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This paper investigates why girls in low income countries often have low levels of primary school enrollment, despite the prediction that educating a woman is educating a nation. This paper explores several explanations for the determinants of primary school enrollment, but focus on girls. The findings in different articles reviewed indicate that enrollment of girls in primary schools is associated with contextual factors such as family background and health, economic, socio-cultural and political factors and cost of schooling. The unique contribution of this study stems from examination of socio-economic factors on primary school enrollment of girls. While there are several empirical studies that indicate the cost of schooling and the degree of democracy in a country also plays a paramount role in creating a gender gap in education. This review recommends that flexible schooling is seen as one way of helping girls to manage an education and still be able to help in the home. A number of additional strategies have to be attempted to encourage girls' school attendance such as abolishing school fees altogether raising awareness on the importance of girls' education; promoting poverty reduction strategies; and advocacy. Yet, increasingly, the quality of education in schools is also seen as an important aspect of attracting and retaining children. Authorities must ensure that classroom education is relevant and of good quality.
Key words: School enrollment; Gender; Developing Countries
1. Introduction and Motivation of study
Education is a fundamental human right as well as a catalyst for economic growth and human development. Filmer (2004) argues that the persistent problem of tens of millions of children across the developing world who grow up without receiving the basic education has attracted increased public attention in the recent years. This crisis is acute in rural and poor areas of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. More than 180 governments are committing themselves to addressing this crisis by pledging that every boy and girl will receive a quality basic education by 2015.Gender inequality in education affects economic growth especially by diminishing the average level of human capital. Gender inequality in education is receiving considerable attention from researchers, educators, activists and policy analysts. Concern about women and education is not itself a new issue. Tracing way back, debates surrounding women's education have focused on what has been featured as the competing demands of the private sphere of the family and the public sphere of waged labour.
Gender inequality in schooling is receiving considerable attention by international agencies as supported by Rose and Al-Samarrai (2001) at the 1990 World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand, particular emphasis was placed on female education because of the important role it is perceived to play in the economic and social development process. This view is conventionally based on research indicating that primary education for girls has important social benefits, for example, in the reduction of infant mortality and fertility. For the case of England equity in Education has been the most significant issue to emerge as a result of enrollment reforms (West, Pennell & Edge, 1997).
Despite this emphasis, not only do enrollment rates in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa remain low one decade later, but the gender gap continues to be evident. It is astonishing that in twenty first century, there are still young girls who do not have access to even basic education. If we took a snapshot of the state of education across the globe, the image would shock many of us. Current estimates place the number of out-of-school children at 93 million - more than the entire population of the Philippines. The majority of these children are girls, and almost 80 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Indeed, quality education remains a distant dream for many of the world's children, even though it is a fundamental human right enshrined in international commitments (UNICEF, 2008). There is, therefore, an urgent need to understand the factors that contribute to low enrollment and gender differences in enrollment, to facilitate the formulation of policies that address constraints on schooling.
Oketch and Rolleston (2007) assert that low enrollment among the poorest groups still presents a problem. This low enrollment may reflect a lack of supply, the opportunity cost of attending school, the perceived low returns from schooling in the labor market or other factors such as the distance to school, and for girls, the existence of female teachers and separate toilets. Major determinants of enrollment include household income, schooling cost, and presence of schools, community involvement, transportation, education quality, and relevance.
Chaudhury, Christiaensen and Asadullah (2006) contend that, to better appreciate the astounding magnitude of this effect, note that this implies that almost one million children of primary school age are denied schooling merely because of their gender, that is irrespective of the income of the household, the parental educational status, the distance to the school or the quality of the schooling. Even in urban areas, girls are 4.3 percentage points less likely to be enrolled in school than boys. To further explore the reasons for this gender bias in school enrollment, we separately examine the effects of the various known determinants of enrollment and completion separately for girls and boys. Again, there exists a strong gender bias in primary school completion. Girls are 8 to 10 percent less likely to complete fifth grade. Thus not only are girls likely to be enrolled, when enrolled they are also less likely to complete primary schooling.
This paper reviews aspects of gender inequality in education for which a substantial body of literature is based especially in the Third World countries. The focus of this paper will thus be on determinants of primary school enrollment of girls in Developing Countries. The study therefore sought to answer the following questions;
(i) What is the influence of contextual factors (socio-cultural, health, political,
and economic factors) on primary school enrollment of girls?
(ii) Does the cost of schooling affect enrollment of girls in primary education?
1.1 Policy relevance
The findings of this literature review contribute to policy discussions; with regard to education sector in general and primary education for girls in particular. The study explores the influence of contextual factors on the probability of girl child enrollment in primary school and associated policy implications. Although some developing countries have almost achieved universal primary education, school wastage through dropout undermines efforts to attain more than basic literacy since it is one thing to achieve universal education and another to keep children enrolled in school.
1.2 Organization of the study
The paper is organized in four sections. The first section is the background and motivation of the study. This is followed by the literature review section that explores research findings of similar studies. Section three encompasses the discussion and findings of the study and the paper finally draws some conclusions and policy recommendations in section four.
2. Literature Review
Women in developing countries are at an educational disadvantage compared to men. Women's comparative lack of schooling limits their opportunities and constrains their choices. Several indicators from the 2006 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey show a large gender gap in education exists whereby 39 percent of Ugandan women age 15-49 cannot read at all, compared to 16 percent of men. About one-fifth of women that is 19 percent have no formal education, compared to just five percent of men. Three in ten men that is, 30 percent have some secondary or higher education, compared to one in five women that is 21 percent. The good news is that the gender gap in educational attainment appears to be narrowing as the proportion of girls with at least some primary education has increased.
The literature on the determinants of educational enrollment usually makes a distinction between school-related factors, or those derived from the educational supply, and family-related factors, or those linked to the educational demand. The first set of factors comprises conditions such as parental education and degree of wealth, parental aspirations for their children, and cultural norms regarding women's roles. The second set of factors includes characteristics such as school distance, school organization, curriculum content, and teacher characteristics.
This paper re-examines the recently popular articles which indicate that contextual factors and cost of schooling on the side of parents are perhaps more important determinants of primary school enrollment of girls in less developed countries. It is contended that women in less developed countries are often confined to household production where the gains from schooling may be low. Furthermore parents may realise little gain from educating their daughters given the custom of patrilocal residence and the low average age of marriage.
2.1 Contextual factors
2.1.1 Family background and Health
With regard to the education of the household, it can be seen that children whose parents have academy or University level education are more than proportionately represented across all levels of schooling, whereas of those children whose parents have had no education only 20 percent of males and 10 percent of females attend primary education (Chernichovsky & Meesook, 1985). According to Filmer (2004) educating Women promotes education of children, recent studies especially in developing world show that women's education generally has more impact than men's education on children's schooling. Okumu, Nakajjo and Isoke (2008) emphasise that for a mother, this phenomenon could perhaps be attributed to the fact that educated mothers reduce the time spent doing household chores while increasing the time spent with their children than their uneducated counterparts; also, educated mothers are more effective in helping their children in academic work in doing so, they are also able to monitor and supervise their children's academic progress.
Notwithstanding academic attainment of parents as a key factor that influences the chances of a girl child school enrollment in both rural and urban areas, the education of the father increases the expected level of school retention of boys, and that of the mother's enhances the educational attainment of girls. Also as suggested by Al-Samarrai and Peasgood (1998) that demand for schooling in rural India shows that father's and mother's literacy matters for enrollment and retention the latter particularly for girls. Therefore Chudgar (2009) argues that when a household head's literacy level is low, especially when it is maternal literacy, the girl's chances of school enrollment and in some instances even her chances of school completion are low. This is backed by studies from Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, and Peru all find that mothers with basic education are substantially more likely to educate their children, especially their daughters, even controlling for other influences (Birdsall, Levine, & Ibrahim, 2005).
Also children from a larger household might have a higher probability of attending school because work is spread over a larger number of household members. Thus, direct costs for all children are greater in larger households, whereas the opportunity costs for some children are potentially greater. Parents have to make decisions about which children to send to school, and these decisions may be influenced by the age of the child, therefore the opportunity costs of sending older children are higher and by gender, girls are less likely to attend because they are required to work in the household, especially where parents perceive returns to girls' education to be lower.
The opportunity costs of children's time might also vary depending on whether or not they live with both parents, one parent, or other relatives. Those living with their mother only are less likely to attend and complete primary school because of the lower socio-economic status of these households and higher opportunity costs. If the mother has to go outside the home to work, girls will be needed to substitute for their mother in the household, and boys may also be required to work to help supplement the family income (Glewwe & Jacoby 1995).
Related to the above choice is also driven by societal construction of gender whereby male children are expected to carry on the family tree across generations and are therefore accorded more value than girl children. Perceived returns to parents of educating their daughters tend to be lower than for their sons, particularly in patrilineal systems where girls join their husbands. Reluctance to educate girls for the other family into which they are expected to marry is compounded by the opportunity costs which continue to get higher for poor households who depend considerably on the labour of their children in order to supplement household income and help to take care of the sick, especially in this era of HIV/AIDS.
In connection to the above, school fees are not the primary obstacle to attending school in some contexts. Women and girls bear greatest costs of adult ill-health, and the need to fulfill roles as caregivers and nurtures. Unfriendly school environment also serves to discourage girls from persisting in school. Mukudi (2002) points out that many girls dropout of school due to inadequate sanitation and hygiene facilities to cater for their needs during menstruation, few female teachers, inadequate school infrastructure such as classrooms and furniture and sexual harassment by teachers or boys. Girls are also affected by violence, gender discrimination in the classroom and poor enforcement of policies and laws regarding issues such as corporal punishment, child labour, school charges or fees and re-entry into school especially when girls have become pregnant. In conclusion, the academic attainment of parents enhances positive attitudinal change towards children's education.
2.1.2 Socio-cultural factors
Cultural norms and the division of labor within the home function to the detriment of girls, who are defined primarily as future mothers (Stromquist, 1989). In different countries men have a clear advantage over women in access to and control over resources while cultural practices also bestow men with more power than women in different aspects. There is a strong cultural gender based bias towards boys. Moreover, the perception that women are less economically valuable is intensified by a legal system and institutional constraints limiting women's rights to own property and their access to productive resources. The cultural, social and legal institutions make the male head of household biased towards boys, which is strongly reflected in the household's investment in children. West, Pennell and Edge (1997) emphasise that this, in itself, is likely to advantage those in higher socio-economic groups not only because of their cultural capital but also because their children are more likely to be beneficiaries given the known links between socio-economic status and educational achievement. Kasente (2003) emphasises that existing social relations of gender that structure women as providers of reproductive labour also affect the girls who are socialized as apprentices of their mothers so that they can play similar roles in future. This factor is strategic in keeping the gap between girls' and boys' enrollment in primary schools, monetary and safety considerations not withstanding. Therefore more steps are required to bridge the gender gap in education but to also to give education that will lead to transformation of society.
Andrabi, Das, and Khwaja (2005) assert that for reasons such as rigid societal gender roles, women in some less developed countries are largely confined to lives of domesticity. In rural Pakistan, 94.8 percent of girls and women are reported to be primarily engaged in household tasks.
Early marriage, especially in the case of girls is a common strategy used by poor families to raise income for the rest of household members, more practiced in rural than urban areas. Many girls perceive marriage as an escape route from family poverty while the common cultural practice of charging bride wealth brings quick and substantial income to her family. Girls sometimes withdraw themselves from school, especially if their needs for supplies like shoes, cosmetics and designer clothes that are not met by their parents or guardians. UNICEF (1999) studies show that in some cases parents encourage girls to drop out of school or fail to pay their educational costs and arrange marriages for them or encourage them to get married.
2.1.3 Political factors
The empirical analysis demonstrates that a strong relationship exists between democracy and primary school enrollment even when we account for education's impact on democracy. Democracy's impact, therefore, is most prominent among the poorest countries of the world (Brown, 1999). The political turmoil especially in developing countries is also responsible for the gender gap in education that is civil wars have a short-term effect in form of state resources being diverted from social spending into military spending. Alternatively, civil wars also have long-term impact by destroying a state's ability to provide education through the loss of infrastructure and individuals. Funds would instead be allocated to the rebuilding of these lost assets and until these assets are rebuilt, educational expenditures are likely to decline.
In addition to content, Lai and Thyne (2007) point out that Civil wars are likely to cause school enrollments to decrease, owing to the physical destruction of schools, school closure in the interest of safety, displacement of refugees, deaths of pupils and educators, and subversive tactics used by rebel groups. As result of political turmoil, schools are closed a case in point is Israeli authorities often closed Palestinian schools, arguing that they were centers for anti-Israeli protests. Palestinians also caused closures by staging violent protests, making it unsafe to open schools. In addition in Democratic Republic of Congo, it is argued that many schools have been closed as a result of the civil war making the innocent youth especially the girls the biggest victims. Further, Lai and Thyne (2007) explain that subversive groups normally pursue many tactics, including destruction of schools, to undermine the government. They cite evidence from diverse countries, such as Mozambique, Sudan, Angola, Guatemala, Colombia, Afghanistan, and the Philippines, as evidence of these tactics. Refugee flows also contribute to decreased enrollment as civilians flee to neighboring countries for safety or better economic opportunity during civil war. We expect any of these reasons to result into decreased school enrollment especially for girls.
2.1.4 Economic factors
Low enrollment among the poorest groups still presents a problem. This low enrollment may reflect a lack of supply, the opportunity cost of attending school, the perceived low returns from schooling in the labor market or other factors such as the distance to school, and for girls, the existence of female teachers and separate toilets (Oketch & Rolleston, 2007).
Child labour in the developing world is seen as a major obstacle to education for all, and the purging of child labour is a key to realising education for all. Poverty is the driving force behind child labour. Although the abolition of primary school fees in a number of African countries has enabled many parents to enrol their children, others still find that they need children to supplement the family income by working, instead of going to school. There are nearly two million working children between the ages of 5-17 in the developing world (UNICEF, 2006). Where families have to choose between educating a boy or a girl, often a boy will be chosen in the belief that he is a better investment. Girls are more likely than boys to work in the home, to look after siblings, and to do household chores.
In connection to the content, although some parents are aware that schooling has long-term benefits, due to poor economies and failing job markets, the required immediate financial investment for school is not worth the likely return. This is especially true for girls. Much of this attitude is blamed on the declining opportunities for employment in the labour market and the runaway price increases which leads to increase in the cost of living. This especially affects girls' education that in some cases are forced into early marriage, since parents consider them as a source of bridewealth that can drag the family out of poverty.
In addition, despite the large improvements in funding equity, many pupils, especially in rural South Africa, continue to face dilapidated schools, few, if any, textbooks and school supplies, and poorly trained teachers. Even in the absence of comprehensive data on pupil academic performance, it seems clear that many South African children do not yet have access to a constitutionally mandated basic education (Reschovsky, 2006).
Colclough, Al-Samarrai, Rose and Tembon (2003) reveal that differential returns to education among men and women may influence household investment decisions. Empirical analyses aimed at understanding labor market segmentation and wage determination by gender could thus also improve our understanding of the underlying causes of household underinvestment in female education. Alternatively, or in addition, there may be a deep-rooted cultural bias as suggested by the disempowered position of women in many developing countries society generally. Therefore measures to strengthen women's legal rights and expand their economic opportunities, may help to improve the standing of women and to gradually erode this bias.
2.2 Cost of schooling
The costs or opportunity costs of education refer to the resources utilized in the production of education; they are measured as the economic value of such inputs in their best alternative use. They consist not only of public spending on education personnel, facilities, supplies, and equipment, but also direct private costs of education such as household spending on education fees, textbooks, uniforms, transportation, indirect private costs of education such as students' forgone earnings, as well as private contributions in cash and in kind to education. Educational cost studies focus on resources utilized in education (Tsang, 1997).
Gershberg and Meade (2005) contend that the high cost of schooling has eroded the long-held notion that education was the right of everybody, education is now for those with the money and given the wide spread retrenchments, soaring unemployment rates and a food crisis, many parents in the developing world claim that their children have to drop out of school and look for work in order to support the family. Completion of schooling is a significant problem.
The education income gap also exacerbates gender disparities. In India, for example, the gap between boys and girls from the richest households is 2.5 percent, but the difference for children from the poorest households is 24 percent (Birdsall, Levine & Ibrahim, 2005).
3. Discussion and Conclusion
Following a review of the literature on gender and primary schooling in different parts of the World, boys are more likely to complete primary school than girls especially in developing countries. The principal contribution of this paper is that, it develops and implements a strategy capturing the causal effect of contextual factors on the differential treatment in children's primary education.
Literature on girls' education in developing countries mostly focuses on identifying and describing constraints girls encounter in terms of accessing and succeeding in education, and it is thus problem oriented. What is lacking in the other half of the picture, are the predictors of enrollment of girls for basic education and how the girls cope with the plight of their education. This research fills the gaps in earlier done researches on girls' education by examining the determinants of primary school enrollment of girls. Findings of this paper indicate that the contextual factors have different effects, not only on investments in girls' and boys' education, but also on girls' and boys' academic performance. Given the strong association between parental education especially for female adults and the educational achievements of the community, the role of awareness and adult literacy campaigns should be further explored.
In sum, the analysis provides information regarding gender breach against the girls in primary education in developing countries resulting from family background and health, economic factors, socio-cultural factors and cost of schooling, though there may be other predictors subject for further research.
4. Policy Recommendations
The need to increase girls' access to, and retention in, basic education is widely accepted amongst policy makers and researchers. Recent studies show the need for female education as an important development strategy for developing countries and this strategy is broadly agreed upon across a range of agencies and, increasingly, governments. Lagging female primary school enrollment keenly concerns policy-makers in developing countries. This paper suggests that, of measures to ease school supply constraints, improving access to primary schools and adult education is envisaged to aide in enhancing attitudinal change among illiterate and ignorant parents in favor of child education, will reduce gender disparity in primary school enrollment.
In addition developing countries should reduce on fees for primary education, together with a massive program of dissemination, decentralization, awareness building and mobilization at the local level, should be effectively done in order to increase primary attendance especially by the girls and this would help to eliminate gender bias in the access to primary education.
There are also major concerns about the level of overall demand for primary education in the context of limited expansion of formal sector employment and limited payoffs to investments to primary education in the smallholder agriculture and informal sectors where most of the population in developing countries will be concentrated. But with increased commitment from governments and donors to provide sufficient places for all children as well as achieve major improvements in the education quality, gender equity in education can be attained as part of comprehensive strategies for the Millenium Development Goals.
Flexible schooling is seen as one way of helping girls to manage an education and still be able to help in the home. A number of additional strategies have to be attempted to encourage girls' school attendance such as abolishing school fees altogether raising awareness on the importance of girls' education; promoting poverty reduction strategies; and advocacy. Yet, increasingly, the quality of education in schools is also seen as an important aspect of attracting and retaining children. Authorities must ensure that classroom education is relevant and of good quality.
Once families are convinced that schooling can benefit their children, incentives are key in helping families meet educational costs. Programmes to cover a variety of interventions should be designed to reduce schooling costs, especially for girls, and thereby encourage out-of-school children to enrol in and stay at school. Incentives are generally aimed at encouraging parents, but are also designed to support girls in their education.