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A world of possibilities A world of possibilities
By Dr. Harriet Sakala, FAWEZA Alumni

From the Executive

FAWE actions to enhance girls’ education show strong results in the first half of 2009

Friday, 28 August 2009

Steps taken by FAWE to support girls’ and women’s education in the first half of 2009 have produced significant results that confirm the organisation’s influential role in transforming African education for greater gender-responsiveness.

Policy advocacy

In line with its strategic objective to influence the integration of gender issues into education policies and plans in order to improve girls’ access, retention and performance, FAWE contributed to the review of education policies for gender-responsiveness in Malawi, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe, and to the development of gender-responsive action plans for the education sector in Burundi, Ethiopia, Namibia, Zambia and Zanzibar.

The reviews identified gender gaps in national education systems at primary, secondary and tertiary educational levels. These gaps included gender inequity in staffing and inadequate gender-responsive structures such as latrines, hostels and dormitories. The review processes also created awareness among policy-makers, implementers and beneficiaries on education and gender equality.

Notably, in Uganda, thanks to FAWE’s leadership, education stakeholders agreed to collaboratively document good practices in promoting girls' education for replication nationwide.

Replication of FAWE’s successful models

One of FAWE’s aims for 2009 is to ensure that its best practices in girls’ education are demonstrated in at least 25 countries in order to improve educational quality, gender parity and equitable access at all levels of education. Consequently, the organisation began replication of its Centre of Excellence (COE) model in Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mali, Senegal, Southern Sudan, Swaziland and Zanzibar.

Following the establishment of a COE in Grande Comore, Comoros, in 2008, the Ministry of Education has begun the replication of in other islands, while in Rwanda, the Ministry of Education is in the final stages of construction of a second COE – FAWE Girls Rukara – in Eastern Province. In Kenya, funds have been allocated in the Ministry’s budget for COE replication.

FAWE COEs have shown positive results for girls’ access, retention, performance and transition. The Dipéo COE in Burkina Faso has 324 students enrolled in 2009, more than half of them – 176 – being girls. Teachers practice gender-responsive pedagogy in the classroom and the number of female teachers in the school has increased from zero in 2005 to three in 2009. In Gambia, the number of girls enrolled has progressed from 24 in 2003 to 70 in 2009. In Rwanda, the COE has reported improved academic performance for girls in Science subjects and an increased number of girls transiting to university. And the AIC Kajiado COE in Kenya ranked top in Science, Mathematics and Technology subjects in national primary school certificate exams in 2008 for Kajiado district.

Community advocacy

FAWE mobilised communities in 10 countries to become actively involved in increasing girls’ enrolment, retention and performance. As a result, target communities in Burkina Faso, Chad, Comoros, Gambia, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda took specific actions including passing by-laws to protect girls from early marriage; increasing their participation in the management of COEs; providing materials for construction of school facilities; providing food to support school feeding programmes; and counselling girls on sexual maturation. These actions have contributed to a reduction in the number of unwanted pregnancies and forced marriages and an increase in the rate of girls’ enrolment and retention.

Notably, in Chad, the community surrounding the Centre of Excellence instituted a law to prevent community members from marrying girls of less than 15 years of age. In Kenya, the project to reconcile girls in the AIC Kajiado rescue centre with their families resulted in a reduction from 60 to 40 in the number of girls remaining in school during school holidays instead of returning home to their families.

Plans for the second half of 2009

FAWE will highlight the progress made in the first half of 2009 in achieving its objectives for girls’ and women’s education at its 39th Executive Committee meeting to be held in Windhoek, Namibia, from 3 to 4 September 2009.

In addition to the progress made so far in 2009, a number of programme outputs will be delivered in the second half of the year. These include a publication documenting NCs’ process of influencing integration of gender into national policies; draft case studies for the EFA+10 review in 2010; and a document on experiences emerging from FAWE’s Science, Mathematics and Technology programme to enhance girls’ participation and performance in these subjects.

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