Author: Bernard, A.; Cabral, Z.
Gender and Education in Mozambique (GEM) started in 1997. It grew out of the previous Girls' Education Project, also implemented through UNICEF and supported by CIDA. Gender and Education in Mozambique as such, will no longer be supported by CIDA, nor is expected to continue as a project within UNICEF Country Program of Operations 2002-06. The focus of this project is gender equity as a cross-cutting dimension integrated into all education support activities. The aim of this project is to achieve an increase in enrolment and completion rates for girls, reducing dropout and repetition rates among girls, significantly reducing and eventually eliminating the gender gap in primary education, and ensuring that all girls attain defined levels of learning.
Purpose / Objective
The objective of the evaluation was to assess the results that GEM has had as an intervention to promote gender equity in basic education. From this base, it has tried to draw some implications and lessons for the gender equity and quality education goal more broadly for consideration by Ministry of Education, donors, NGOs and civil society.
The evaluation has attempted to:
- Identify the differences or changes that GEM has made to knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and policies in the education system, in communities and families, and in schools. It has looked at how people now understand, and how they are acting on, the problems all children face in accessing and persisting and successfully learning in school, with particular reference to how these impediments and actions are affecting girls.
- Analyze the facts (e.g. the inputs from GEM and the conditions surrounding its implementation) that appear to be influencing these results or changes, both negatively and positively, and the implications these might have for sustaining progress.
- Suggest issues and directions for further action and intervention in promoting gender equity and quality on the part of the Ministry of Education and the donor community, in the context of initiatives such as the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) and SWAP.
In addition to reviewing documents, the main methods of data collection for the evaluation were individual and group interviews: in Maputo, national Ministry of Education officers, donors and NGOs; in Quelimane, Zambezia (the principal pilot province for GEM), provincial education officers including GEM and PRONES (a related UNICEF-supported project) staff; in Mocuba and Nicoadala districts, district education officers; in two schools of each district - teachers, directors, students, parents and community leaders.
A feed back meeting was held in Zambézia with various NGOs, education officers including school and School Cluster directors, gender units/GEM and PRONES staff. Another feed back meeting was held at national level in Maputo involving all Ministry of Education directorates and donors' officers, and provided comments and future analysis on preliminary evaluation findings.
Key Findings and Conclusions
GEM is considered by most to have an important role in promoting the inclusion of a strong gender dimension in the ESSP, as well as subsequently more specific articulation in the gender action plan. The Ministry of Education has recently assigned a senior officer to review the ESSP in terms of its overlap with the EFA targets agreed by the Government in Dakar. Several donors of the gender theme group have been encouraging a stronger reference to gender within this process coupled with a commitment to subsequent funding.
Progress on the development of the Gender Unit in Mozambique is evident, but it is limited. On the positive side, there is evidence that Gender Unit staff are generating knowledge about, and statements of, commitment to gender equity throughout the system. This seems especially true at the provincial level (in Zambézia). Here, at least, gender unit staff seem to be recognized as players in the policy-advisory structure through their position in the basic education department of providing some input to the provincial education board. They are also active in promoting gender issues at district and the School Cluster levels, establishing gender units in a number of these.
Most basically, it has helped to remove - or at least begun to reduce - a number of barriers to inclusive education for vulnerable children. More visible on a cumulative basis than in terms of specific results of individual activities, GEM (in conjunction with PRONES) is enabling a progressive change in attitudes about the value of gender equity and knowledge about the difficulties children and girls, especially, face in attending school. Certainly, no one denied that girls and boys have an equal right to go to school and complete a basic education of good quality. More promising was the degree to which many appear to believe it.
Especially significant was the strength of this conviction expressed by parents and community leaders. Several commented that their eyes were now opened to the need to encourage their daughters' attendance; that they had reduced the amount of domestic work they gave their daughters and required more sharing of tasks between boys and girls. Parents are ultimately the principal determiners of whether their children enrol in school and, most significantly for girls, how regularly they turn up and how effectively they engage. Such expressions are, therefore, not insignificant. And, it is not insignificant that the gender-specific numbers are better: more girls appear to be enrolling; more women hired as teachers; more materials (albeit sent by UNICEF rather than MINED and still too few) reaching more children and being better used; more parents coming to school to talk about problems in the community and the school affecting their children's learning.
It is also clear, however, that much more needs to happen before these changes in knowledge, attitudes and numbers produce sustained progress toward realizing fully inclusive, good quality "education for all" - girls and boys. Most simply put, while the steps taken are achieving many of the "necessary" conditions for reaching EFA targets, they have not yet reached the point of being "sufficient" to ensuring them.
Quality and sustainability remain questions. Teachers are underpaid and under-trained. Most women teachers are not trained at all. It is critical that the system get a better knowledge of, and control over, what is actually happening in classrooms with respect to the nature and quality of interactions between children and teachers, and to the impact of these on what is learned, how well and by whom (e.g. whether girls are learning more or less than boys and in what areas). There are few concrete indications of any of these, however.
Observed by the evaluation and confirmed as fairly typical, teachers almost do not talk at all about the methods they use, the challenges they face or whether they vary their approaches to suit children's specific learning characteristics (including those influenced by gender). Nor, as far as the evaluation could find, is any classroom-based research being done to assess these most fundamental aspects of education quality. While better monitoring is being done of numbers repeating, dropping out and progressing to the next level, little is as yet being done to assess more complex learning outcomes.
It is, in fact, this qualitative "black box" concerning the education change process that is probably the most serious problem facing Mozambique's reform efforts at the present time, not just with respect to GEM and gender, but across all dimensions. The emphasis remains heavily on the quantitative targets of EFA, to get enrolment, female teachers and school construction figures up. There is no doubt that these are important goals, and pressures from the demand side are clearly there. The reality, however, is that the challenges facing poor families and schools to get children to schools are great. Unless these children can be made safe, remain healthy and actually learn something they can use to improve their life condition, they will not stay. In all of these, of course, girls are most at risk because being female makes all hurdles higher.
It is critical now for MINED and all of its partners to move ahead quickly and put these gains into more systemic terms; to undertake actions that will be substantive, comprehensive and wide-spread enough to be sustainable. Conducting one-off seminars, training a handful of school directors or providing materials to a few schools, though useful, are not sufficient to constitute a reformed child and girl-friendly education system.
Specific areas of suggested action:
- Undertake action to generate greater demand throughout the system for the participation of girls and women, for budgets to enable their inclusion, for laws to protect them, and for the knowledge and skills to provide gender-based programs and services;
- Use the principles and rallying language of EFA to generate broad public awareness and support of girls' education toward putting gender and equity more explicitly on the national agenda;
- Be proactive in using SWAP processes as much as possible to reinforce and facilitate collaboration among all actors: among MINED departments, including INDE and IAP; between these and institutions and agencies such as universities, technical schools, NGOs/associations, churches/religious and community groups; the private sector (nationwide and local); and among donors' programs themselves.
- Include in all pre-service and in?service teacher training, a more systematic and comprehensive coverage of: All aspects of gender-sensitive and child-centered pedagogy, including knowledge and skills in the diagnosis of children's learning strengths and gaps; how to tailor classroom management strategies and teaching methods to children's thinking; how to develop literacy, numeracy and scientific capacities in children, from simple to higher-order cognitive process; and facilitating children's skills in social interaction. For example, negotiating options, handling diversity, resolving conflicts and ways of creating and using locally-based teaching/learning material.
- Identify gender equity windows in the 20% localization of curriculum policy initiative, to ensure that local control over education and school issues maintains this policy direction, and can create and apply appropriately gender-sensitive actions, including in areas such as: the piloting of local language in the first three grades; and the development of flexible schedule to address the field and domestic responsibilities of many children.
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Education - Girls