Gender and Education: Tackling the Challenges to Girl-child Education in Kenya

Education of girls is essential in the drive by nations to achieve the Millennium Development Goals .Although the education policy of most African countries do not discriminate against girls and women, there is a serious gender disparity in enrolment and transition form one level to the next, especially in rural Africa.

Many girls hardly get the right/relevant type of education that would make them overcome the social, cultural and health challenges .Hardly does the education system help them realize their full potential and prepare them on the path of being active global citizens .How then should Africa tackle these challenges to girl child education?

Like in many parts of Africa, the challenges to girl-child in Kenya are varied. While some might lead to drop out; others affect the quality of learning, leaving most girls with education that is hardly useful in a very fast paced and complex society

Of vital importance is building the capacity of female teachers and education officers with the skills and uptitude to make them comfortable tackilng thre real challenges to the education of girls.Teachers interact with many students on daily basis and spend a total of nine months (9) a year with the pupils, thus the need to be adequately endowed with information.

The 21st century teacher needs to provide the learners with innovative learning experiences. Staying stay ahead in Digital literacy which equips them with appropriate productivity skills and adoption of digital lifestyles will foster the right attitude to support and sustain changes in service delivery and governance.

Information communication technology (ICT) not only holds the keys to revolutionize pedagogical methods and expand and access to quality education but also has the key to unlock the doors to a myriad of social problems and the embracing of result based management of education systems. It is on this premise that the Innovative Women Teachers(IWT) program (that I co-ordinate as a project officer) by the African Centre for Women ICT is based
Below is the IWT concept note .

Concept Note

PROGRAM TITLE: INNOVATIVE WOMEN TEACHERS PROGRAMME:
“An empowerment programme for women teachers and the Girl-Child”

Microsoft through the Partners in Learning Program has partnered Ministry of Education - Kenya, and African Centre for Women in ICT (ACWICT) and other stakeholders to transform education through the use of ICT in Education, specifically to build the capacity of women teachers in ICT while at the same time addressing the Girl Child issues.

Partners in Learning (PiL) “Transforming Education”
Microsoft Partners in Learning (PiL) initiative supports the dual commitment by Microsoft to advance the quality of education and provide alternative channels for economic progress. By building partnerships with governments and schools around the globe, Partners in Learning works to integrate technology into daily teaching, learning, and research.

Key programs areas that help educators employ technology throughout the learning process, and enable students to achieve their learning goals:

1. Innovative Schools
delivers expert guidance in holistic school reform, plus a roadmap for technology integration to help schools meet their education objectives.

2. Innovative Teachers
Connects a global community of educators focused on 21st century learning and recognizes their exemplary efforts to prepare students for the future.

3. Innovative Students
Works with students to increase their capacity and interest to use technology as a learning tool.

4. Policy & Access Works with policy makers, education leaders to formulate, review relevant and appropriate policies and strategies that support ICT in Education. Also create and raise awareness and facilitate capacity building for leaders to appreciate ICT in education

Summary of Action
As part of its commitment to transforming education using technology, Microsoft through its Partners in learning global program will roll out a 5-year programme that will improve the professional practice of women teachers in Kenya. The programme targets women teachers in public primary and secondary schools in Kenya. It will equip the teachers with the requisite ICT skills that they will integrate in their subject teaching to improve learning outcomes among learners in their classrooms while at the same time addressing issues around “the Girl Child”.

The skills will also enable the women teachers to access knowledge and information on girl child Potential and utilise these to empower the girl child to realise her human Potential. Technology is therefore going to be an enabler in this 2-tier transformation model targeting the woman teacher and the girl child.

Relevance
1. A number of studies in Kenya recognise that the environments and interactions that most influence children’s welfare and their enjoyment of human Potential or otherwise, are built around the family unit and the school (ANPPCAN Kenya, 2005; CRADLE, 2003). This programme will aim at empowering the girl child to realise her Potential at school. It will also examine ways in which girl child support systems involving the family can be created, particularly through established networks like the Parents Teachers Associations.

2. This programme is in tandem with the ICT Strategy for Education and Training, and also KESSEP, both of which seek to promote integration of ICT in teacher education.

3. Microsoft recognises that the woman teacher is pivotal to the realisation of the programme objectives. She is likely to have, in the first instance, undergone, in one form or the other, the discrimination and violence that the girl child faces.
The female teacher is therefore an ideal role model of a success story whose experiences the girl child will benefit from. According to UNICEF, there is need to involve female teachers in training and capacity building to develop patterns of support and understanding of the challenges that girl children face both within and outside the school setting. Women teachers are considered particularly valuable and with proper training and motivation, can serve as positive mentors from within the community (UNICEF, 2006).

Secondly, the woman teacher in the rural setting literally lives with the girl child on a daily basis. She is therefore better placed to understand and address the realities around the girl child.

Lastly, in most organised groupings in the rural areas, women teachers tend to be the ones that provide various forms of leadership. They are therefore crucial opinion leaders who will act as change agents towards the realisation of the programme objectives.


Methodology
1. The ICT skills course will be based on the customised Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum. This will be integrated with the appropriate girl child content to create an activity based, reflective training resource for the women teachers.

2. The programme will adopt a phased implementation approach in the 210 constituencies in Kenya. A total of 150,000 women teachers will be trained in the next five years. This will translate to 3000 teachers trained at the end of each year, which approximates to 15000+ in 5 years. The programme begins with the Training of Trainers in August and October 2008, who will then train the first batch of 1200women teachers from 5 select districts in August 2008.

3.In each of the 8 provinces, a lighthouse school will be identified, a network of teachers will be formed, and student ICT clubs will be facilitated. Relevant components of Microsoft’s Innovative Schools, Innovative Teachers, and Innovative Students will be incorporated in the design, structure and content of the initiative.

4.The implementation agency will be the Africa Centre for Women in ICT (ACWICT). Various stakeholders who will contribute to the programme logistics, infrastructure, content and other resources. They will include but not limited to:
• The Ministry of Education (MOEST)
• Microsoft East and Sothern Africa Ltd(MESA)
• The Kenya Institute of Education(KIE)
•Teachers Service Commission (TSC)
• The CRADLE
• Afri-Afya.
• Girl Child Network
• Any other stake holder


References
ANPPCAN Kenya (2005) From Physical Punishment to Positive Discipline: Alternatives to Physical / Corporal Punishment in Kenya.

CRADLE (2003) Promoting Justice for Children

UNICEF (2006) Elimination of all Forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child: Report of the Expert Group Meeting

Ministry of Education (2006) National ICT Strategy for Education and Training. Republic of Kenya

Ministry of Education (2005) Kenya Education Support Programme 2005 – 2010. Republic of Kenya

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Comment by Lois McGill-Horn on February 12, 2009 at 20:34
I'd love to help with this. I teach at an all girls schools so issues related to empowering women and children around the world is what is important to me and to my students.
I also have extensive knowledge of the PIL program as I developed all the training materials for the teachers in the Microsoft sessions in Canada. I am also a Microsoft Innovative teacher, having just returned from the WorldWide conference in Hong Kong, so am very familiar with Microsoft's mandate and their dedication to teacher training.
I would love to chat further.
Lois
Comment by Dan Andrew Otedo on February 1, 2009 at 15:29
We are definately going to work withTWB-C on this once we have the bits and pieces tied together with Kelly
Comment by Sharon Peters on February 1, 2009 at 14:51
How can TWB participate in this exciting initiative? My background is in educational technology and I teach computer studies as well as English to high school students.

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