A few years back, girls in Africa were not given equal opportunity to acquire formal education like the boys. It was not unusual to find many places in Africa where girls’ education was not promoted.
It was not until all the African governments stood up and fought for equal rights of girls’ education as well.This problem was common in rural areas where priority of education was given to the boys.
Most governments in Africa have now incorporated gender in their national education plans where deliberate effort is directed at eliminating the gender gap in access to education.
In Rwanda Access to basic education is no longer a problem for the Rwandan girl child. The government has deployed considerable efforts to promote girls to education.
Mobilization campaigns were carried out in the whole country.
The Development policy and the education policy in particular, insist on the intervention and on the role of a woman in socio-economic development.
It is for that reason that the girl is at the centre stage, especially as far as her education is concerned. Gender and education is given prominence in the Millennium Development goals (2020) as well as the Education for All Framework for Action (Dakar 2000).
Many initiatives have been undertaken towards achieving the education and gender goals. These include the UNICEF-led United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI), and the Africa Girls’ Initiative (AGEI).
Civil society has been in the forefront with programmes on advocacy for gender equality in education. Most education related international, regional and local NGOs operating in Africa have a component on gender and particularly girls’ education in their programmes.
Special mention goes to the Forum for African Women Educationalists, (FAWE), and a pan - African NGO which was established to deal specifically with the promotion of girls’ education in Sub Sahara Africa.
FAWE, through its chapters in 32 countries has undertaken various programmes related to influencing education policy, advocacy, and demonstrative interventions on what works in girls’ education and influencing the replication and mainstreaming of best practices.
From what has happened so far, it is safe to claim that the need for gender equality in development in general and in education in particular, is no longer an issue for debate.
There is a positive climate supporting the need for gender equality within most governments and especially ministries of education in the continent. This provides great potential for support at policy level for interventions in gender and education.
Out of the above-mentioned goodwill towards addressing gender in development, many interventions have been undertaken to address various gender constraints to education.
Beginning in 2000, FAWE introduced a programme where by the parents and community leaders worked together towards increasing enrolment of girls and eliminating early marriage.
Sensitizing parents, especially fathers, on the importance of girls’ education and the disadvantages of early marriage. Bringing parents together to analyze the status of girls’ education in their areas and the negative impact on the development of their areas.
A number of examples of best practices in improving girls’ education are cited as possible areas that could explore in its efforts to address gender in education in Africa.
In conclusion, it is necessary to remind the girls and women of this country that the challenge is now theirs. It is up to them to make an effort and use the chance they have been given.
“We are no longer in the era when the woman was confined in the kitchen and at home, at the service of our husbands who considered us as inferior. We are living in a scientific and technology age in which the woman plays the same role and has the same responsibility like her brother”.