Since the 1990 World Declaration on Education for All (EFA), both education and gender equality have been recognised as fundamental requirements for development. Yet almost twenty years after the Declaration, African countries have made only slow and uneven progress towards the goals set for 2015. African girls and women do not have the same educational opportunities and life chances as their male counterparts.
According to the 2009 EFA Global Monitoring Report, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 47 percent of the world’s out-of-school children. Despite considerable progress towards universal primary education in recent years, 35 million African children of primary school age are still not enrolled in school. More than half of these – 54 percent — are girls, many of whom have never attended school at all.
More than half of sub-Saharan African countries had not reached gender parity in primary education by 2006. At secondary level, gender gaps existed in most of the region’s countries, while at tertiary level, only Botswana and Swaziland had achieved parity.
Women account for less than 20 percent of students in scientific subjects in tertiary education, and female teachers are particularly under-represented at secondary and tertiary levels, being more represented at lower levels of education.
Landmark protocols such as the Jomtien conference, the World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal, in 2000 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), also of 2000, have recognised these disparities and advocated strongly for access to basic education for all children and for gender equity in education.
FAWE believes that empowering girls and women through education brings immense benefits not only at individual level but at community and country level too.
We have developed practices and models over the years that could lead to noteworthy advances in educational quality and gender equity in Africa over the next decade if adopted across the region.