to supervise their child's education, especially for the supervision and accompaniment of girls;
Negotiation with the Ministry of Education to make classrooms available for evening tutoring of girls by women teachers, especially for girls whose parents are illiterate;
Sensitisation of parents and especially of fathers so that they will help support their daughters' education. Traditionally, it is the mother who assists children with their homework, but the higher the level of education the girls attain, the more help they need at a more advanced stage, and thus it is the father who should assist. Likewise, the mobilisation of parents so that they are interested not only in the results but also in the process of learning of their children;
Creating crèches for women in difficulty in their neighbourhood.

  The association aims especially to raise people's awareness of this important question. "This is necessary since during the greater part of its history, Gabon did not particularly suffer from gender disparities in education. It is only with the economic crisis and the evolution of society's customs that the disparity between women and men has increased." states Ms Blandine Mefane, EFA Coordinator in Gabon.

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