Fw: Africa America Institute African Perspectives Math and Science Online discussion 2003
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From: John Kiwanuka Ssemakula <jssemakula@...>
To: jkiwanuka@... <jkiwanuka@...>
Date: Monday, May 12, 2003 10:48 AM
Subject: Africa America Institute African Perspectives Math and Science Online discussion 2003
Math and Science in Africa
The Africa-America Institute (AAI) - African Perspectives 2003 Of Math And Science Education In Africa Online Discussion Brief is now open. We are exploring the question “How can African education systems best teach Math & Science today and at the same time increase enrolment and participation by girls in school in these and other subjects?” Here is some additional information about the subject at hand:
Additional Background reading and examples:
The FEMSA Project - Female Education in Mathematics and Science in Africa
"Promoting the Participation and Performance of Girls in Science, Mathematics and Technology (SMT) subjects"
The Female Education in Mathematics and Science in Africa (FEMSA) Project is a project of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) Working Group on Female Participation and is hosted by the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE).
FEMSA aims at improving the participation and performance of girls in Science, Mathematics and Technical (SMT) subjects at the primary and secondary school levels.
The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE)
The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) was created in 1992 as a response to the slow pace of implementation of Education for All goals in sub-Saharan Africa. FAWE was registered in Kenya as a pan African NGO in 1993 with a Secretariat in Nairobi. Since then, it has grown into a network of 33 National Chapters with a wide range of Membership that includes women policy makers and male ministers of education who are associate members.
FAWE seeks to ensure that girls have access to school, complete their studies and perform well at all levels.
USAID/ Uganda - Success Stories
The Teacher Development and Management System
In the 1960s, Uganda had one of the best education systems in Africa. However, the political upheavals and economic mismanagement of the 1970s and early 1980s wreaked havoc on the education sector. Infrastructure was destroyed, materials were not available, and resources were diverted. Teachers were poorly trained or not trained at all and had neither career prospects nor incentives. Many had left the teaching profession and joined the private sector. Teachers in the rural areas moved to urban centers in search of better pay. School management was left in the hands of head teachers, who lacked management skills. The teacher-training curriculum was outdated, and many school-aged children were out of school.
When relative stability returned to Uganda in the late 1980s, revitalization of the education sector became a priority. With a conducive policy environment and political will from the government, reform focused on examination and curriculum, textbook supply, financial resource flows, and, most importantly, teacher recruitment, training and retention.
USAID/Uganda has been a leading partner in primary education reform in Uganda, and a central part of USAID's program is support to the Teacher Development and Management System(TDMS). TDMS is an innovative program for quality enhancement in the primary education sector. The TDMS strategy has decentralized teacher-training activities from the traditional pre-service fixed-site primary teacher's colleges (PTC) to the peri-urban and rural villages. Central to TDMS are the coordinating center tutors (CCT). Currently, there are 549 tutors nationally in the 56 districts. Tutors are "teacher- roving trainers" in that they are responsible for the support of a cluster of schools in their respective catchement areas. On average, tutors work with 20-25 primary schools. In addition to training the teachers, USAID funds were used to establish 549 learning resource centers throughout the country. The teachers are now using these centers to meet with their tutors and for developing teaching aids using locally available materials.
In addition to supporting the professional development of classroom teachers, TDMS has also enhanced the management, leadership, and oversight skills of over 20,000 head teachers and school inspectors. Community mobilization training sessions, involving parents and community leaders, have enabled parents, students and community members as well as teachers to better understand why basic education is important for both girls and boys and how they can help their children achieve.
USAID support has upgraded the teaching skills and improved the classroom performance of almost 100,000 primary school teachers, head teachers, and inspectors. Both class performance and individual performance on national examinations have begun to improve, according to the most recent Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) results. In addition, attrition among teachers has decreased and teachers are finding the teaching profession attractive again.
One beneficiary said: "I am a mother with four children, and I cannot manage the fees for pre-service. Now, I am in my last year here in the PTC, after three long years of work. Sometimes I was thinking I cannot make it but my CCT would encourage me. I find math hard but I can make it to pass. I am even bringing my one-year-old to PTC residentials so my big girl is the babysitter as I read. I think TDMS is the best for those of us from deep in the village who cannot afford other ways."
Boosting African science through academies - 8 Sep 2001
Third World Academy of Sciences – www.scidev.net
Both well-trained scientists and strong scientific institutions are in short supply in Africa.
Only nine of the continent’s 53 nations have science academies, despite the fact that the development of science is seen by many as a vital way for Africa to improve its well-being.
An InterAcademy Panel workshop held in Trieste in May 2001 addressed ways to strengthen science academies in Africa; to spur the creation of academies in nations where there are enough scientists to support an academy; and to pursue alternative strategies — for example the creation of science associations or regional academies — among African nations with too few scientists for a national academy to succeed.
Source: Third World Academy of Sciences
Kenyan women hit out at male hold on science
David Karanja -www.scidev.net
Date posted: 26 Mar 2003
[NAIROBI (PANOS)] What are boys and girls made of? According to the nursery rhyme, sticks and stones and puppy dog tails [boys]; sugar and spice and everything nice [girls].
And “nice” Kenyan girls don’t study engineering. Like Peninah Wanjira, who finished among the top five students in her secondary school. She wanted to be an engineer, but her headmaster prevented her from specialising in science. Too difficult, he told her. Boys whom she consistently outperformed took her place.
“I will never forgive him. He killed my dream,” Wanjira, a sociology graduate currently working as a clerk in Nairobi, says bitterly. “Look at what I do: signing and stapling forms all day.”
Fortunately, Kiriri Women’s University of Science and Technology (KWUST), which opened in September 2002, is challenging generations of gender stereotyping and an entrenched culture that favours males at all levels of education.
Offering degrees in computer science and mathematics, the Nairobi-based private university admits 90 students annually who must meet steep fees of US$1,220 per term. It emphasises practical skills and research and aims to bridge the gender gap in science and technology.
“We have opted for technological courses because they are the building blocks for development,” explains KWUST vice chancellor, Professor Rosalind Mutua. The university hopes to add engineering and medicine to its curricula in the future.
A recent World Bank report, Constructing Knowledge Societies; New Challenges for Tertiary Education, warns that poor countries cannot boost economic growth, reduce poverty and build equitable societies without closing the educational divide — particularly at the university levels — between themselves and wealthier countries.
In Kenyan universities women make up little more than a fifth of the total student population — mostly clustered in liberal arts studies — reflecting a gender gap widened by dropouts through primary and secondary years. At Jomo Kenyatta College of Agriculture and Technology, the only university in Kenya specialising in scientific courses, women make up only 14% of students.
Government figures indicate that while 63% of girls of school-going age enrol every year, only a third complete primary school, compared to half of enrolled boys. Experts say the reality for girls is likely to be worse.
The Ministry of Education attributes the gender disparity in schools to early pregnancies — 45 per cent of teenage girls become mothers by the age of 19 — forced or early marriage, a heavier domestic workload for daughters, and son preference in some communities.
Sexism, whether conscious or not, also influences family decisions to keep girls out of school and produces a girl- unfriendly learning environment at home and in the wider community, according to Kenyan researchers Dr Wangoi Njau and Dr Sheila Wamahiu.
Many parents do support education for girls; but sexual violence by some male secondary students — and some teachers [demanding sex for grades] — against young women has also led to girls being withdrawn from school by parents fearing rape, unwanted pregnancy and HIV infection.
Sexism also plagues Kenya’s institutions of higher learning. “Sexual harassment in universities became a big problem when the government introduced self-financing in the 1990s,” acknowledges Mutua. Soaring tuition and boarding fees, coupled with decreases in scholarships and student loans, leave some female students, particularly from low income families, “vulnerable to abuse in their struggle for survival,” she says.
Female university students have been forced to trade sexual favours for financial support from older men, from single, affluent male students and from lecturers.
Kenyatta University was the first institution to publicly acknowledge the problem in 1993, when it convened a committee to investigate complaints of sexual harassment. In 1998, after two students were raped, a second investigation resulted in the appointment of a female Deputy Director of Student Affairs. Female guards and halls’ janitors were also hired.
There have been some victories. In 1999, a ‘sex for marks scandal’ erupted at Egerton University after female students gave authorities names of lecturers who demanded sexual favours for passing grades. Six lecturers were suspended.
The government has welcomed the establishment of KWUST. “There is need to encourage more women to enrol in these disciplines to increase their employment opportunities and enhance their participation in the country’s development,” Minister for Science and Technology Gideon Ndambuki asserts.
But increasing female enrolment in tertiary education requires keeping girls in school in the lower grades. A recent parliamentary bill making primary education [grades 1-8] free and compulsory should help reverse the drop out rate among girls.
Kenya is not unique in wanting to get — and keep — women in the sciences. In Britain, according to a 2002 government report, there are 50,000 women science, engineering and technology graduates not working in their respective fields at any one time.
A subsequent report by Susan Greenfield, Oxford University professor of pharmacology and director of the Royal Institution, which specialises in scientific education, highlighted bullying, isolation, low research budgets, family unfriendly policies and lack of support for those returning from maternity leave as difficulties encountered by women choosing scientific careers.
Greenfield said that although women scientists have gone “beyond the bottom-pinching stage” they still face “institutionally sexist” attitudes.
In Kenya not everyone has signed up to the idea of a women-only university such as KWUST. Some male university students see it as a ‘feminist attempt’ to shield women from fair academic competition, while others argue that gender seclusion is the wrong way to deal with sexual harassment.
“I agree there is sexual harassment in our universities. But I think attention should be focussed on stamping it out rather than creating special institutions for women,” says Peter Mwenda, a second year student at Maseno University. “You don’t solve a problem by running away from it.”
Prospective students of the new university, however, are thrilled with the opportunity to pursue their specialised higher education.
Nancy Wanja, who plans to study computer science, says she had enrolled for a diploma at Kenya Polytechnic but pulled out to study at KWUST.
“Now I will be able to have a degree. After I acquire my B.Sc., I plan to go for a masters elsewhere and then become a university lecturer,” Wanja says confidently.
The African Perspectives Project forum is part of our continuing effort to reach out to and engage AAI alumni and supporters in the United States and Africa in dialogue about the important issues of US-Africa relations.
We believe you will find the online discussion a valuable way to share your experiences, observations and opinions and to learn about those of other Africans. You will be able to participate entirely via email, but will also be able to access message archives and other special features online through the discussion web page:
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Dr John Kiwanuka Ssemakula
The Africa-America Institute
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