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Promoting gender parity in basic education: Lessons from a technical cooperation project in Yemen

Abstract

Many girls are not sent to school in Yemen, despite basic education being free as well as compulsory for all children aged 6–15. Aiming to improve girls’ enrolment by increasing parental and community involvement, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) offered a technical cooperation project in June 2005 called Broadening Regional Initiative for Developing Girls’ Education (BRIDGE). Phase 1 of this project ran for three and a half years, piloting a participatory school management model supported by school grants in six districts of the Taiz Governorate in the Southwest of Yemen. To find out how successful this approach has been in a traditional society, the authors of this paper analysed the gender parity index (GPI) of the project’s pilot schools. Based on data collected at three points in time (in the initial and final years of the project, and two years after the project’s end), their findings suggest that interventions in school management which strongly emphasise girls’ education can be effective in improving gender parity rather quickly, regardless of the schools’ initial conditions. However, the authors also observe that the pilot schools’ post-project performance in terms of gender parity is mixed. While the local government allocated budgets for school grants to all pilot schools even after the project’s end, training and monitoring activities were cut back. The authors further observe that the variation in performance appears to be significantly correlated with school leaders’ initial perceptions of gender equality and with the number of female teachers employed. These findings point to the importance of providing schools with continuous long-term guidance and of monitoring those which implement school improvement programmes.

Résumé

Promouvoir la parité dans l’éducation de base : les leçons tirées d’un projet de coopération technique au Yémen – Nombreuses sont les filles qui ne fréquentent pas l’école au Yémen, en dépit de la gratuité de l’éducation de base et de la scolarisation obligatoire pour tous les enfants âgés de 6 à 15 ans. Dans le but d’améliorer la scolarisation des filles en renforçant l’implication parentale et communautaire, l’agence japonaise pour la coopération internationale (JICA) a proposé un projet de coopération technique en juin 2005, baptisé Élargir l’initiative régionale en faveur de l’éducation des filles (Broadening Regional Initiative for Developing Girls’ Education, BRIDGE). La première phase de ce projet, d’une durée de trois ans et demi, consistait à piloter un modèle participatif de gestion scolaire, financé par des subventions scolaires dans six districts du gouvernorat de Taïz, situé dans le sud-ouest du Yémen. En vue d’établir dans quelle mesure cette approche est concluante dans une société traditionnelle, les auteurs de l’article ont analysé l’indice de parité entre les sexes (IPS) dans les écoles pilotes du projet. À partir de données collectées à trois périodes différentes (dans les première et dernière années du projet ainsi que deux ans après sa clôture), leurs résultats induisent que les interventions dans la gestion scolaire, qui valorisent fortement l’éducation des filles, peuvent être efficaces pour améliorer assez rapidement la parité des sexes, indépendamment des situations de départ dans les écoles. Néanmoins, les auteurs observent également que les résultats post-projet des écoles pilotes sont variables en terme de parité. Si le gouvernement local a attribué à toutes les écoles pilotes des budgets pour les subventions scolaires même après la fin du projet, les activités de formation et de suivi ont subi des réductions. Les auteurs observent par ailleurs que les variations de résultats semblent être en nette corrélation avec la perception initiale des directeurs d’école quant à l’égalité entre les sexes, ainsi qu’avec le nombre de femmes enseignantes en exercice. Ces conclusions signalent l’importance de dispenser dans les établissements des prestations de conseils en continu et à long terme, et de suivre ceux qui réalisent des programmes de réforme scolaire.

Zusammenfassung

Förderung der Geschlechterparität in der Grundbildung: Erkenntnisse aus einem Projekt der technischen Zusammenarbeit im Jemen – Im Jemen werden nicht viele Mädchen zur Schule geschickt, obwohl die Grundbildung für alle Kinder von 6 bis 15 Jahren nicht nur kostenlos, sondern auch verpflichtend ist. Mit dem Ziel, durch die verstärkte Einbeziehung von Eltern und Gemeinschaften zu erreichen, dass mehr Mädchen angemeldet werden, initiierte die Japanische Agentur für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (JICA) im Juni 2005 ein TZ-Projekt namens BRIDGE (= Broadening Regional Initiative for Developing Girls’ Education – Ausweitung der regionalen Entwicklungsinitiative für Mädchenbildung). In Phase 1 dieses Projekts, die dreieinhalb Jahre umfasste, wurde in sechs Bezirken des Gouvernements Ta’izz im Südwesten des Jemen ein partizipatorisches Schulverwaltungsmodell betreut. Um herauszufinden, inwieweit dieser Ansatz in einer traditionellen Gesellschaft greift, haben die Autorinnen und Autoren dieses Beitrags den Geschlechterparitätsindex (GPI) der Pilotschulen des Projekts analysiert. Ihre Ergebnisse stützen sich auf Daten, die zu drei verschiedenen Zeitpunkten erhoben wurden (im ersten und im letzten Jahr des Projekts und zwei Jahre nach dessen Abschluss). Sie lassen darauf schließen, dass Interventionen im Bereich der Schulverwaltung, mit denen die Mädchenbildung entschieden in den Vordergrund gerückt wird, unabhängig von den Ausgangsbedingungen an der Schule ziemlich schnell eine Verbesserung der Geschlechterparität bewirken können. Die Autorinnen und Autoren stellen allerdings auch fest, dass die Erfolge der Pilotschulen in puncto Geschlechterparität in der Zeit nach Abschluss des Projekts gemischt sind. Obwohl die Kommunalverwaltungen allen Pilotschulen auch nach Projektende finanzielle Unterstützungsleistungen zur Verfügung stellten, wurden die Aktivitäten für Ausbildung und Monitoring zurückgeschraubt. Eine weitere Beobachtung der Autorinnen und Autoren ist, dass die unterschiedlichen Erfolgsbilanzen anscheinend signifikant mit den anfänglichen Auffassungen der Schulleitung hinsichtlich der Geschlechtergerechtigkeit und mit der Anzahl der beschäftigten Lehrerinnen korrelieren. Diese Ergebnisse zeigen, wie wichtig es ist, die Schulen langfristig und kontinuierlich zu beraten und gegebenenfalls bei der Umsetzung von Schulförderprogrammen zu begleiten.

Resumen

Promover la paridad entre los géneros en la educación básica: la enseñanza que deja un proyecto de cooperación técnica en el Yemen – Pese a que en el Yemen la educación básica sea libre y también obligatoria para todos los niños de 6 a 15 años, muchas niñas no son enviadas a la escuela en ese país. Con el fin de mejorar la escolarización de las niñas mediante una creciente participación parental y de las comunidades, la Agencia de Cooperación Internacional del Japón (JICA), implementó un proyecto de cooperación técnica en junio de 2005, la Iniciativa Regional para la Ampliación de la Educación de niñas (BRIDGE). La fase 1 de este proyecto duró tres años y medio, cin un modelo piloto de gestión escolar participativa, sostenida por becas escolares, en seis distritos del la Provincia de Taiz, en el sudoeste del Yemen. Para comprobar qué éxito ha tenido este enfoque en una sociedad tradicional, los autores de este trabajo analizaron el índice de paridad entre los géneros (GPI) de las escuelas piloto del proyecto. En base a los datos recabados en tres momentos diferentes (en los años inicial y final del proyecto, y dos años después de terminado el proyecto), sus comprobaciones sugieren que las intervenciones en la gestión escolar que ponen un fuerte énfasis en la educación de las niñas puede ser efectiva para mejorar la paridad entre los géneros con bastante rapidez, independientemente de las condiciones iniciales de la escuela. Sin embargo, los autores también observan que los resultados post proyecto de las escuelas, en cuanto a paridad entre los géneros, son desiguales. Mientras que el gobierno local ha asignado presupuestos para becas escolares a todas las escuelas piloto, incluso después de finalizado el proyecto, se han recortado las actividades de capacitación y monitoreo. Además, los autores observan que la variación en los resultados obtenidos parece tener una correlación importante con las opiniones iniciales de los directores de las escuelas en cuanto a la igualdad entre géneros y con el número de docentes femeninas empleadas. Estas comprobaciones indican cuán importante es proveer a las escuelas con asesoramiento de largo plazo y monitorear a quienes implementan los programas de mejora escolar.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The first phase, BRIDGE 1, was followed by a second phase, BRIDGE 2 (2010–2013), which plans to support 70 schools in the Dhamar Governorate in the Midwest of Yemen and 117 schools in the Taiz Governorate in the Southwest of Yemen (JICA 2011, pp.1–2). However, BRIDGE 2 is currently suspended for security reasons.

  2. 2.

    The German Agency for Technical Cooperation; Deutsche Gesellschaft für technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) merged with two other organisations in 2012 and since 2011 is called the German Agency for International Cooperation; Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

  3. 3.

    Throughout this paper, the term head teacher refers to the school leader or principal.

  4. 4.

    This finding is based on interviews conducted in December 2010 by the authors of this article with governorate education officers in charge of girls’ education and community participation.

  5. 5.

    The exceptions were the schools whose GPI was already high in the beginning and whose improvement efforts, primarily intended for disdvantaged girls, also worked for disadvantaged boys. The majority of the schools with high initial GPIs had been supported by a girls’ education programme of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) directly targeting households with girls already enrolled.

  6. 6.

    On the improvement of GPI during the project, we also ran a simple regression model using the school-level datasets created from the raw data of the Ministry of Education’s annual education surveys (AESs) in 2004/05 and 2007/08 for both pilot and non-pilot schools in two districts (Magbanah and Mawiya) of the Taiz Governorate. The estimation result shows a significantly positive coefficient for BRIDGE 1 pilot schools in the GPI change.

  7. 7.

    It is very rare to have female head teachers in rural Yemen. Women accounted only for 3 per cent head teachers in rural Taiz according to our calculation using raw data of the Ministry of Education’s annual education survey (AES) 2007/08.

  8. 8.

    Although the project endline survey does not indicate whether the teachers whom schools contracted under the project’s SIP funds were male or female, project financial data do provide this information. Thus, combining both databases, we found that the pilot schools which contracted with female teachers in SIPs actually tended to increase their share of women in the total number of teachers from 2004/05 to 2007/08.

  9. 9.

    According to the World Bank online database (http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/ed-stats, accessed 27 January 2013), the number of out-of-school female Yemeni children in 2011 is estimated at 1,013,141 for basic education (as a total of 597,188 in primary and 415,953 in lower secondary education).

  10. 10.

    It is interesting in this context that in the case of Niger, Elizabeth Beasley and Elise Huillery (2012) also found that the school grant programme, which provided training to school committees, increased school participation of the youngest pupils and decreased the number of dropouts of Grade 2 students more for girls.

  11. 11.

    The central EMIS, maintained by the Ministry of Education’s technical office (office of director general of statistics and planning and office of director general of information system) is mainly composed of data from nationwide AESs. As far as we know, the EMIS contains the school-level raw data, such as the number of students by grade and gender and the number of teaching and non-teaching staff by gender, from at least 1999/2000 until today The Ministry of Education is planning to link the database of community participation with this EMIS (Ministry of Education 2011).

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Correspondence to Takako Yuki.

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Yuki, T., Mizuno, K., Ogawa, K. et al. Promoting gender parity in basic education: Lessons from a technical cooperation project in Yemen. Int Rev Educ 59, 47–66 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-013-9341-9

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Keywords

  • Basic education
  • Gender parity
  • School management
  • Sustainability
  • Girls’ education
  • Yemen
  • BRIDGE