We need deliberate efforts to promote girls’ education across the country
Posted Thursday, February 14 2013 at 02:00
Schools should institute mentoring programmes where successful women and girls talk to school girls and motivate them to work hard at school.
Following the release of the national O-Level exams last week, it was reported that girls had performed poorly in comparison to boys as has been the case in the previous three years. This trend should worry all of us. We all know that educating girls/women is educating the nation.
One of the explanations for the poor performance of girls was too much domestic work. Much as I agree that domestic work affects girls’ performance because they do not get enough time to revise and focus on studies like boys do, especially in rural areas, I believe there are other contributing factors that need to be addressed.
Lack of facilities to cater for girls’ specific needs is one of the issues affecting their performance. As girls grow older and reach puberty, they need certain facilities to be in place at school if they are to attend school regularly. Does anyone know how many girls miss school because they lack sanitary towels and fear embarrassment during this period while at school? How many schools have sufficient toilets to cater for girls and boys separately?
Another problem is the lack of encouragement and mentoring of girls. It was mentioned in the newspapers that girls lack resilience and that they easily get distracted. Also, many of the people they associate with in the rural areas have themselves dropped out of school and are not in a position to motivate these girls.
The negative attitude towards girls’ education is another hindrance to their academic excellence. Many parents still feel that girls’ education is a waste of time! Even teachers in some schools do not motivate girls to excel. We have all heard of phrases like “girls are not good in science”, “girls are weaker than boys”, etc. Much as many girls excel in the Arts, what is the future of these girls in a world that is becoming science oriented? I, therefore, suggest the following:
. The government should allocate more resources to the education sector to specifically cater for girls’ needs in schools.
.Schools should institute mentoring programmes where successful women and girls talk to school girls and motivate them to work hard at school. The mentoring could focus on promotion of science education, which appears to be a problem for many girls.
.The government and civil society should conduct community sensitisation on the value of girls education.
. Schools should set up peer-to-peer counselling clubs where girls can encourage each other and also organise exchange visits between the “first world” schools and the rural schools for experience sharing.