/The Causes of Illeteracy of Girls in Sénégal – Alhassane Faty

The Causes of Illeteracy of Girls in Sénégal – Alhassane Faty

Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (UCAD) – SENEGAL

This article is devoted to young girls from Senegal, who constitute a disadvantaged group in terms of education, by shedding light on the reasons for both their absences and their failures. The problem of girls’ education is complex, which is why an analysis of the factors of female dropout is necessary for a thorough diagnosis of their situation.

Girls around the world and specially in developing countries continue to be unfairly discriminated against on the basis of their gender girls.

Even thought the fight against dropping out of school has intensified in senegalese schools in recent years, the picture remains very different depending on gender.

The aim of education is not only to occupy a place in society and to participate in the development of one’s country, it shapes the actors in the acceptanc of inequalities through the formation of habitus, a „system of durable dispositions“ which is given in the process of socialization.

One can postulate, following several studies and research, that for a sustained development of the African countries in particular. It is more „profitable“ to invest in the education, the literacy, the training of the women, who, as housewives.

Thus better contribute to the socio- cultural development of their descendants and from a double observation (although constituting more than 50% of the senegalese population. Women are only literate 19% when only 40.7% of girls go to elementary school and 10% go to secondary), the existence of glaring disparities in the under-education of girls according to the regions of the country.

The study deciphers the most determining factors of the phenomenon and analyzes the mechanisms that risk perpetuating this handicap. The hypothesis adopted is that the under-education of girls in Senegal results, to a large extent, from a „predisposition“, from an anequal logic between men and women, which is still very significant in rural areas in particular and that the current crisis of the school strengthens notably.

In other words, strategies adopted to deal wih the poor performance of the school system end up having negative effects on increasing the enrollment rate for women.

Several socioeconomic indicators tend to prove that the senegalese women, despite her numerical importance in the global population and the central position which is hers in the family as an „interior“ (private) space, as opposed to „exterior“, to the public, occupies a relatively less privileged position.

In fact, in economic activity, women are still relegated to non-preponderant positions, for example in the pretty trade of the so-called informal sector, even if they also generate increasingly significant income thanks in particular to Female the Promotion Groups(GPF).

In the politico-administrative space, although the official discourse refers to the weight of women in Senegalese society, this does not translate into the existence of such pressure groups; women are confined to the periphery of governing bodies at both political party and state level.

If, in Senegal, school bullying, that is to say harassment peers in schools, in the form of „ordinary“ school violence mainly affects boys in accordance with the trend observed at the international level, there is at least one area where girls are overexposed, it is domination violence.

What we designate under the term „sexual violence“, and which goes far beyond mere sexual, brutal and aggressive violence, remains one of the specificities of school victimization in Africa due to its scale here and there.

This unfavorable situation can only militate against an investment in education for the benefit of young girls on the part of populations, especially rural, where the more or less negative image of the extroverted colonial school remains relatively strong. In other words, since the socio-economic benefits of girls‘ education are much lower than its costs. Overall demand tends to fall.

Thus, since 1988, the admission rate for girls in the first year of elementary school has decreased at a rate of 4.03 per year, going from 37.5% in 1988 to 35.7% in 1991.

I) The Concept of Gender
Today, the concept of gender constitutes a major framework for analyzing school issues. It is inspired by the idea that women in general. Girls in the school sphere in particular are victims of discrimination based on their sex.

Gender analysis is an instrument by which it is possible to better understand the differences between the two sexes related to living conditions, needs, participation, access to and possession of resources, Access and participation in development as well as in decision-making and in the different roles attributed to women and men. It helps to identify the root causes of structural inequality between the sexes.

The analysis covers the representations and stereotypes conveyed in a given society as well as the practices and behaviors in the different spheres of this society and is an extension of the work of Nicole-Claude Mathieu and, among other authors, by Paola Tabet (1998) with „The Social Construction of Gender Inequality : Tools and Bodies„, published by Harmattan, de Delphy, Ch., (1998).

The main enemy: political economy of the patriarchy, Paris: Syllepse, by Susanne Basow (1986 and 1992) with respectively „Gender stereotypes: traditions and alternatives“ and „Gender: stereotypes and roles„, translated into French and published by Broché. Ultimately, it is the respective responsibilities of societies and their schools that are evaluated.

By „ordinary“ school violence we mean microviolence of a physical or moral nature caused by pupils and of which other pupils are victims such as theft, racketeering, insults, threats, throwing stones.

By „macroviolence“ we mean physical and moral attacks that are built in a relationship of domination and / or oppression and whose consequences on the victim are independent of their repetition. This is the case with certain forms of corporal punishment, but above all with sexual violence practiced in schools.

The principle of respect for human rights including equal rights for women and men, is one of the essential pilliars of the senegalese constitutional order.

Senegal, in its 2001 constitution went further than the principle of the primacy of conventions and treaties regularly ratified and published over the laws, by integrating into the preambule of this fundamental law, the conventions on human rights adopted within the african Union of the UN and ratified by the state.

Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but also essential for accelerating sustainable development. Empowering women and girls has been proven over and over again to have a multiplier effect and help boost economic growth and development in all areas.

Women now represent 41% of paid workers outside agriculture, up from 35% in 1990.

The sustainable Development Goals aim to build on these achievements to ensure that discrimination against The Causes of Illeteracy of Girls in Sénégal PoliTeknik United Page: 17 PoliTeknik United SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER | Edition: Nr. 3 SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER | Edition: Nr. 3 Alhassane Faty Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (UCAD) – SENEGAL women and girls ends everywhere. The labor market still presents enormous inequalities. In some regions, are systematically denied equal access to jobs. Sexual violence and exploitation, the unequal distribution of unpaid domestic tasks, as well as discrimination in the performance of public functions, continue to constitute major obstacles.

Today, the number of women in public office is higher than ever before, this trend should be continued as more women in decision-making positions will help strengthen policies and legislation in favor of greater equality of women sexes.

II) A Real Policy for the Promotion of Women in the Administrative Hierarchy
Despite exceptions, the sectorial segregation of women persists arouund the world. It is not limited to public administration or to developing countries. According to a 2006 article in the United States: „Being female not only affects the types of jobs women choose, but also the types of organizations they work for. The stereotype of the foster woman translates into a strong presence of women in organizations that provide services such as education and social services.“ (iknowpolitics.org)

The government of Senegal is aware of the issue of the role of women in achieving the country’s development objectives. It has ratified almost all international conventions in favor of women. Various reforms have been put in place to improve the legal status and its political participation.

The senegalese constitution of 2001 reinforced the principles of gender equality and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and since 2010, article 7 in the book by professor Fatou Sarr and Dr Alpha Wade, entitled National Evaluation of Gender Equality and the knowledge society in Senegal, states that „All human beings are equal before the law. Men and women have equal rights“ (SARR, 2017, p13)

Several socioeconomic indicators tend to prove that the Senegalese woman, despite her numerical importance in the global population and the central position which is hers in the family as an „interior“ (private) space, as opposed to ‘‘outside’’, to public, occupies a relatively less priveleged place.

In fact, n economic activity, women are still relegated to non-preponderant positions, for example in small businesses in the so-called informal sector, even if they also generate increasingly significant income thanks in particular to the Groups for Promotion of Women (GPF)

However, The dropout rate from Introductory course to Middle Course is higher for girls than for boys. Clearly, the former take longer to complete the cycle, if they are not excluded or if they do not give up, or rather „withdrawn“.

Ultimately, this results in the girls not registering. However, these are quite successful when they are in suitable conditions, especially when they are not overwhelmed by extracurricular demands such as housework.

Several indicators, such as the deficit in teaching materials and school furniture, not to mention the excessive numbers in urban areas, clearly show the poor performance or underperformance of the system at the elementary level. If moreover, we know:

a) that the current programs take little account of the specifities of women, that is to say that in relation to certain values in the environment the demand is far from being satisfied by the educational institution;
b) that rhe image of women is far from being valued in the textbooks in use;
c) that school fees for girls entering middle school are becoming exorbitant forr many parents;
d) that certain administrative provisions such as the draconian regulations
on child pregnancies are inhibing;
e) that there is no real policy for the advancement of women in the administrative hierarchy

There are women are very dependent on their husbands, they have no responsibility. Financial resources available to increase the number of girls in school in relation to the objectives adopted on the one hand by the Jomtien conference and the World Summit for Children, on the other hand by the sectoral policy letter on education adopted by Senegal.

It seems wiser to operate in a circumscribed space and in depth, instead of a large scale policy whose results would have little impact. Such an option, if it is judiciously implemented, could make it possible to reach, in the twenty(20) departments where the rate of schooling for girls is the lowest, a „critical mass“ to hope to establish inerversibly.

The reflex to send little girls to school on the one hand, and on the other hand to give them the maximum chance of success to trigger a phenomenon of ‘‘oil stain’’ which will develop, will extend if the populations and beneficiaries note that the education of girls generates socially profitable „out put“.

The women movement’s and a widespread network of non-government organisations which have strong grass-roots presence and deep insight into women’s concerns have contributed in inspiring initiatives for the empowerment of women.

Legal judicial system must be made more responsive and gender sensitive to women’s needs, especially in cases of domestic violence and personal assault. New laws must be enacted and existing laws reviewing to ensure that justice is quick and punishment meted out to the culprits is commensurate with the severity of the offense.

III) Barriers to girls’ Education To think about what could be done
to strengthen educational opportunities for adolescent girls, we need to understand the obstacles that stand in their way. Parents questioned on the reasons for their daughters dropping out of school often cite questions of money (school fees and renunciation costs), early marriages and pregnancies, insufficient learning at school and a loss of interest in children studies.

The respective importance of these different factors may vary from country to country, but in most cases (and if this is not explicitly reflected in the parents’ responses) the social norms and roles assigned to each gender also affect girl’s ability to continue their education.

Girls from the poorest and rural households face the greatest disadvantages because parents are less educated and therefore value education less. Rural communities have fewer support systems, often forcing girls to work or manage their household.

Many girls begin working as early as five years old. Mainly in agriculture or in homes as domestic servants. Child domestic workers have limited or no access to education as employers often do not allow them to enrol in school.

Women and girls disproportionately share tthe burden and care of ill family members and relatives. This affects not only whether they can attend school but also the time and energy they can devote to school work.

Due to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, poor girls can spend six hours each day collecting water, leaving little time for school. Those girls who do go to school often drop out when they start to menstruate because there is no safe place to keep clean at school.

Girls living in conflict-affected countries are 90% more likely to be out of secondary school than those living in peaceful areas. Schools can be destroyed in conflict situations, while targeted attacks on girls’ schools can make parents afraid to send their daughters to school. In humanitarian emergencies, including natural disasters, increased poverty for families and lack of employment opportunities means girls are at higher risk of early marriage or ending up in prostitution.

Every year 15 million girls under the age of 18 become wives. An average of 40, 000 every day. Marriage interrupts and ends girls’ education sot hey do not gain the skills that could lift them out of poverty over 60% of child brides in developing countries have no formal education.

Many cannot return to school after mariage because they cannot afford to pay school fees. Child mariage also means girls have early and frequent pregnancies, which contributes to higher rates of girls dropping out of school.

Each year about 16 million girls between 15 and 19 give birth. Stigma, lack of support and discriminatory laws around pregnancy exclude girls from school, forcing them to stay at home and care for their chidren. Childcare and flexible school programmes or adult classes are not available to them.

Globally between 93 million and 150 million children live with a disability. The world Health Organization and the World Bank estimate that in some countries ‘‘being disabled more than doubles the chance of never enrolling in school’’

Girls with disabilities face discrimination both because of their gender and their disability, making them among the most marginalised groups of children. Respondents to the World Health Survey 2002-2004 indicated that 41.7% of girls with a disability completed primary school compared to 52.9% for those without a disability.

Schooling decisions also depend on the composition of the household and the activities of other children. For example, being the oldest child limits a girl’s chances of going to school, as she is expected to help her mother around the house during the day.

Children are likely to drop out of school life it is not relevant to their reality. It is essential that the school curriculum and materials for teaching reading, writing and numeracy meet the needs of children.

The same goes for „facts and skills“ teaching about rights, gender equality, health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS and peace. Girls face additional challenges. Female characters are generally absent when not stereotypical from the content and illustrations of the lessons. This can be verified in particular in subjects considered to be strictly reserved for boys.

IV) Solutions for girls’ education
The fault now lies with the precocity of the girls or their ways of dressing and seducing or provoking their teachers. This designation of girls as responsible for their own victimization is based on observable strategies on their part to transform the situation of their advantage.

We are indeed dealing with social actors endowed with room for maneu- ver and capable of determining them- selves in strategies even stratagems intended to play the game of ‘‘trans-actions’’.

Girls thus cease to be mere poten- tial vctims at the mercy of probable torturers. Deliberate seduction and provocation becomes „manipula- tion“ and „oppression“ for those of them who cannot control their desires towards their young students.

From there, the adage that some teachers or adults in schools like to recall, namely that sheep graze only where they are attached becomes a threat to an education system that operates outside any ethics and which risks seeing the development of sexu- al transaction practices. 

However, in order to hope to anchor a dynamic that should contribute to reducing the imbalances between boys and girls in education. It is im- portant to adopt a strategy based on the involvement and effective empow- erment of populations targets coupled with the mobilization of „opinion vectors“; ready to take charge and then to „relay“ the elements of a policy centered on the educational promo- tion of the female group.

Once knowledge and recognition of the benefts of girls’ education have been acquired or better, concomitantly with the process, a multifaceted program, focused on the motivation of parents through mechanisms that would relieve them of girls’ school fees.

And on improving the quality of education, will be driven with the help of NGO’s, grassroots community groups, private promoters who will develop programs contributing to the achievement of the general objectives identifed in a national development action plan. The main axes of the said plan could be as follows:

• A policy for the advancement of women with the issuance of women to reserve a quota for women in leading political and administrative bodies and in other technical structures;
• The creation of centers of excellence for girls at the middle and the secondary schools level in orde to create a ripple effect;
• New regulation on student pregnancy;
• A reorganization of cuurricula taking care of specifc gender issues, especially in rural areas
• The upgrading of the image of women in school books;
• Monitoring of the disparities between girls and boys by an „observatory“ at the level of the Department of Planning and Education Reform;
• Support for local plans to reduce the handicap of girls in terms of schooling;
• A large information of awareness campaign on girls’ education

According to UNFPA, one in every 3 girls in developing countries is mar- ried before the age of 18. But when a girl in the developing world receives 7 years of education, she marries 4 years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

Researchers from the World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women examined 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (one of the regions of the world that is least conducive to education for girls). They found a strong relationship between Educaton and Child Mariage. Each additional year of secondary education reduced the chances of child marriage defned as being married before the age of 18. 

The study also showed that educated women tend to have fewer children and have them later in life. This generally leads to better outcomes for both the mother and her kids, with safer pregnancies and healthier newborns.

Starting from the fact the promotion of gender equality and equity necessarily involves the elimination of all forms of discrimination based on sex and respect for fundamental human rights.

To this end, the specifc objectives targeted address both cultural and so- cial issues, particularly education and health, and consist of:

• Bring the different components of society to join and work for gender equality and equity
• Promote equality of access, opportunity, achievement and completion at all levels of the education system;
• Contribute to the eradication of illiteracy;
• Ensure that the differentiated needs of girls, boys, women and men are taken into account in the education system;
• Contribute to the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity;

In areas close to religious homes, where girls did not go to school at all, the Ministry of Education introduced a major innovation by frst intensifying the teaching of Arabic and more recently in 2003 by setting up Franco-Arab schools. This strategy has been very successful and the demand for education has increased signifcantly (for example in Kaffrine region in Senegal).

Education enables the girl to have self-confdence, to let go of prejudices, of her own life, to improve her quality of life, to become aware of her rights and to be able to defend them.

The educational literacy of women is benefcial, it has positive effects on the control of fertility. Educated women use contraception more often and usually marry later.

Women are both „benefciaries“ of globalization, through the modifcation of economic and global relations that it entails, and victims of globalization which generates poverty which affects women more.

For all reasons, the education of girls must be a priority in our devel- opment programs. 

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