- Published on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 02:15
- Written by ORTON KIISHWEKO
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EFFORTS to ensure that girls stay for longer years in schools have received a jab in the arm in the form of a fundraising drive to raise 2.3bn/- by Tanzania Education Authority (TEA) to construct 30 hostels for girls in eight regions.
The move by TEA comes as evidence keeps emerging suggesting that girl pupils and students face many challenges which include having to do domestic chores and being prone to harassment on their way to and from school that limit both their time to study at home and concentration.
Harassment, in some cases is in form of facing sexual predators. Statistics show that between 2008 and 2010, a total of 16,686 pregnancies were recorded among students, according to official records by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.
“And for those who rent rooms in communities surrounding their schools spend much time looking for essentials like water and food supplies, so we kindly request education stakeholders and Tanzanians at large to contribute on this fundraising campaign,’’ said Deputy Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu.
Lack of hostels, she said, largely contributes to school dropouts among girls and action should be taken. In 2010, she observed, a total of 728,522 girls dropped out of schools and that there was an increase of 74,000 students the following year which was a 9.2 per cent rise.
In 2009 the number of dropouts was 11,264 girls, noting that very serious solutions were needed to check these trends, taking into account that education is a catalyst to development. The deputy minister made the comments during a fundraising drive at Kibaigwa in Dodoma region. The campaign drive will also be held at schools in Ufana in Manyara, Mibukwe in Tanga, Milola in Lindi, Nyihara in Mara, Lundo in Ruvuma, Butundwe in Mwanza and Buseko Hill in Kigoma.
It is understood that students at Kibaigwa Secondary School said they face many challenges including walking five kilometres daily while they are prone to harassment on their way to and from school. Such a dilemma is reflected in several research studies on education for girls across the region.
Girls appear to be more resilient than boys in preventing problems at home from affecting their behaviour in school, a study into the gender educational achievement gap says. It says the tendency for girls to do better in later years at school has become increasingly pronounced in the past two decades, a study into the gender educational achievement gap says. It also seeks to show why girls are succeeding at school.
It highlights that there are many varied reasons and theories to explain why girls do better in the educational system when compared to boys. “Girls tend to outperform boys because of the changing attitudes: girls’ attitudes towards education, work and marriage have changed dramatically over the last century and correspond to the involvement women have in society,” it notes.
In the study, educational researchers sought to explain the difference through a variety of factors connected to both physiology and environment, including theorising that boys are inherently more resistant to a formal educational system.
It shows that student enrolment and expenditures per student have been on the rise in the region over the past decade.
It shows that over the past few years, there have been a growing number of female students opting to pursue further studies or higher education than in previous years. “Around twenty years ago it was the norm to expect young intelligent females to leave education at the earliest opportunity (age 16) to commence a so-called ‘stop gap’ job, which they hoped would prepare them for marriage and motherhood.
These jobs were generally low paid and were most commonly found in the ‘typing’ field of work,” states the study. It adds that recently, improvements of choices for many female students have increased considerably. “The aspirations of many young females now concentrate on education and employment. These girls no longer aspire to be housewives and being dependent on their spouses,” it adds.
It says that there are now more appealing routes available into employment, these include areas such as the service industries, media jobs and information technology. These, they say, are new opportunities that provide a ‘workplace paradise’ for the young women of today who are no longer discriminated against as much as before. There are widening opportunities in a new improved genderless, barrier-free world of employment and no preference for a fully-male employment system.
“The messages driving women as a whole to strive for such differences in the education and employment systems are displayed in the form of iconic female figures such as Prof Ana Tibaijuka, Dr Asha-Rose Migiro and many iconic private entrepreneurs and civil servants holding high posts,” it notes.
It also says that governments have introduced girl-specific courses into schools to encourage their interests in subjects that were seen as being traditionally for boys. Yet, financing gaps still exist for achieving universal quality education throughout the region, especially in countries with strong demographic pressures.
“Many African countries are facing a dilemma of how best to balance scarce resources and the growing demands to improve education quality for their children and youths,” notes the report. A new report titled "Financing Education in sub-Saharan Africa," which focuses on the new challenges related to expanding access, equity and quality education, discusses the endemic crisis that has beset higher education in Africa since the outset of the post-colonial period.
It highlights the critical state of higher education systems in Tanzania and other countries by scrutinizing the causes, manifestations and consequences of the crisis to posit useful recommendations and possible solutions. TEA has been sponsoring female students who undertake technical studies in institutions such as Arusha Technical College to encourage more female candidates.
Perhaps it is now time for all potential funders to encourage TEA too through contributing to the education body’s initiatives.
The initiative by the authority to raise funds to construct hostels for girls in the eight regions may just be a starting point, making it crucial for all stakeholders and individuals, each to each, to support TEA and hence assurance of the future of the Tanzania girl student.