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Engendering education

Despite the success of the Second Millennium Development Goal, fewer girls then boys are entering secondary and tertiary education. KIT Gender’s research and capacity development aims to highlight, understand and re-balance where these inequalities exist, to extend opportunities that education provides for both girls and boys.

Success but still further to go with MDG2

The Second Millennium Development Goal (MDG2) –  that children everywhere complete primary schooling –  has galvanised the global development community to expand the reach of formal education facilities. The evidence suggests that these efforts are proving successful. However, gender imbalances persist.

Whilst poverty and lack of affordable facilities can be highlighted, gender appears to be a persistent factor in causing drop outs. Through our research KIT Gender has attempted to understand how and why the gender of the person is in itself a barrier to accessing their right to education and what development institutions should be doing to address this problem.

Gender in education

Our work at the organisational level concerns gender issues and staff, organisational culture, as well as engagement with the educational system – curriculum, pedagogy and extra-curricular spheres such as infrastructure, counselling, social life and student welfare. We bring a gender analysis to make visible and explain inequities in enrolment, completion and transition as well as a rights analysis to understand what lies at the root of these rights failures.

Activities and practices in the classroom, in educational institutions and in the wider community are all interrelated. And they lay the foundation for the worldview of students, and provide instruction in modes of interacting for the future. Targeting and transforming education therefore lays the groundwork for a more equitable economy and society.

See our projects below for more information on how we do this.

Research in Action

Through a study using quantitative and qualitative data to assess current issues affecting girls’ access to and completion of lower secondary education in 9 countries, namely, Cambodia, El Salvador, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, KIT Gender found that poverty and the lack of educational facilities are not the only reasons for fewer girls than boys transitioning to the lower secondary stage. Using the KIT Gender Equality and Child’s Rights Framework to analyse the findings, we were able to show that:

  • households were more likely spend scarce resources to support boys than girls to continue;
  • gender roles determine to a large extent whether adolescent boys and girls will continue in school and thus a girl’s unpaid labour contribution for necessary but undervalued domestic tasks affects household decisions about investment in girls’ schooling;
  • many parents also worried about the sexual safety of girls once they reached adolescence; and
  • educational institutions, governments and global agencies do not recognise these underlying problems that affect girls’ transitions to other levels.

This research informed more gender aware planning in the education programme of Plan UK, the commissioning agency.

These lessons and the Gender Equality and Child Rights Framework have been used for other projects as for example in a study commissioned by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) to look into the state of children’s education in the east of the Ivory Coast among certified cocoa farming communities. The study shows the appalling state of education and that many children unable to go to school; that educational institutions are not reaching out to them; that certification systems do not recognise children’s education as an issue to be addressed, and that girls are least likely to transition to the secondary level. KIT Gender has presented these findings to WCF and is in dialogue to help WCF to respond.

The Gender Responsive Budgeting programme in Erbil Iraq is in a setting where gender parity at the primary level has been reached and many boys and girls are in secondary. The problem for girls is continuation to higher levels. Through the programme government policy makers are being made aware of these problems and shown how budgets can respond to provide the resources to research and correct them.