Gender inequality still a challenge in education -report

Monday January 16 2012

The report says girls have continued to be

The report says girls have continued to be disadvantaged compared to the boys. 

By Al-mahdi Ssenkabirwa

Although much emphasis has been put on provision of education, little has been done to address causes of gender inequality, a new report has showed.

According to the situation analysis report of the Gender and Equity Responsiveness of the Pre-Primary and Secondary School levels, girls have continued to be disadvantaged compared to boys in all aspects of education access, participation and performance at both primary and secondary school levels-something that has limited their chances to grab opportunities in higher institutions of learning.

“Girls have continued to be disadvantaged compared to the boys in all aspects of education access, participation and performance at both primary and secondary school levels, except at pre-primary level where there is gender equality in access.

According to Ministry of education records, the number of boys who joined tertiary institutions last year stood at 100,831 while girls were only 78,738-indicating a gap of 22,093.

The report says the much touted political commitment to bridge the gender gap in education had failed to translate into budget allocations and there was no robust records and information management system put in place to track progress and the impact of the interventions.

“While indicators for gender equality and equity were defined in the policy, no targets were set. This makes it difficult to establish what needs to be done annually and therefore budget accordingly,” says the seven-page report compiled by the ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

The report released in Kampala recently indicates that although the free primary education programme has significantly improved provision of education for both girls and boys ,the overall indicators mask big district inequalities, especially for the Karamoja region where completion rates are still very low .

“While the interventions are generally appropriate, there is a miss-match in the targeting –grant aiding was done in districts which had good access indicators like Wakiso, Luweero, and Jinja in 2009/10. This is because grant aiding was based on expressed need other than potential need,” the report adds.

The report says the interventions recorded focus much more on the quality of education than gender and equity. “Only two intervations, infracture development and provision of furniture and other equipment may be regarded as equity interventions and therefore not much gender analysis was done at the secondary level,” the report say.

“Although performance at Uganda Certificate of Education exams has in the last two years been on average high at 95 percent of students passing with at least division four, there are however glaring gender and geographical imbalances with some districts having no female student passing in the first division.”

It says although there efforts to fund some specific activities to address gender and equity concerns ,the funding has not been stable and actually suffered massive cuts in 2010/11 fiscal year.

However, the report says the promotion of Business ,Technical ,Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) has significantly increased the number and percentage share of girls enrolled in post –primary formal education, although there is still gender imbalances and negative social perceptions of BTVET programme. According to the report causes of inequalities are mainly related to costs, early marriage and pregnancy and the perception that children are too young to attend school.

Two decades ago, government introduced the 1.5 Bonus Points Scheme at Makerere University for female students in addition to the female students’ individual examination scores under the affirmative action policy for women.

This was done to increase the number of female undergraduate entrants into the university however there really still evidence that the problem is still bigger. There is a growing campaign to have the scheme scrapped, saying it has already achieved its target and boys now seem to be the ones being marginalised.

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