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The news magazine about the education of girls and women in Afri c a
Volume 8 Number 3 July - September 2000
About FAWE
The Forum for African Women Educationalists is a non-government organization registered in Kenya in 1993. The
Forum has 27 full members who are
African women ministers of education
and women vice chancellors of universities, 36 associate members comprising
male ministers of education and permanent secretaries and former full
members of the Forum, as well as
National Chapters in 31 African countries.
FAWE’s Vision
It is FAWE’s vision that by the year 2004
gender disparities in education will be
significantly reduced, and more girls will
have access to schooling, complete
their studies and perform well at all levels.
FAWE’s Mission Statement
FAWE will work at continental, national
and local levels, together with its partners, to create positive societal attitudes to reinforce policies and practices that promote equity for girls in
terms of access, retention, per formance and quality, through influencing the transformation of educational
systems in Africa.
FAWE’s Goals
Overall Goal
• To increase access and retention as
well as improve the quality of education for all girls within the school
system, and women in universities.
Strategic Objectives
FAWE will undertake the following
strategic objectives for the years 20002004:
• To influence the formulation and
adoption of educational policies on
girls’ education in order to increase
access and improve retention and
• To build public awareness and concensus on the social and economic
advantages of girls’ education
through advocacy.
• To undertake and support experimental and innovative demonstration programmes to increase girls’
participation in education.
• To empower girls through education
for effective participation in the creation of an equitable society.
• To create and sustain partnerships
with governments, donors, universities, NGOs, communities and other
partners in education for effective
implementation of programmes to
improve girls’ education.
• To strengthen its own organizational
capacity to effectively implement
programmes that promote girls’
Volume 8 Number 3 July-Sept. 2000
The Gender Gap in
Education in Sub-Saharan
Africa - Status and Trends
7 What are the Issues behind
the Increasing Rates of
Dropping out of School by
Young People in
Sub-Saharan Africa?
8 Focus on Poverty
11 What can we do to Fight
Poverty and therefore curb
Dropout among Girls
16 Adolescent Sexuality and
21 Sexual Harassment - A
Major Hinderance to
27 The Way Forward
3 Editorial
4 Letters
28 Calendar of Events
FAWE News is published
quarterly by the Forum for African
Women Educationalists (FAWE)
to report on the education of girls
and women across Africa.
The Crew
Editorial Committee
Penina Mlama
Lornah Murage
Makau Ngola
Margaret Crouch
Rose Washika
Art and Design Director
Joab Owiro
12th Floor, International House
Mama Ngina Street
P.O. Box 53168, Nairobi, Kenya
(254) 2 226590
Fax: (254) 2 210709
Email: [email protected]
Website: http//
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FAWE News welcomes letters and
contributions from readers.
ISSN 1026-1990
here is great concern in Africa today that gains made in improving girls’ participation in education in the last two decades
are being eroded by large numbers of girls who are dropping out of schools. Many are dropping out even before
completion of the primary cycle. Those who leave school before mastering basic writing and reading skills frequently relapse into illiteracy and
as future adults add to an already high percentage of illiterate women.
Following the World Education Forum in Dakar in April 2000, most
countries in sub-Saharan Africa renewed their commitment to fight causes
responsible for girls leaving school prematurely.
This issue of FAWE News looks at the problem of wastage in education
under the theme Closing the Gender Gap in Girls’ Education: Curbing
Prof. Penina Mlama
FAWE Executive Director
Dropout. It reviews strategies and promising interventions that various governments and organizations
like FAWE and other agencies are putting in place to combat dropout. There is special focus on poverty, the major underlying cause for large numbers of young people, particularly girls, dropping out of
school in sub-Saharan Africa, and also the reason for the widening rural-urban education gap. We
revisit progress made by countries in formulating and implementing policies on teenage pregnancy,
and in particular, re-entry policies for girls who had been forced to leave school due to pregnancy.
Finally, this issue of FAWE News looks at the efforts of a few courageous institutions in sub-Saharan
Africa, who are starting to do something about sexual harassment in their midst, even as this insidious
monster continues to spread its tentacles across the whole educational setup, from lower primary
schools to universities.
We hope that this issue will spark action
on your part to start doing something
about this problem of girls dropping out
of school prematurely.
“It has to be acknowledged indeed that we
are still a far cry from basic Education for
All, that it is still but a distant dream for
hundreds of millions of children, women
and men”
KoГЇchiro Matsura
Director General, UNESCO, at the World Education
Forum, April 2000, Dakar Senegal
My Teacher
There was a teacher whom
I may say that he was not
a good teacher. One day
this teacher called me and
told me to go and mop the
office. I didn’t refuse to do
what he told me. I went,
collected water and started mopping. When I was
still doing the work he
arrived and asked me a
question that was very difficult to answer. I went and
told my friends about the
question he asked me and
my friend advised me not
to listen to him any more.
One day when I looked
back and saw him I ran
away and reached a
group of women and we
walked together. When he
saw that I was in a group of
old people he went back.
When I reached home I
told my mother about what
the teacher had told me
and my mother told me to
report the teacher to the
senior woman. I did so and
the senior woman reported
the man to the headmaster. The headmaster sent
the teacher out of the
school. I am now settled.
Angela Nakintu
Grade 6
Dear FAWE,
I humbly submit this letter through
your Chapter in Uganda.
First I would like FAWE to
prevent further pregnancies in
school completely by sending some
representatives from your offices to
schools in Uganda to teach them the
side effects of early pregnancies.
Secondly, I would like you
to give advice to male teachers and
boys to stop raping, defiling and
befriending girls in school with an
aim of ruining their future. Further
more I would like you to stop teachers giving girls corporal punishment
and hard tasks and let them give
appropriate punishment.
To add on that, I would like
you to make sure that both sexes get
equal education.
Lastly I would like you to
give solutions to problems affecting
girls’ education in Uganda not only
that but also to give guidance and
I will be grateful if my information is put into consideration.
Nuku Hawa
Dear FAWE,
I am dissatisfied with the way our
education system is countrywide as
regards to the education of the girl
child. The traditional gender roles
which expects the girl child to perform most domestic chores e.g.
cooking, washing and fetching firewood.
I am interested in writing
articles for your newsletters, books
and other materials. I wish you all
the best in the work you are doing
to help girls and women further
their education.
Joyce Okawro
Chakol Girls High School
Busia, Kenya
Dear FAWE,
I am a girl aged 15 from a family of
four girls and one boy.
While at school, I met a girl
who after a short time became my
friend. We used to share our experiences and she once told me that
she is a member of an organization
which sends her magazines that
help her to know much about her
rights as a girl. I got very much
interested and asked her if I could
read the magazine myself and know
more about it. I got more interested that I felt that it would be good
if I could join the organization.
I asked the girl what I can
do to get in contact with you and
she, Magdeline Wambui Waweru,
advised me to write this letter.
In our area, Molo, there is
great discrimination of girls. Most
parents educate their sons more
than they educate their daughters.
Boys are educated to the highest
possible level while most girls are
only educated upto standard eight.
With help from you, I think I can
be able to approach such parents to
make them know that even girls
have equal rights as boys. I also
want them to know that educating
a girl is like educating a whole community.
I will be happy to see my
area improving and stoping to
despise girls because many of them
end up being prostitutes or being
married at a very early age and living bad and unpleasant lives.
I will be sharing with you
how our area is improving and how
I have helped other girls, especially
school leavers.
Wanjugu C. Margaret
Jomo Kenyatta High School
Nakuru, Kenya
Millions Are Missing!
ccess to a good quality
education is acknowledged as a basic human
right. Nevertheless, while enrolment rates have increased globally
over the last three decades, in the
developing world today:
• More than 130 million 6–11year-olds are out of school.
Some 81 million (60 percent)
of them are girls!
• More than 273 million 12–17year-olds are out of school, 148
million (54 percent) of whom
are girls!
• Of the 100 million children
who drop out of school before
completing four years, twothirds are girls.
The gender gap is widest in the
poorest countries, the majority of
which are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Explanations for this human
tragedy abound: Tuition and other
In many Sub-Saharan schools are inadequately equipped, and curricula biased
and irrelevant.
fees are beyond the means of the
majority of families. Adolescent
pregnancy and childbearing, which
take girls out of school, are on the
rise. Traditional beliefs about girls’
and women’s roles discourage
investment in their education.
Moreover, teachers are often poorFigure 1
ly trained, schools inadequately
equipped, and curricula biased and
irrelevant. And in some cultures,
the lack of separate facilities, the
Tuition and other
fees are beyond the
means of the majority
of families.
Adolescent pregnancy
and childbearing,
which take girls out
of school, are on the
long distances to school and the
predominantly male teaching staff
constitute major barriers to girls
participation in education.
Poverty a major obstacle to keeping children in school.
Dropping Out: Wasted
Compared with other regions of
the world, sub-Saharan Africa is
doing poorly in retention of children in schools. Except in a few
countries like Seychelles—with
Mauritius following very closely—
dropout and repetition rates are
high especially among girls beginning at the primary level and continuing through secondary schools
to universities and colleges. Only
67 percent of the children who
enter the first grade of primary
school eventually reach grade five,
which means that a full third drop
out along the way!
Dropping out and repeating
grades exact a terrible personal toll
on the pupils involved and absorb
a large share of the limited
resources available for education. It
is estimated that countries in subSaharan Africa spend US Dollars
18,800 million per year on education and US Dollars 16,167 million (32.8 per cent) is spent on
wastage before grade five. (1995 6
in rural and urban areas in almost
all countries in sub-Saharan Africa
(Figure 2). Urban institutions
enjoy better teachers and more
resources and facilities than do
rural institutions.
These in turn give rise to disparities in rates of pupils’ enrolment, participation and performance. In countries like Ghana,
Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania and
Kenya, where bold initiatives have
been used to improve schooling
throughout the country, attendance in primary schools in rural
EFA Forum Secretariat,
UNESCO). This is the highest
wastage in all less developing
regions of the world.
The Urban–Rural Gap
There is a distinct disparity
between the quality of education
Figure 2
areas is lower than urban areas by
about 19 percent or less. In countries like Niger and Burkina Faso,
attendance is lower by nearly 50
Women’s Illiteracy
The combined effects of continuing low enrolment, high repetition
and dropout among girls in subSaharan Africa have undermined
and frustrated efforts to eradicate
adult literacy, particularly among
women. According to UNICEF's
State of the World Children –
2000, some 16 of the 22 countries
with 70 percent or more illiterate
women are found in sub-Saharan
Africa. In two of these, over 90
Paralyzing Effects of Poverty
he average person in nearly every sub-Saharan
African country is poorer
today than they were a decade ago.
Most countries are in deep financial crises manifested in: mass
retrenchments, collapse of businesses, unprecedented unemployment, rising costs of food, education, health services, power,
water—the list is endless.
According to World Bank
reports, the rates of economic
growth in most countries in subSaharan Africa are stagnant or
declining. The annual per capita
gross national product (GNP)
growth in the region up to the
early 1980s was 2.8 percent. By
mid 1990s, it had plummeted to
–0.1 percent. For many countries
the capacity to manage the education sector is increasingly under
threat. Rising levels of poverty
have reduced families’ abilities to
provide for the basic needs of their
children. This is reflected in growing rates of school dropout particularly among girls.
AIDS – The Aggressive Invader
oday in sub-Saharan Africa,
home to the 21 countries
with the highest HIV prevalence,
HIV/AIDS disproportionately
affects the young, the poor and the
powerless—girls and women in
particular. In this region alone we
• More than 80 percent of the
world's HIV/AIDS-infected
87 percent of the world's
HIV/AIDS-infected children
95 percent of the world’s AIDS
Figure 3
The majority of the orphans
are left with no hope for education. Resources that could have
been used for their education go
to caring for the sick. Girls, more
than boys, are likely to drop out of
school to care for the sick or to
bring up orphaned siblings. Or
they end up as prostitutes out of
despair. HIV/AIDS threaten to
undo much of what has been
accomplished in education in the
last several decades. (Fig. 3 AIDS
alone, mostly within countries.
These created more than 8 million
refugees or displaced persons. In
1998 alone, an estimated 200,000
Africans, most of them women
and children, died as a result of
war and conflict. Thousands of
others were maimed and remain
psychologically scarred by what
they endured or witnessed. Like
the ravages of poverty, today’s conflicts threaten many of the
achievements in education that
people have laboured long decades
to attain. Insecurity, destruction of
infrastructure, displacement of
people, among others, cut short
the education careers of many
pupils, particularly girls.
Do We Give Up?
o! Poverty, conflict, disease,
pregnancy or gender discrimination are all challenges that
can be confronted and conquered,
no matter how entrenched they
may appear. The important thing
is to direct efforts towards those
points with the greatest potential
for change and impact. Several
efforts are underway in various
countries aimed at confronting
these challenges. FAWE, as a panAfrican NGO, is at the forefront
of these efforts contributing to
designing and formulating strategies to reduce the effects of these
factors on girls’ participation in
Today’s Conflicts – Arenas of
Flagrant Atrocities
n the last three decades, over 30
wars have gone on in Africa
A Major Obstacle to Girls’
overty, in the new millennium, continues to be the
single biggest obstacle to
education for both boys and girls
in sub-Saharan Africa. Demand
for education continues to be lowest in areas where poverty is deepest and most widespread—rural
areas and urban slums. The relatively new concept of cost-sharing,
fuelled by the unrelenting economic crisis in Africa and structural adjustment programmes (SAPs),
and now compounded by challenges and threats such as
HIV/AIDS and widespread conflicts and war, mean that already
impoverished households have to
dig deeper into their pockets to
pay more for their children’s education. Even where tuition fees are
not charged, other levies and
expenses such as registration and
examination fees, building funds,
book costs, uniforms, etc., push
schooling out of reach for a significant number of children.
In some countries it is estimated
that parents are responsible for
over 70 percent of the cost of their
children’s education in government
schools. The result, depending on
the economic abilities of different
communities, is wide variation in
schools’ resources and facilities,
which in turn gives rise to disparities in student participation and
performance. Where poverty is
especially wrenching, as in rural
areas, the disparities are great.
Furthermore, the economic
pressures facing African governments are having a negative impact
on other components of the education sector, including the inspec-
Young people who drop out of school before acquiring the basic skills of
reading, writing and numeracy may lapse back into illiteracy. In urban
areas, these young people are likely to end up in the streets, adding to the
problems of delinquency and crime. Street girls are at risk of getting sexually molested, contracting diseases and bearing children they are
unequipped to look after. Their potential contribution to national development is severely undermined.
However, for those who persist in acquiring an education, research has
shown that there are important payoffs:
• Basic education is critical for economic growth and poverty reduction.
• Educating girls reduces the number of mothers who die during childbirth. In South Africa, where female enrolment rates are low, maternal
mortality rates are about 10 times greater than in East Asia, where
many more girls go to school.
• Educating girls reduces the number of children who die. Evidence
from 13 developing countries shows that a 10 percent increase in
female literacy helps lead to a 10 percent reduction in child mortality.
• Educating girls reduces fertility rates. Studies show that an additional
year of women’s schooling can reduce female fertility rates by 5–10
• Educating girls improves family health. Recent research shows that
there is a strong correlation between low school enrolment rates for
girls and high rates of HIV/AIDS.
• Educating girls increases the education of their children and their children’s children. The benefits of girls’ education pass from generation
to generation.
• Educated mothers are better able to prepare their children to be successful in school and in the labour market.
• Educating girls has important environmental benefits. Several World
Development Reports conclude that investment in female education is
one of the highest return investments in environmental protection
that a developing country can make.
• Educating girls help growth. Girls' primary school enrolment rates
have strong positive effects on GNP per capita.
• Educating girls increases productivity. A study of maize farming in
Kenya found that an additional year of education for women
increased production by over 20 percent.
Source: Girls’ Education (1999), World Bank
torate, curriculum development,
examination, teacher training and
in-service programmes and
salaries. There is a deterioration of
education quality particularly in
rural areas due to non-inspection
of schools and services, low
teacher morale, and rampant
cheating in examinations and
grading. All these have negative
effects on student participation
and performance, especially for
Why do girls continue to bear
the brunt of household’s eco nomic difficulties even where
there has been a dramatic
increase in awareness of the
benefits of girls’ education?
With the crippling poverty, the
rural poor and urban slum
dwellers find it increasingly difficult to wait for the long-term benefits of investing in their children’s
education. They say they need
help and need it now and therefore see the contributions of everyone in the family including the
children as indispensable to the
survival of the household. The
opportunity cost of educating girls
in sub-Saharan Africa remains
higher than that of educating
Poverty Disillusions Parents
As poverty continues to bite,
unemployment, mass retrenchments, young people dying of
AIDS, increasing crime among
Some organization reduce the number of drop-outs by taking some form of
education to the homes of those who cannot get themselves to schools.
adolescents have all become common features in poor rural and
urban communities alike. At the
same time, parents see hordes of
school dropouts, both male and
female, engaged in all manners of
low paying jobs—hawkers, factory
labourers, domestic servants, market porters, car wash boys, drivers
and conductors of public service
vehicles, garbage collectors—and
all are at least able to feed themselves and send something to their
rural folk. Such parents start to
wonder whether it does not make
more economic sense for their
children to be engaged in one of
these low-paying jobs than to continue with an education they can
hardly afford and whose lauded
benefits have become so elusive?
For these people, it is crucial to
rekindle their faith in the importance of education. This can only
happen if measures to reduce
poverty are seriously considered.
This will call for concerted government efforts to foster economic
growth that benefits the poor.
Poverty Puts a Price Tag on
Although research in the last three
decades has established the value
of educating girls, in most of rural
sub-Saharan Africa, girls are still
viewed as an important source of
family income. Institutions like
bride price, polygamy, motherhood and fines for adultery make
the economic value of girls, particularly in rural areas, remain high.
As poverty increases, this value
takes on a significant meaning,
particularly as girls' approach
puberty. In such an environment,
expected additional household
income often takes priority over
education of the girl (Figure 4).
Poverty Widens the RuralUrban Education Gap
Demand for education in subSaharan Africa continues to be
lowest in rural areas where poverty
is more endemic and widespread
most countries.
because of inconsistency in their
Their school
performance as a result of haphazattendance is freard attendance or starting school
quently interlate. At the level of technical colrupted by temleges and tertiary institutions,
porary suspenmany students from poor homes
sion for non-payare responsible for their own edument of fees or
cational costs. For girls, this opens
punishment for
them to threats of sexual exploitaarriving to school
tion with risks of pregnancy and
late or being in
tattered uniform.
These hardships
Poverty Saps Teachers'
discourage the
students, who lag
Teachers’ qualifications, experibehind in their
ence, competence and attitudes
academic work
play a critical role in shaping the
and are made to
process of teaching and learning.
repeat or drop
Findings from various studies have
Keeping girls, and boys, in school remains a complex
out of school.
shown that schools in rural areas
process because the reasons for dropout are many and
More pupils in
lack the full complement of qualiinvolve both the demand for and supply of school places. rural schools
fied teaching staff. Inadequacy in
than urban
and where opportunities for
schools are made to repeat grades
Continued on page 12
income generation are limited.
Extra Coaching
Students in rural areas, have a
FEMSA studies in Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon and Ghana have
great deal to contend with. Often
found a high correlation between high scores in subjects like maths and
they must travel long distances to
science and going for extra tuition after school. Children in rural areas
school. They may lack essential
hardly ever go for extra coaching because of the expense involved and
textbooks and basic learning
household chores that do not allow time for the extra coaching. There is
equipment. They cannot afford to
also parents' fear for the safety of their children, especially daughters,
participate in costly extra-curricubecause
coaching is normally conducted in teachers’ homes in the
lar activities including extra coachevening and on weekends and the majority of the tutors are male.
ing that has become so popular in
Source: FEMSA Dissemination Report No. 13. Students Attitudes to Learning SMT
Figure 4. Differences by mean score between urban and rural areas in 10 African countries
Life skills
Botswana Madagascar Malawi
Morocco Mauritius Niger
Tunisia Uganda
Writing/reading 4
Source: EFA, Status and Trends 2000, Assessing Learning Achievements
actors shown to be responsible for girls dropping out of
schools are complex and
interrelated and stem from the
home, the school, the community
and from governmental levels.
Therefore, strategies or interventions designed to fight poverty will
only be of benefit if all these levels
of stakeholders are sufficiently sensitized to appreciate the advantages
of keeping girls in school and are
therefore ready to exercise their
respective roles. For example, giving bursaries to girls from poor
homes will be of little benefit, if
the only schools available are far
from home and there are therefore
fears of insecurity; or if the girls
are expected to remain at home to
look after their siblings; or if the
practices in their community call
for early marriage and motherhood; or if the girls themselves are
not sufficiently assertive to insist
on their rights to continue with an
education of their choice. To be
able to curb dropping out of girls
from schools therefore, it is important to involve policy makers,
NGOs, schools, community, parents and the young people themselves.
As National Governments, we
• Foster economic growth that
benefits the poor (see extract
from World Development
Report-2000 Attacking Poverty)
• Lower the direct cost of
schooling by establishing bur-
sary schemes, waiving or
reducing fees for girls and supplying textbooks (see Tanzania
case study on page 13)
Lower the opportunity cost of
schooling by establishing flexible school hours, having childcare facilities near the schools,
development of time and energy saving devices
Strive to eliminate all forms of
gender discrimination from all
learning situations, including
curriculum, textbooks, classroom interactions, use of space
and use of all resources (see
ABC of Gender Analysis on page 13)
Expand access and bring
schools closer to communities.
Establishment of satellite
schools and use of multigrade
and double shift classes has
improved access in rural areas.
Increase and improve boarding
facilities for girls especially at
post primary levels (see advan tages of boarding schools page 15)
Increase the proportion of government public expenditure
allocated to education. This,
however, must be accompanied
by a serious commitment on
the part of government and all
other stakeholders to promote
and support girls education,
otherwise it will not produce
the desired impact on access
and retention. For instance,
Zimbabwe, Malawi and
Ethiopia by 1998 were spending over 50 percent of their
public current expenditure on
primary education. Whereas
Zimbabwe and Malawi registered close to 100 percent
enrolment in primary schools,
in Ethiopia, only a third of its
primary school age children
were in school, with the ratio
of girls being even lower (EFA
Status and Trends: Wasted
Opportunities, UNESCO
• Provide culturally appropriate
facilities. Schools must conform to the communities’ cultural standards. For example,
in parts of North Africa and
Africa’s Sahelian Region, girls’
performance improve if they
can attend single-sex schools.
• Increase the pool of female
teachers especially in those
rural and traditional communities where girls, after puberty,
are prohibited to be in contact
with males until after marriage.
Recruitment procedures that
give priority to females in a
community, offer incentives
such as housing, training,
transport allowance and other
stipends can be used to
increase the pool of female
teachers in girls’ schools.
As Schools, we must:
• Encourage girls to participate
fully in classroom and school
activities. Prevent any form of
sexual harassment or use of
words, gestures or actions that
demean their dignity. Girls are
more motivated to learn and to
persist in education if they are
treated well, given leadership
Continued from page 11
roles and responsibilities and if
the teaching methods are of
high quality and of relevance
to them
• Look after the welfare of teachers by paying attention to their
needs such as professional
development programmes, job
advancement, proper working
hours, provision of health programmes, regularity in paying
salaries, etc. These go a long
way in boosting teacher morale
and improving interaction with
pupils and therefore their
retention in school.
• Institute empowerment programmes for girls to help them
build up confidence, enhance
their self-esteem and assertiveContinued from page 10
numbers and training is compounded by rampant absenteeism
and lack of motivation by those
around. Some teachers leave their
classrooms to engage in other
income-generating activities to
supplement their poor and irregularly paid salaries. Ill health and
eventual death from HIV/AIDS is
decimating the teaching force in
many areas. In one study in
Ghana, pupils revealed that their
teachers regularly used them as
farmhands or labourers for small
pay or as punishment during class
Clearly, significant improvement is
necessary in the overall status and
welfare of teachers in rural schools
in order to boost their morale and
ness. FAWE has instituted a
number of empowerment programmes for girls in collaboration with her national chapters
in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Chad,
The Gambia, Rwanda and
Burkina Faso, which among
other activities, invite African
women achievers to address
them on issues of self development.
As Community, we must:
• Understand and recognize the
rights of the girl child, in particular the right to an education and the right to be protected from threats to her well
being such as early marriage,
sexual molestation and circumcision
reinvigorate their enthusiasm and
commitment toward their work.
Poverty Runs Down Facilities
The physical state of government
schools in a country is a reliable
indicator of the economic wellbeing of that particular country.
With the ongoing economic crisis
in sub-Saharan Africa, many
schools particularly those in rural
areas are in pathetic state. Buildings are run down, there is shortage of furniture, equipment and
learning materials, basic amenities
like water, electricity and sanitation are lacking. Under these circumstances, quality of teaching
and learning drops and the gap in
academic performance between
urban and rural schools continues
to widen.
Ensure the safety of our daughters by collaborating with the
civic and political establishments to provide schools near
As Parents, we must:
• Support our daughters in their
studies by not placing too
much demand on the time
they are required to be in
school or doing their homework. Failure to keep up with
other children in class leads to
frustrations and may lead to
dropping out of school.
• Abandon gender discrimination and outdated traditions
such as circumcision and other
initiation rites that may be
viewed as now giving a girl the
Poverty Keeps Out Role
In rural areas, where transport and
communication are poor, the
school provides the only setting in
which children can meet authority
figures other than their parents
and learn about the world that lies
beyond their local community. For
girls, this is usually the only place
where they see educated women at
work and the only opportunity
they have to learn that the gender
roles existing in their village can
actually be challenged and
changed through a good education. This suggests the importance
of increasing the number of female
teachers in schools in rural areas.
right to start participating in
activities that will lure her from
• Actively take an interest in the
participation and performance
of our daughters in school
which motivates them to work
hard and allow no room for
thoughts of ever wanting to
abandon school.
Attacking poverty
World Development Report 2000
argues that each country must
devise its own poverty reduction
strategy focusing on three sets of
Opportunity: Expanding economic opportunity for poor people by
stimulating economic growth,
making markets work better for
them, and allowing them to
acquire assets such as land and
Empowerment: Strengthening the
participation of poor people in
local decision making that
affects their lives and removing
social barriers that result from distinctions of gender, race, ethnicity and social status.
Security: Reducing poor people’s
vulnerability to sickness, economic shocks, crop failure, natural disasters and violence, and promoting ways for them to cope with
misfortune when it occurs.
Extracted from Commentary on
World Development Report 2000,
by Nicholas Stern, Chief Econo mist, Development Economics,
World Bank
The ABC of gender analysis is simply a gender screen that teachers,
researchers, artists, illustrators and all those in the education sector to
review and analyse text books and other educational materials and
resources for gender responsiveness. It is a module that provides a reliable and simple tool whose application opens the eyes of the user to
gender disparities and discrimination.
The module is the result of an exercise commissioned by FAWE in 1995
which involved analysis of a cross section of textbooks, curricula, extra
curricular activities and school resources from various African countries
by a team of gender specialists.
The ABC of gender analysis operates on the premise that learning material and activities have of necessity to appeal to male and female learners
alike in order to make knowledge equally accessible to both sexes. This
means that resources like textbooks have to be women- and men-friendly by representing and presenting their worlds in such a way that both
can identify closely with the subject matter.
The framework has two interrelated parts:
Part 1 deals with presentation, use of framework and analysis and strategies. The first has to do with the composition of the text, while the second deals with the identification of gender gaps through the use of both
qualitative and quantitative data, leading to the identification of appropriate strategies for bridging the gender gaps.
Part 2 focuses on the school environment. This asks questions about the
physical and human interactions, such as between teachers and pupils of
both sexes and also among themselves. As efforts continue worldwide to
achieve equality of participation in education, the ABC of gender analysis framework has indeed proven a useful tool for understanding the
degree of gender responsiveness of textbooks and other learning material, as well as what one may need to change or raise awareness about in
order that learning materials address the interests of both learners.
For more information on this framework, please contact the
FAWE secretariat.
As FAWE and agencies interested
in education, we must:
• Continue to sensitize the public on the social and economic
benefits of educating girls
• Undertake and support innovative programmes that increase
girls’ participation in education
• Create and sustain environments that encourage different
stakeholders in education to
effectively implement pro-
grammes that promote girls’
• Develop and sustain mechanisms of monitoring policies,
practices and programmes that
influence girls’ education
• Develop and support educational programmes for the
empowerment of girls for effective participation in the social
and economic development of
their nations.
Addressing Poverty through
Bursary Schemes
During the early 1990s findings
from a social sector review conducted in Tanzania revealed that the
level of achievement in the social
sector as a whole had deteriorated.
For example, the gross primary
school enrolment rate, which
should have been well over 100 percent by now if previous improvements had been sustained, dropped
from 93 percent in 1980 to 77.8
percent in 1991’s and to 76.4 percent in 1998. (MOEC, 2000).
This review concluded that
increasing enrolment and improving the quality of schooling at
both the primary and secondary
levels, coupled with increasing
opportunities for girls, are the
highest priority areas for investment to reverse this stagnation in
human capital.
To address this problem, the Girls
Secondary Education Support
(GSES) programme was initiated
in 1996.
The goal of this programme is:
1. To expand educational opportunities for girls from poor families and to improve quality at
the lower secondary level.
2. To help develop capacity to
implement the GSES programme at all levels.
3. To assist the Ministry of Education and Culture formulate and
implement innovative solutions
to problems in secondary education.
The programme provides for the
a) Selection of one poor girl per
primary school annually (which
will usually translate into one
girl from each village) who is
academically capable but will
not be able to attend secondary
school without a bursary.
b) Payment of the bursary to the
secondary school in which the
girl enrolls.
increasing enrolment
and improving the qual ity of schooling at both
the primary and sec ondary levels, coupled
with increasing opportu nities for girls, are the
highest priority areas for
investment to reverse
this stagnation in
human capital.
c) Monitoring of the girl and the
secondary school to make sure
that agreement is kept and the
girl is doing well.
d) The GSES girls are eligible for
support during all four years of
lower secondary school but
they may interrupt their
schooling for up to one year for
any reasons or repeat a year of
school and retain eligibility.
e) GSES provide bursaries to 20
percent of the recipients who
will qualify for admission to Alevel studies.
Programme Impact
The GSES pilot programme is currently operating in 16 out of 113
districts of Tanzania. By June,
2000, 2994 girls had received
GSES bursaries at a cost of Tsh
722,136,526. The average unit
cost per head was Tshs 241,194.56.
There has been greater motivation to learn and to persist in
school for GSES girls. Their attitude towards education is higher
with high levels of decreased. Currently it stands at 2.8 percent,
which is far less than the national
average of 8.8 percent. (BEST,
A particular feature of the
GSES program has been its contribution to improving knowledge of
the secondary school system in
some villages that had not sent a
child to secondary school in many
The selection process of bursary recipients is done effectively
by community members. Through
village, government and school
committees, the progress of GSES
girls is monitored. At family and
community levels, this has challenged parents to review their confidence in the education system,
and to begin to contemplate strategies to support the other children
not covered by the GSES bursaries.
Heads of schools have realized
the importance of providing
accommodation to girls. Almost
all schools have designated a female
teacher as a matron. All GSES
schools are encouraged to contest
for the award provided through
preparation of Gender Action
Lessons Learnt
The emphasis in selection of girls
from poor backgrounds but who
are academically able, addresses
the issues of poverty as well as
equity by expanding access, and
improving educational opportunities for girls.
The community participation
in GSES programme brings out
the issue of mobilization, owner-
ship, and control which, taken
together, lays the foundation for,
and guarantees sustainability.
Community participation also
draws attention to the various
dimensions of culture, and enables
the transparent re-appraisal of cultural norms and practices in terms
of the negative and the positive
aspects as they relate to girl’s participation in education.
The GSES is a good test of the
way key areas of Tanzania’s national education and training policy
are being put into operation, such
as decentralization, quality, access
and equity, management and
administration and financing of
Boarding School: Panacea for Girls’ Education?
Boarding schools provide answers to many of the reasons girls drop out of school. This is the rationale for
the estblishment of FAWE Centres of Excellence in a number of countries in Africa today . These are institutions that bring together under one roof most of the interventions proven to work in improving girls’ education, including boarding facilities.
What do Boarding Schools Offer?
Better Performance
There is evidence from several studies that girls in boarding schools perform better than those in day schools.
This is widely acknowledged in countries like Kenya and Sudan, where each year newspapers carry results of
national examinations. Invariably the top 20 best performing schools, for either boys or girls, are boarding
schools. It is evident that a well-run boarding school provides a safe haven for students, especially girls. These
schools shut out many factors within the households and the community that have a negative influence on
girls’ participation and performance in education.
Conducive Environment
Boarding schools provide more time and a more conducive environment for study, in great contrast to the situation of girls from rural homes and slum dwellings who are day scholars. Such girls face multiple constraints
when it comes to studying at home. They study late in the night only after completing their evening chores.
Their study is done under poor lighting, provided by a kerosene lamp or candle. They most likely have to
improvise seating arrangements for lack of proper furniture. Those in slum dwellings have to put up with noisy
neighborhoods not to mention crowded sleeping arrangements that are likely to trigger sexual abuse. The misery is endless.
Boarding schools not only provide scheduled times for private studying, they encourage all students to participate in extra-curricular activities, such as sports, music and club activities of various kinds. Girls from poor
homes in boarding schools enjoy amenities ordinarily absent from their homes such as water, sanitary facilities
and regular meals.
Boarding facilities also limit the truancy and negative peer influence commonly associated with day scholars.
review of the many studies
undertaken in sub-Saharan Africa in 1990s relating to sexual behaviour and reproductive health of adolescents is
revealing. Across the continent,
sexual relations start early, and by
age 15 a majority of young people
are sexually active.
Many of these relations are with
multiple partners and the majority
involve sexual intercourse that is
both unplanned and unprotected.
As a consequence of these relations, sub-Saharan African countries are witnessing an alarming
increase in education wastage, particularly among girls through
childbearing, abortion complications and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. On average, 20 percent of the
female adolescents in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa give
birth every year. Studies in Kenya
have shown that by age 20, about
21 percent of Kenyan adolescents
have had at least one child and
that 8,000 to 13,000 girls drop
out of school each year due to
pregnancy. In Ghana, during the
period 1990–1994, out of a student population of 5,576, some
1,068 dropped out. Of these 638
were girls and 172 (27 percent)
dropped out due to pregnancy,
making pregnancy the highest
cause of dropout among girls in
Sexually transmitted diseases
and HIV/AIDS are ravaging
African adolescents. It is estimated
that women aged 15–24 comprise
the fastest growing group with
Girls who drop out of school due to pregnancy normally go to the rural areas to
bring up their babies there of just abandon them with their parents.
AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and
account for nearly 30 percent of
all female AIDS cases. This means
girls who should be in school or
colleges are missing because they
are ailing or dying.
Abortion: Cases of abortion are on
the increase. Each year worldwide
an estimated half-million women
die from pregnancy related causes,
with 99 percent of the deaths in
developing countries and a quarter
to a third of the deaths linked to
unsafe abortion. Data from 27
studies in developing countries
(Hirch and Baker, 1992) found
that adolescent admissions
accounted for 60 percent of
females admitted with abortion
related complications. Methods of
inducing abortion used by adolescents are generally crude and dangerous and are sometimes carried
out by non-medical service
providers leading to many complications (See Box on page 19). A
study in Uganda revealed that girls
under 20 years old constituted 60
percent of patients who died as a
result of abortion complications.
Management of abortion and associated complications is a major
burden to health care facilities.
Adolescent Pregnancy: the Mauritius Consultation
Back in 1994, recognition of
schoolgirl pregnancy as an increasingly important factor in school
dropout prompted FAWE to convene the Ministerial Consultation
on Adolescent Pregnancy and
Dropout in Mauritius. At this
meeting, the ministers recommended detailed studies of this
problem in countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Completed studies in
seven countries—Botswana,
Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Zanzibar, and Sao Tome
and Principe— have yielded the
following common observations
regarding the existing problem and
recommendations on what should
be done.
The United Nations new
global initiative for girls’
To demonstrably narrow the gender gap in primary and secondary education by 2005.
To ensure that by 2015, all children everywhere—boys and girls
alike—will be able to complete
primary schooling education.
To ensure that, by then, boys and
girls will have equal access to all
levels of education.
Implementing these goals will
require all our sensitivity, imagination, and determination. It
will, indeed, be a test of our
entire international community.
Koffi Annan,
United Nations Secretary General
Address to the World Education
Dakar, Senegal, April 2000
Studies have shown that on average pupils in urban areas perform better than
their counterparts in rural schools.
The Existing Problem
Poverty remains an important factor in causing dropout, with the
lack of resources still keeping out a
significant proportion of young
people, either by not allowing
them to enroll in the first place or
by forcing them to leave before
they have completed.
Advocacy still needs to be done
with respect to truly recognizing
the right of all children to education. This means not only providing school places, but actively
encouraging the poorest, most disadvantaged to attend and to make
strenuous efforts to keep all the
children in school, even those who
become pregnant.
Much greater emphasis needs
to be placed on effective prevention of both dropout and pregnan-
cy by counselling and extra support for those at risk of dropping
Extensive advocacy work is
needed to encourage communities
to think about dropout and
schoolgirl pregnancy in a more
affirming way.
Ministry of Education officials
are themselves highly conservative
and reluctant to sponsor alternative education programmes or outreach or to facilitate re-entry of
girls who have become pregnant in
school. Also communities remain
reluctant to prosecute or act
against boys and men who make
young girls pregnant.
Sexuality education is important for the future and institutionalizing it is a challenge for responsible leadership.
Recommended Strategies
for Reducing Pregnancyrelated Dropout
Partly as a result of the
Mauritius Ministerial
Consultation, and its follow up meeting in Dakar,
Senegal, in 1997, there
are now a wide variety of
activities and strategies in
operation in different
countries in Africa aimed
at reducing pregnancy
related school dropout. In
one extreme, girls continue to be penalized for
their pregnancies because
they are thought to be a
corrupting influence on
Studies in Kenya have shown that by age 20,
their peers, but in generabout 21 percent of Kenyan adolescents have had
at least one child and that 8,000 to 13,000 girls al, there are more progressive policies being instidrop out of school each year due to pregnancy.
tuted for rehabilitating
and reintegrating the girls.
Pregnancy prevention strategies
It has to be acknowledged
indeed that we are still a
far cry from basic Education for All, that it is still but
a distant dream for hundreds of millions of children,
women and men.
KoГЇchiro Matsuura,
Director General, UNESCO
at the World Education Forum
Dakar, Senegal, April 2000
Figure 5
are mostly school based. They
include guidance and counseling
services in schools; clubs of various
types including Christian Union
Clubs whose role is to instill good
morals in young people and to
teach them about reproductive
health, and peer education groups,
which have been very effective in
counseling youth in many countries in Africa. One approach to
prevention that remains controversial, despite positive benefits, is
family life education (FLE) that
incorporates reproductive health
and sexuality. (Figure 5 – Pregnan cy Related Drop-out as Percentage of
Total Female Enrolment
1990/1995 pg. 45 of The Adoles cent AIDS Epidemic of Pathfinder)
Many countries are only teaching
components of this subject within
other main subjects.
A second category of strategies
consists of policy interventions:
expulsion, re-entry and uninter-
Complications from Unsafe Abortion
rupted schooling. Expulsion was
used as a deterrent against schoolgirl pregnancy in many countries
during colonial days. Even unmarried teachers who became pregnant
were forced to take a two-year
unpaid leave. Today, countries like
Togo, Mali and Zambia are among
those who still expel pregnant girls
and do not allow them re-entry.
Under a re-entry policy girls are
temporarily suspended from school
during pregnancy and after a specified time are allowed to re-enter.
Kenya, Botswana, GuineaConakry and Malawi are among
the countries that have instituted
re-entry programmes.
Re-entry Programmes: For a variety of reasons, however, many expregnant girls never return to
school. For some, the re-entry policy is unknown or not clear. For
others, the lack of support systems
including difficulties in finding
child-care prevent re-entry. Often,
where it may be possible to get
help, the socio-cultural set-up may
not encourage re-entry.
In Botswana, a recent survey
indicates that only 10 percent of
the girls re-enter school after the
one-year mandatory maternity
leave (see box on page 20). In
Kenya, the re-entry policy is yet to
be elaborated and it is at the discretion of the school administration whether to accept girls back
into the same school.
Namibia in 1997 formulated
one of the most progressive pregnancy policies on the continent—
Seventeen-year old Loise Mulenga writhes in pain on the cold concrete
floor of the gynecological ward of the Lusaka Teaching Hospital (LTH).
Her only garments, a blood-soaked school tunic and sweater, must keep
her warm from a fever she has had for the last 48 hours. The cause? An
abortion turned awry.
Four days ago when Loise missed her periods for the third consecutive
month, she became desperate and headed for the all too familiar surroundings of a clinic of a backstreet practitioner, determined that this
would be the last time she would come back here lest she failed to complete her much valued secondary school education. This high school
candidate is the first-born of six children of a Lusaka vegetable hawker.
Once the procedure was complete, Loise returned home confident
that within two days she would be able to go back to school. That night,
however, she began to bleed profusely, and had excruciating pain in her
lower abdomen. By the morning, she had such a terrible fever that the
two blankets that ordinarily served as her bedding could not keep her
warm enough.
Obviously worried about her daughter’s condition. Loise’s mother
begged to take Loise to the hospital but she refused, hanging onto the
words of her �doctor’ that she would be well again in no time to resume
school. But on the second day Loise’s pain was unbearable. This time
with the help of her younger sister and mother, she was helped to the
LTH where she took her position on the bench to see the doctor.
Nine hours later, a weak and hungry Loise murmured her history to
the nurse who was asking quick and successive questions. " I’m eighteen," she whispered, "No, I don’t have a child." "I was here six months
ago with the same problem," she added, face down, ashamed that the
nurse might embarrass her before the older women like she had done the
first time.
Half an hour later, Loise was wheeled to the operating theatre where
the doctor performed an abdominal surgery for removal of her extensively perforated uterus.
Lying on her hospital bed two days after her operation, Loise pondered her future. How would she face her parents with the news that she
would never be able to have children?
Source: Addressing Complications of Unsafe Abortion in sub-Saharan Africa,
Programme and Policy Actions
CommonWealth Regional Health Community Secretariat, Arusha
uninterrupted schooling. The policy is democratic, takes into
account the academic, physical
and psychological needs of the girl
and her baby, and provides for
action against men responsible for
the pregnancy, particularly teachers.
Madagascar and Cameroon
also allow a girl to continue with
her education at the school until
the time of her confinement. After
Summary of findings of an investigation of the adequacy,
impact and implementation of the policy
Overall, the study found many constraints that hindered effective implementation of the policy and resulted in gender discrimination in its application at school level. Affected girls found it very restrictive and punitive
because of difficulties of meeting the conditions stipulated in it.
Rule: After delivery the girl should stay for a year before seeking readmission.
This plus the period of pregnancy spent out of class is too long and may kill
academic interest. Also, some heads of schools only admit students in the first
semester, insisting that thereafter no student would be able to catch up with
the subject.
Rule: A testimonial and school report from previous school are required
before readmission.
If the girl left the previous school without informing the administration, it will
be difficult for the school head to agree to give any testimonials.
Rule: The age of the applicant should meet admission age criteria.
With almost 24 months out of school, a girl may be almost two years older
than the age requirement of the class.
Rule: Boys involved in the pregnancy should also be discontinued from
school for a specified period.
This is rarely enforced and where it is tried, there are many ways boys can
continue in other schools without being detected.
Rule: A girl cannot write an examination in any school while pregnant.
Girls find this very unfair particularly if they have prepared for the exams.
After all, even teenage criminals, for instance, are allowed to write their exams
from prison cells.
Rule: The girl must produce the birth certificate of her baby before readmission.
The process of getting a birth certificate can take so long as to make the effort
of going back to school worthless.
Rule: The applicant must produce her own identity certificate.
For those who do not have identity cards, the process is known to take very
The policy is silent on disciplinary measures to be applied to male
adults, other than teachers, who impregnate school girls. Yet these are the
majority. The lack of academic continuity during pregnancy and the year
of waiting, leave the girl unprepared for the placement exams that she has
to sit in competing for the few vacant places that may be there in the normally overcrowded classes.
The readmission policy is not well known. Only 37 percent of students interviewed in Botswana knew something about it. Head teachers in
primary schools seemed to know less about it than those in secondary in
Source: B. Chilisa, 1998 – An Analysis and Evaluation of the Botswana
Re-entry Policy, FAWE
birth and recuperation, the girl has
the right of readmission to the
same school within 12 months of
the date of her leaving.
Alternative Education for Expregnant Girls
A number of alternative education
programmes targeting pregnant
and breastfeeding adolescents are
run by NGOs. Unfortunately,
many are not of very high quality
owing to instability of their funding and not much is known about
them, their structure, strengths
and limitations.
Some of the better known ones
• UMATI Centre in Dar es
Salaam, Tanzania, established
in 1986, offers basic primary
education to teenage mothers.
• The Education Centre for
Adolescent Women (ECAW),
established in 1988 in
Botswana, caters for 20 teenage
mothers per year. It prepares
them to sit for examinations to
enter secondary school.
• The Teenage Mothers’ Centre in
Ghana, established in 1992,
teaches teenage mothers
employable skills and safe
• Jamaa Home in Nairobi,
Kenya, which is part of a
maternity home, rehabilitates
adolescent pregnant girls
through skills training and
seeks opportunities to re-route
the girls back into formal education.
exual harassment in the
work place, in institutions of
learning, at home and in the
wider community has been the
focus of intensive research and legislation in the western world. By
contrast, there is little documentation of the nature, extent or handling of this insidious phenomenon in most countries in subSaharan Africa. Yet the increased
incidence of sex crimes in the
region, as reported in the media, is
What constitutes sexual
With heightened awareness of sexual harassment now picking up in
various institutions in sub-Saharan
Africa, there is growing consenPUNCH"- Sexual Terror at the
University of Dar es Salaam
"PUNCH" is a secret group of
members of the University of Dar
es Salaam believed to be males only.
The group researches the sexual history of a female student and prints
it on a big poster. Most of the
accounts are lies. This poster is then
posted very high at a point conspicuous to all on campus.
All around the University, the
insignia of PUNCH, a red skull, is
posted to alert the students that a
"new punch" has come out. This
process is used to threaten female
students who are unwilling to have
sexual relations with male students
especially from the Faculty of Engineering, believed to be where the
sus—at least among women—
about the behaviours that constitute sexual harassment. The majority of females agree that rape, sexual assault, intimidation and sexual
pressure, unsolicited and unwelcome touching or fondling, sexual-
The majority of females
agree that rape, sexual
assault, intimidation and
sexual pressure, unsolicit ed and unwelcome touch ing or fondling, sexuallyloaded comments and ges tures, staring, and streak ing are all forms of sexual
ly-loaded comments and gestures,
staring, and streaking are all forms
of sexual harassment.
A good number of males, however, insist that behaviour like
"unsolicited and unwelcome
touching or fondling" or staring,
are not harassments. In fact, they
consider this behavior to be "complimentary"—and some 24 percent of females in a study on sexual harassment at the University of
Natal, South Africa, agreed with
this "complimentary" excuse. That
nearly a quarter of women students accept this rationale is
alarming because it demonstrates
the extent to which some forms of
sexual harassment have been normalized either through socialization or as a defense strategy.
majority of the secret group that
form the "punch" are. The poster is
sometimes sent to the student concerned as a warning to her to stop
resisting the demands of the group.
The process is also used to threaten
female students vying for leadership
positions in the University student
Many times, the picture of the
face of the female student to be
punched is juxtaposed with a nude
picture scanned out of a magazine
like Playboy and then the photograph is reproduced and posted all
around the campus.
PUNCH has been the cause of
many tragic incidents at the University. In February 1990, Levina
Mukasa, a first-year education student, ended her life, it is believed,
because of harassment from
PUNCH. In 1997, another female
student was raped on campus and
because of fear of how PUNCH
might handle her ordeal, also committed suicide. She had confided
her fears to her roommate. Many
female students do not dare to vie
for any seats in the student council
or be heard speaking out publicly
in opposition of a male candidate,
particularly from the engineering
department. Because of fear, some
women perform badly in their
examinations and others have
dropped out of University unable
to handle the harassment of
Why has the University administration allowed this form of sexual
terrorism to continue?
Source: Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions - University of Dar es Salaam
Studies undertaken at a number of other universities in South
Africa, Kenyatta University in
Nairobi, the University of Dar es
Salaam and selected tertiary institutions in Malawi all indicated
that all these forms of sexual
harassment were prevalent on their
My Uncle
I was studying in a boarding school far away from home. One day, I ran
short of soap. Then I thought of going to aunt who was staying in the
town. I left school to my aunt’s place to get the assistance. When my aunt
saw me she said Oh! my daughter it’s a pleasure to see you. Since you have
come attend my children, so that I hurry to the village to collect some
She went and I remained with her children. After that came my aunt’s
husband, who came and laid on my bed and started forcing me to sex. I
struggled but the man was too heavy. Good enough he was drunk, then I
ran out when he fell down. That night I slept outside till morning. My
aunt came the next day. I thought of telling her but I thought if she knew
she would leave the man and the children will suffer. So what I did I just
went back to school without any assistance. From that time, I never come
back to my aunt’s place.
The time came my aunt died of AIDS and after two years the man
died. Imagine! If I was cheap to accept that man I would have died with
my aunt.
Dorothy Nabbada
13 years, Grade 6
Kichwa Primary School
Don’t Neglect Us!
The pregnant schoolgirl should not be neglected by the community. They
should help her join the benefiting projects in their community. They
should show love and care for her by assisting her in education. And most
especially the family members should show her a lot of care and support
at that moment. They should console her by assisting her so that she
doesn’t feel isolated.
Ruth Tino
Form 2
Mpoma Girls Secondary School
campuses. For example, at Rhodes
University, South Africa, 63 percent of the females had experienced some form of sexual harassment. At Chancellor College,
The single most repeated
reason women and girls
give for not reporting
sexual harassment or
rape remains "fear of
being accused of
provoking it."
Malawi, 12.6 percent of the
females reported that they had
been raped on campus and 67 percent said they had been sexually
Why is action against sexual
harassment not taken?
Rampant as sexual harassment is,
very few cases are reported. In
South Africa, it is estimated that
only one out of every 20 rape victims report to the police. The single most repeated reason women
and girls give for not reporting
sexual harassment or rape remains
"fear of being accused of provoking it." Closely following this is
"lack of faith in disciplinary procedures". Other commonly cited reasons for not reporting are fear of:
• Intimidation
• Retaliation
• Not being believed by authorities
• Being embarrassed
• Disciplinary consequences for
the perpetrators and guilt
• Media publicity
• Court ordeal
• Financial and time involvement
Abiriw Teenage Mothers’
Centre, Ghana
This Centre was established in
1992 by Elizabeth Appiah, a Public Health Nurse. The project had
to first overcome the disapproval
of the community and the Presbyterian Church, the main church
denomination in the small rural
community at Abiriw, who traditionally frowned on unmarried
pregnant girls. Today, through
the centre’s Management Committee, Mrs Appiah has managed
to involve the Presbyterian
Church, government, community
leaders, educational and medical
professionals, as well as the parents of the girls. The aims of the
Centre are two-fold, one is to
ensure safe motherhood, child
survival and continuous breast
feeding, and the other is to equip
the young mothers with employable skills while making them
receptive to family planning. The
project has, to date, changed community attitudes to the issues of
sex, adolescent pregnancy, contraception and family planning. It
has also succeeded in integrating
pregnant teenage mothers in the
rural community, thereby providing a realistic solution to the
problem of unwanted pregnancies
among adolescents.
Group discussions help to create a more relaxed atmosphere in the course of edu cation.
Many women and girls, faced with
interrogation, suddenly start seeing
themselves as having low credibility in the eyes of the authorities
and feel they have to prove their
innocence, yet they are there
because they have been wronged.
How do victims and their families
respond to rape?
For the victim, contrary to what is
sometime the conventional wisdom, rape is never a pleasant experience. Rape is unexpected, frightening and painful. Victims are
normally highly stressed and fearful both during and after the
crime. The stress of rape produces
heavy psychological responses,
such as:
• Shock, disbelief, denial
• Anxiety
• Fear and guarded behaviour
• Self blame and guilt
• Anger, resentment
• Emotional numbness
• Depression through feelings of
loss of self-respect, self-esteem
• Nightmares, hysteria, phobias.
Pregnancy - A Curse?
You are the only people I thought
would understand and stand by
me. I thought you would wipe my
tears and tell me that it is not the
end of the world. Instead you
deserted me in silence. You rejected me. The love I always thought
unconditional wasn’t after all. As
long as I brought you pride, you
were ready to love me. When I
inadvertently brought you shame
your love wasn’t strong enough to
stand the test. You are not even
interested in knowing whose baby
I’m carrying! You condemned me
without granting me a hearing.
Suppose it was rape would you
condemn me all the same! Did it
occur to you that it takes an
instant for one to get pregnant?
But don’t worry, your unsympathetic attitude has given me the
courage I needed. Though I am
stranded and hopeless at the
moment I will find a way out!
Anonymous, Uganda
It is no wonder that being raped
can be the end of academic life for
some students, or for others the
end of life. (See box on page 21)
The impact of a rape experience strongly affects the family
and close friends of the victim.
The immediate reactions of the
family can be supportive or
destructive. More than anyone
else, it is those close to the victim,
who will influence how she will
deal with the situation and how
soon (or if) she will be able to set24
tle back to academic work.
Destructive responses by the
family include:
• Visibly showing strong concern
about what the public/community/neighbours will think of
the family.
• Showing guilt feelings for not
having protected the victim.
• Viewing rape as a sexually
motivated act and therefore the
victim "as damaged goods" or
"of diminished value."
• Patronizing and overprotecting
the victim.
Harbouring direct anger and
resentment to a point of inability to communicate.
Directing blame at the victim
or family member.
Planning revenge against the
rapist or his family.
Failing to seek or facilitate professional counseling when
Failing to seek or facilitate
medical care and follow up.
Exhibiting unwillingness or
inability to cooperate with
legal systems.
Pressuring the victim to go
along with plans against her
wishes, e.g., urging her not to
report the case.
What should be done to eliminate sexual harassment?
Recommendations from the surveys undertaken in institutions of
higher learning in South Africa,
Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya place
the responsibility for reducing sexual harassment squarely on the
institutions themselves. The studies agree on the following:
• Every institution must establish a policy on sexual harassment.
There should be a body, preferably within the student counselling organization, to deal with
sexual harassment.
• Institutions must improve the
safety of their environment
through provision of better lighting, female security personnel and
female janitors in women’s halls of
• Information campaigns must
be mounted to highlight the
injustices of sexual harassment
and the need to respect individual
• Programmes to challenge sexist
stereotypes and to empower
women to respond assertively to
sexual harassment must be established.
• Institutions must examine
their strategies to assess the extent
of their institutional promotion of
sexist norms, for example, in job
selection and in provision of affirmative action for women.
• Support groups must be established or facilitated.
The universities in South
Africa are way ahead of others in
Africa in implementing these recommendations. Elsewhere, unfortunately, there are many universities in Africa that have not initiated any programmes on this issue.
FAWE has helped form girls clubs through its National Chapters which help girls
discuss the problem they encounter.
The Kenyatta University
Kenya today is home to over 10
universities both public and private and a host of other diploma
Avoid Taking Risks
According to surveys done on university campuses, there are places and
times that increase the risk of sexual assault. Nights, weekends and orientation weeks are considered the high risk periods. Vulnerability is
associated with being alone, dressing provocatively, walking seductively,
or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
For girls and women on and off university campuses, including
schoolgirls, a number of personal safety rules should be observed:
Do not let the "whole world" know you live alone.
Avoid deserted areas.
Do not accept lifts from strangers.
Always look around you and be alert to your surroundings.
Do not show open contempt towards young men in the streets who try
to get your attention.
Avoid deserted public vehicles and if you suspect people in it are intent
on molesting you, get off at the next stop and alert those around.
Be cautious of taxi drivers.
Source: ACCD Factsheets on Adolescent Problems, 1995
and certificate awarding professional colleges and institutions.
All these institutions are co-educational and although hardly any
information is published or available in relation to the problem of
sexual harassment in these institutions, the problem is known to
Kenyatta University, the second oldest university in the country, is a step ahead of most of these
institutions. It has documented
reports of studies and action taken
towards fighting this menace.
Kenyatta University constituted its
first committee on sexual harassment as early as 1993, following
complaints of harassment of
female students by male students
and lecturers and another in 1998
following a brutal attack and rape
of 2 of its female students. Investigations by these committees
revealed that sexual harassment
was indeed rampant on campus
Public Insensitivity toward Victims of Rape
The insensitive attitude towards victims of rape, especially by the male
world, is as old as humanity. Except where the rape victim is a minor or
a member of one's family, the public tends to show insensitivity towards
the whole question of rape. Too many people, without stopping to even
think about it, accept many myths about rape:
Rape is provoked by the victim through such behaviour as:
• Provocative dressing
• Seductive walking
• Walking alone at night
• Accepting lifts from strangers
• Allowing herself to be picked up from bars or discos
Decent women are never raped, one has to be promiscuous.
Any woman should be able to prevent a rape if she really wants. No
woman can be raped against her will.
Rape is an impulsive, uncontrollable act of sexual gratification. A sexually
frustrated man "just cannot control himself" if he sees an attractive girl.
Therefore it is considered a legitimate sexual need or urge on the part of
the man.
A normal man does not commit rape. He has to be abnormal, a pervert,
sick or insane.
In Africa, there is no such thing as a husband raping his wife.
When rape strikes close to home and a loved one is raped, ownership and
abuse of property appear often appear to be the driving force behind
men’s anger and rage. Too often it is purely a matter of economics:
• If a married woman is raped it is her husband who has been wronged
not her. In some communities in Africa settlement between the rapist
and husband is based on cash.
• If an unmarried girl or woman is raped, it is her father who suffers,
since his investment depreciates. Chances of a good catch in marriage
and a fat dowry are diminished.
• If a prostitute is raped, nobody cares.
al harassment have been dealt
with instantly and with the sensitivity they deserve.
The counseling services for students have been strengthened
so as to cater for the needs of
sexually harassed students. Also
the Vice Chancellor has continued to listen to and assist
women of all levels. Since the
Vice Chancellor openly and
visibly shows concern about the
plight of women at Kenyatta
University, some men have
started showing concern with
some degree of support.
Provision of better and more
efficient lighting on campus
especially the major walking
Female security officers were
More female janitors were
placed in women’s halls of residence.
Source: ACCD Factsheets on Adolescent Problems, 1995
and majority of cases went unreported. Recommendations submitted to the University management
then, ranged from strategies of
improving security on campus and
halls of residence to issues of training in assertiveness and the need
to have a definite University policy
on sexual harassment.
Today, Kenyatta University has
made remarkable efforts to implement most of the recommendations emanating from the work of
these two committees:
1. An office of a Deputy Director
of student affairs was created
and occupied by a senior
woman. Reported cases of sexu26
Kenyatta University
constituted its first
committee on sexual
harassment as early as
1993, following
complaints of harassment
of female students by male
students and lecturers and
another in 1998
following a brutal attack
and rape of 2 of its
female students.
Other interventions planned and
soon to be implemented include:
• Formation of support groups
for women and students and
staff members
• Provision of a house where students and voluntary
mentors/counselors can meet
• Assertiveness training
• Production and dissemination
of educational materials
• Establishment of a monitoring
• Encouragement and support of
academic and professional
development of women at the
Household and community factors
High direct costs of schooling
rom work undertaken by
FAWE and various other
NGOs and agencies in subSaharan Africa, the problems forcing girls out of school are complex
and interrelated. Poverty, pregnancy, sexual harassment or
HIV/AIDS are only part of a
much bigger problem. Because of
the inter-relatedness of these
issues, they can only be tackled by
use of a multi-faceted strategy that
matches each set of constraints
with corresponding interventions.
In Africa, no one government has
the capacity to address all these
constraints alone. This is a mammoth task that calls for a combination of partnerships including
NGOs, funding organizations,
researchers, community leaders,
teachers and parents. FAWE is
working with a host of partners to
ensure implementation of a wide
range of support that responds in a
comprehensive and holistic
approach to the multiple problems
that have been identified as
responsible for high rates of dropping out by girls, particularly in
rural areas. The table below presents a summary of promising
strategies for improving female
participation in education that
therefore minimize dropping out.
These are among the FAWE supported and commissioned activities for the improvement of girls’
High opportunity costs of schooling
Low private economic returns to
girls’ education
Chastity and sexual safety
Low demand for female education
School level factors
Enrolment and promotion policy
Management: Calendar and safety
Political and institutional factors
Policy on schoolgirl pregnancy,
promotion of female educators, training
of staff
Attitude, will and commitment to
empowering women and the poor.
Legal status of women
• Lower the cost of school materials
• Provide transportation and uniforms
• Introduce bursary, scholarship and fee
waiver program, school lunches, medical
and health support.
• Adjust the school calendar to accommo
date households child requirements.
• Reduce the distance between school and
• Use satellite schools.
• Provide childcare and pre-school facilities
promote labour-saving technologies.
• Improve the legal and regulatory systems to
enhance women’s status.
• Make education curricula more responsive
and relevant to livelihood and market
• Increase community participation in
• Construct culturally appropriate facilities.
• Promote more female teachers.
• Secularize Koranic schools.
• Launch information campaigns that
engage community, religious and civic
• Promote adult literacy programs.
• Increase enrolment by lowering the
enrolment age.
• Reduce drop-out rates, review repetition
and expulsion policies.
• Provide child care facilities.
• Institute flexible hours.
• Improve achievement: review learning
materials for gender bias, improve science
and math teaching.
• Promote female teachers in the sciences.
• Establish science laboratories and school
• Institute tutoring and monitoring
• Promote female teachers in the sciences.
• Establish science laboratories and school
• Institute tutoring and monitoring
• Promote gender sensitivity training in all
pre and in-service training courses and for
educational managers.
• Create a favourable environment to
support women and the poor through
policy review.
• Invest in the necessary structures: schools,
facilities for girls, toilets, dormitories, walls.
• Launch information campaigns
• Enhance the status of women through the
regulatory process.
• Adopt poverty-alleviating strategies that
release women and girls from the task of
water and fuel collection for more
productive activities.
• Improve women’s access to the formal
labour market.
Source: Ogada and Heneveld, Girls and Schools in SSA: From Analysis to Action
World Bank Technical paper No. 298,1995: 53
International House, Mama Ngina Street
P.O. Box 53168, Nairobi, Kenya
(254) 2 226590, 330352
(254) 2 210709
Email: [email protected]
Website: http//
28 July - 5 August
Zimbabwe International Book Fair,
Harare, Zimbabwe
School Related Factors
• Poor quality of the learning environment
• Prohibitive costs of schooling
• Irrelevant curricula
• Long distance to schools
• High levels of repetition, dropout
and failure
• Sexual harassment and/or liaison
• Pregnancy
14-18 August
Political and Institutional Factors
• Fiscal crisis
• Inadequate public expenditure in
the social sectors
• Political instability and civil strife
• Unclear strategy for girls’ educa tion
• Weak research and data collec tion capacity, and use in policy
• Low status of women
• Limited employment prospects
Girls’ Education Week, Uganda
17-18 August
Preparatory Workshop to initiate the proces of launching the African Network
Forum (AKNF), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
29 August - 1 September
The African Computing & Telecommunications Sumit, Sun City, South Africa
18-19 September
Workshop on Web Development,
Carnegie Corporation of New York, USA.
21 October
Girls’ Education Day, Mali
19-23 October
ADEA Steering Committee Meeting
Paris, France
Outcome for Girls
• Non-enrolment
• Overage enrolment
• Absenteeism
• Poor motivation
• Low self-esteem
• Poor academic performance
• High levels of drop-out
• High illiteracy levels
• Limited labor market opportunities
Socio-cultural Factors
• Ambivalent parental/familial attitude to female education
• Premium placed on apprenticeships
• Initiation ceremonies
• Early marriage and bride
price/wealth systems
• Religion
• Gender socialization
Socioeconomic Factors
• Poverty
• Direct cost of schooling
• Opportunity costs of schooling
• Limited employment prospects
• Socioeconomic status and social
• Parental/familial investment
• The economic value of girls
• Rural/urban residence
• Level of parental education
Source: Odaga and Heneveld, Girls and Schools in sub-Saharan Africa: from
Analysis to Action, World Bank Technical Paper No. 298, 1995: 49
7-8 November
Regional Ministerial Consultation Meeting
on closing the Gender Gap in Education
Nairobi, Kenya
24-25 November
FAWE Executive Committee Meeting
Nairobi, Kenya
25 November
Girls’ Education Day, Ethiopia
26 February - 2 March 2001
Africa Region Conference for Adult
Learners, Kampala, Uganda
FAWE has been
awarded the
World Bank
Monetary Fund Africa
Forum 2000 Award