Gender gap widens

Gender disparity between men and women in terms of access to education, especially upper secondary, is widening in Zimbabwe, a recent United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) report has concluded.

According to the report Global Education Digest released last week, Zimbabwe is one of sub-Saharan African countries that did not only have lower educational attainment than other regions, but also has “obvious” gender disparity against women, along with Kenya and Tanzania.

“Increasing levels of education are associated with increasing gender disparity. This is most obvious in Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The Gender Parity Indices (GPI) for primary education completion in these three countries is 0,70, 0,74 and 0,77 respectively,” said Unesco.

Unesco said, for completion of lower secondary education, the GPI drops to 0,48, 0,52 and 0,67 and for upper secondary education the GPI values are as low as 0,37, 0,40 and 0,43.

In the education sector, girls bore the brunt, Unesco as they often had a lower chance of proceeding to upper secondary education.

“When a girl enters lower secondary school, her chances of completing this level and moving onto upper secondary education are slim. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where girls are increasingly disadvantaged at the upper secondary level — there are now only 76 girls for every 100 boys,” Unesco added.

Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart said the major cause of gender disparities when moving to upper secondary school stemmed from financial problems, and that most schools especially in rural areas ended at “O” Level.

“O” Level education is cheaper than “A” Level education, thus there are less students particularly girls who proceed to “A” level and because in most rural areas education ends at “O” level it becomes expensive to send children to boarding school,” Coltart said.

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