Ugandan Girls still Marginalized in Schools due to Poor Attitudes and Traditions

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Women activisits have complained that the education system in Uganda, particularly in primary and secondary school, is still not favorable to girls, 14 years after gender equality was enshrined in the Constitution. The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) conducted a survey that revealed that teachers still have a bias towards the instruction of girls. It found that the teachers believe girls to be slow learners and so they do not pay as much attention to them in class as they do to boys. Dorothy Muhumure, the manager of FAWE in Uganda, says this attitude is part of a long list of reasons why girls continue to lag behind boys in school performance. She says her organization is working to change this by training teachers in gender responsiveness, instructing them on how to treat both boys and girls equally. Muhumure admits that it is a struggle to change the mindsets of teachers and parents regarding the intellectual abilities of girls. She says that although more and more schools are actively challenging girls to perform better in class, schools in rural Uganda continue to neglect girls, particularly where study of science subjects is concerned. //Cue in: iIt is still the same #i Cue out: i# not favoring the girls.i// In 2001 the Government of Uganda launched the Girls' Education Movement to address barriers to gender equality in the education sector. It also committed itself to the Millennium Challenge Goal of achieving universal primary education and eliminating gender disparities at all levels of education by 2015. Fatuma Wamala, chairperson of the Girls' Education Movement, says that eight years down the road, the challenge to ensuring more access of education for girls is still a big problem. She says the movement has only realized half its goals because of basic societal biases regarding spending money and time on educating girls. //Cue in: iThe value that #i Cue out: i# by society.i// Wamala anticipates that empowering girls will take much longer than expected because of deep set traditions. She says the only way to address this is to take awareness of gender equality in education out of the class and into the community. Dorothy Muhumure of FAWE concurs with this approach. She says the Forum for African Women Educationalists now works with communities, helping them to draw up achievable action plans for improvement. She says implementation of the action plans are monitored diligently to ensure tangible, measurable change in educating girls. //Cue in: iWe want the community #i Cue out: i# to be a change.i//

 

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