|Only 29 females out of 527
What is the problem?
By Kidane Eyob, 26 Aug 2003
Shabait.comreported on 4th August 2003 ‘T.T.I Graduates tenth batch of teachers’. In this news report I was very disappointed to learn that out of 527 graduates of the Teachers Training Institute (T.T.I.) there are only 29 females. The problem is therefore inequality between men and women in higher education and therefore employment.
This is a great loss to Eritrea for failing to benefit from the full participation of the greater percentage of its human resources in nation building. This is also morally, socially and politically unacceptable by any standard in the 21st century.
As we all may remember, during the liberation struggle for independence, 30% of EPLF freedom fighters were women. After 12 years of independence, one would normally expect to see the inequality gap between men and women to narrow down to a more acceptable figure, say 60% men, 40% women, in higher education and employment.
By 2011 the percentages should be in equilibrium with women exceeding in some sectors of industry. For example, within the teaching and healthcare professions I would normally expect the population of females to exceed that of males. But it seems exactly the opposite development has taken place at least as far as the T.T.I graduates male to female ratio is concerned.
When we should be speeding up in ‘4th gear’ to ensure equality between men and women, instead we have shifted into reverse gear!
What are the solutions and what can the GOE, MOE, the Women’s and Youth Associations and caring individuals do to professionally and comprehensively address this unjust inequality between men and women in higher education and employment?
As a caring Eritrean and not as an expert, I will attempt to highlight the problem and suggest solutions which may help alleviate some of the existing inequalities between men and women.
However, before attempting to discuss the possible solutions to the problem, it’s crucial that the main causes to the problem is identified.
In my opinion, the main causes to the problem of inequality in higher education and particularly in the case of T.T.I. recruits are as follows: -
What are the solutions to this problem?
In my opinion the following solutions could help us alleviate the aforementioned causes of inequality in higher education respectively.
The pay and working hours are even worse in Eritrea.
We review and change the academic calendar year, working hours and pay. I suggest three terms of three months duration with two weeks break in between (around New Year and early April) and a shorter summer holiday of about 8 weeks during July and August. Working hours to be from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (with an hour lunch break) instead of 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. Morning shift of students from 8:00 am to 12:00 and afternoon shift from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Five lessons of 45 min. each with 15 min break in between.
Review pay annually and provide free housing to those teachers who are prepared to teach in the remote regions of the country. Finally establish a joint contribution pension scheme for all teachers and MOE professionals as well as allowing flexible and sufficient maternity and paternity leaves.
Use a common language of instruction - Eritrea and South Africa are the two countries in Africa experimenting with mother tongue elementary education as recommended by some experts in education and child psychology.
Recruiting teachers in all the nine national languages in Eritrea can be very challenging indeed especially if most of the population in the remote rural areas has been denied education for the last several decades. The training of teachers in all the nine languages can also be very demanding and very expensive compared to a common language of instruction in a country.
I suggest we abolish mother tongue education and use English as a language of instruction in elementary schools just as we currently do from junior secondary (6th grade) to university education and teach mother tongue as a subject with Tigrinya and Arabic being compulsory subjects for all.
I am certain Eritrean experts in education systems and curriculum and those in the teaching profession who are either keeping low profile or only writing about politics could write more comprehensive articles with possible effective solutions which will benefit the professionals in the MOE and influence those in authority to carry out the appropriate reform of our education system. An education reform which will raise the standard of education, guarantee equal opportunity, speedup the reconstruction process, enhance social justice and ensure an improvement to the standard of living of our people.
My next article part 8 in the series of ‘Reform the Education System to 184.108.40.206.4’ will be posted in September and will be about university education system particularly 1st year university and how we could reform it to enhance the existing system.
Glory To Our Martyrs
Victory To The Masses.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Kidane Eyob, who is solely responsible for the contents of this page, contributes the above article. For any comments, the writer can be contacted by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org