Madagascar: FAWE’s Centre of Excellence model for keeping girls in school

Date: October 14, 2012
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A Forum for African Women Educationalists – Madagascar Chapter (FAWE)’s Centre of Excellence initiative is a school where gender is integrated into the academic curricula, social and physical education programmes. The Forum enrolled Lycée Imerintsiatosika School in Madagascar as a Centre for Excellence for Gender in Education.

The integration of gender in schools is part of FAWE’s 2008-2012 strategic plan. This programme means that FAWE has a number of interventions meant to find solutions to gender- related constraints at school and in the community at large.

The setting up of FAWE Centres for Excellence is an example of the practical application of Article 14 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development on Education and Training on promoting gender equality in education. The project is in line with Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 2 on achieving universal primary education and MDG 3 on promoting gender equality and empowerment of women.

Research has shown that there are many challenges and risks related to education and training of young girls in Madagascar that have informed FAWE’s strategic plan:

  • A high rate of school leavers among girls due to (i) getting pregnant especially for those who live alone, (ii) they live too far away from their schools and (iii) because of insecurity.
  • Predominance of patriarchal values and attitudes at school and in the community.
  • Gender is not integrated in the general teaching-learning process.
  • Promoting gender equality not a core value in the educational environment resulting in that boys and male teachers do not respect or recognise girls’ and womens’ rights because they have not been taught to do so.
  • Girls have been brought up to accept the situation and be passive to any injustice they might feel is taking place. They cannot challenge the status quo.
  • The community at large neither believes in nor supports gender equality.
  • Teachers are not trained in gender education and this increases inequality at school.

Some of the initiatives that have been taken through this project to mobilise communities around the school include: sensitising and holding training workshops for parents through the ‘Eloles de Parents’ (a parents’ school). The project also targets parents whose children do not attend the targeted schools- or do not attend school at all.

The initiative also targets girls who come from poor families and who do well at school and obtain an average of 65%. The assistance includes donation of school equipment, school uniform, sanitary pads and remedial courses in Science, Maths and Information Technology (IT). Young girls are empowered by the setting up of clubs to them voice in order for them to be heard.

There are tangible results beginning to emerge from this project. No one dropped out of school in 2011. Absenteeism of girls reduced with more girls taking part in regional sports tournaments and in games such as football and basketball.

Girls are showing greater self-confidence and can express themselves better. In this particular school, there are now separate toilets for girls, boys and teachers. A higher number of women has joined the management of the schools. For instance, there is a headmistress for the school year in 2011-2012.

Many groups have benefited from the programme including students, teachers, non- teaching staff as well as the head of the school, parents, the surrounding community and village at large.

Participation of all stakeholders in this programme will ensure that it is sustainable. A committee of representatives of the school (teachers, parents, students, non-academic staff) as well as local elected representatives, local representatives of the ministry of education, members of the civil society including FAWE Madagascar, has been set up to elaborate a work plan, the realisation of the projects as well as the monitoring of the activities.

Moving forward there are plans to conduct gender training for teachers; advocacy at the ministry of education and other sponsors to improve the infrastructure of the schools (teaching classes, the canteen, the library, the sickbay, furniture for the classes and install internet access among others.

FAWE would like to replicate what has been achieved at Lycée Rabemananjara in Toamasina in Lycée Ambohitrimanjaka, CEG Ambohimanambola and at EPP La Vigerie Á  Diégo. The Ministry of Education has acknowledged that the setting up of Centres for Excellence is essential to universal access to education and in particular, it is a good strategy to improve girls’ retention in school.

There is scope to extend the project to other SADC countries where FAWE country chapters already exist.



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