United Nations


Commission on the Status of Women

18 January 1995

Thirty-ninth session
New York, 15 March-4 April 1995
Item 5 of the provisional agenda


           Second review and appraisal of the implementation of the Nairobi
               Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women

                        Report of the Secretary-General


                        II.  CRITICAL AREAS OF CONCERN

           B.  Inequality in access to education and other means
               of maximizing the use of women's capacities

1.    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that everyone has a
right to education.  This has often been neglected in the list of basic human
needs and has only recently received more attention, when economists and
development planners recognized that education and human resource development
are key factors in promoting development.  There is evidence that education
has an impact on health, mortality, productivity, household income and
fertility rates.  The social returns to a woman's education go far beyond
individual welfare and are vital to national development.  Potential economic
gains result from the expansion of women's income earning capacities.  Special
efforts need to be made to reach the excluded and the vulnerable, in
particular, girls in some regions and countries, girls with disabilities,
girls of ethnic minorities and indigenous groups. 

2.    Several international instruments put forward the rights of girls and
women to education.  The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination calls for the elimination of discrimination against women in
order to ensure equal rights with men in the field of education. 1/  It asks
for the same conditions for career and vocational guidance, for access to
studies and obtaining of diplomas at all levels of schooling.  The Convention
requests access to the same curricula and examinations, to scholarships and
other study grants, to programmes of continuing education including adult and
functional literacy programmes and to information on family planning.  It
addresses the drop-out rates of female students and asks for the provision of
special programmes for girls who leave school prematurely.  It stresses that
girls should be given the same opportunities to participate actively in sports
and physical education.  It recognizes the need to eliminate stereotyped roles
of men and women at all levels and in all aspects of education. 2/ 

3.    The World Conference on Education for All, held in Jomtien (Thailand) in
1990, drew attention to the gender gap in educational opportunities and its
consequences for human development.  Article 3.3 emphasizes that the education
of girls and women constitutes a priority.  It calls in particular for the
elimination of all gender stereotyping in education and in particular for a
supportive policy context. 3/ 

4.    The Convention on the Rights of the Child 4/ contains provisions to the
right to education, including the right to compulsory and free primary
education and access to all to secondary, vocational and higher education.  It
also claims equal rights for girls and boys to education and asserts the
importance of education as a social and cultural right.  It affirms that every
child has the right to a non-discriminatory education that fully respects
cultural identity and language needs. 

         1.  Education and the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies

5.    The Forward-looking Strategies consider education to be "the basis for
the full promotion and improvement of the status of women". 5/ 
Recommendations related to education for women are set out as an area of
development, but references to the need for formal and non-formal education
and training are made in many other sections of the Nairobi Forward-looking
Strategies.  Governments agreed to encourage public and private schools to
examine educational materials and textbooks and to eliminate discriminatory
gender-stereotyping, to redesign textbooks that reflect a positive and dynamic
image of women and to include women's studies in the curricula.  They also
agreed to take steps to diversify women's vocational training and to create
integrated systems for training that have direct links with employment needs
and future trends.  The Forward-looking Strategies do not call for parity of
women's enrolment in primary, secondary and university education but rather
for "equal opportunities" in access to resources, especially education and
training, and do not consider the issue of completion (repetition and
drop-out) and the need for teacher training on gender issues.

6.    The first review and appraisal of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies
in 1990 gives evidence that changes have taken place in formal education. 6/ 
In the decade from 1970 to 1980, programmes to improve women's access to
education were effective in many regions, especially for younger women. 
Equality between men and women in school enrolment was achieved in several
regions, although not in those where the majority of the world's population is
located.  However, it shows that this change affected only a small number of
countries.  Modest progress had been achieved in Africa, which could be
largely attributed to national development plans and the fact that education
at the primary level had been free in many countries.  In Asia and the
Pacific, the pervasive influence of traditional social attitudes and feudal
patriarchal systems were identified as the main obstacles to women's
emancipation and education.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, major
differences exist between countries and between rural and urban areas. 
Indigenous populations have less access, while opportunities at higher-income
levels were nearly equal.  Few countries seemed to have engaged in a
comprehensive strategy to advance women's education. 

7.    Following the 1990 first review and appraisal of the implementation of
the Strategies on education and training, the Economic and Social Council
adopted the following conclusions:

      "Recommendation III.  In the area of education, both formal and
      non-formal, Governments should promote the training of teachers on
      gender issues, co-education and professional counselling.  Governments
      should complete the revision of textbooks expeditiously, if possible by
      1995, in accordance with national law and practice, in order to
      eliminate sex-biased presentations and should, in conjunction with
      women's groups, take steps to reduce the stereotyping of women in the
      mass media, whether by self-policing on the part of the media or by
      other measures. 

      "Governments, non-governmental organizations, women's groups and all
      other entities concerned should take steps to amend formal and informal
      educational systems at all levels to promote change in the
      psychological, social and traditional practices that are the foundation
      of the de facto obstacles to women's progress. 

      "The United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Educational,
      Scientific and Cultural Organization and other appropriate organizations
      of the United Nations system should continue to analyse the extent and
      effects of stereotyping of women and implement innovative programmes to
      combat it." 


      "Recommendation X.  Governments that have not already done so should
      reorient resources to ensure women's equal access to education and
      training at all levels and in all fields and, in collaboration with
      women's groups and non-governmental organizations, should make special
      efforts to remove all gender-related differences in adult literacy by
      the year 2000.  Programmes should be established to ensure that parents
      and teachers provide equal educational opportunities for girls and boys.

      In particular, encouragement should be given to promoting the study by
      girls of scientific and technological subjects, particularly those
      corresponding to national development priorities, and to preparing girls
      for full participation in the economy and in public life.  In order to
      fulfil these commitments, appropriate measures should be taken at the
      national and international levels to ensure revitalization of growth on
      a long-term basis.

      "The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
      and other organizations of the United Nations system should give special
      priority to eliminating female illiteracy and to monitoring efforts to
      ensure that women have equal access to all levels of education and
      training." 7/

              2.  Progress achieved and persistent gaps in female
                  education and training

      (a)    Literacy

8.    Nine hundred and five million men and women are estimated to be
illiterate world wide; 65 per cent of whom are women. 8/  In all regions of
the world, the illiteracy rate of women has been steadily declining.  With the
exception of Africa, important progress has been made in eliminating both
adult illiteracy and the differentials between female and male illiteracy. 
High illiteracy rates in Africa and Asia and the Pacific are a reflection of
past discrimination and lack of opportunities.  In the present age group 15-24
years, illiteracy rates are significantly lower due to higher levels of school

9.    Global figures on literacy mask disparities between countries within a
region and between rural and urban areas.  In the Caribbean region, for
example, very low levels of illiteracy are reported for the majority of
countries (Cuba, 2 per cent, Barbados, Guyana, the Netherlands Antilles,
10 per cent), whereas a few continue to have consistently high rates (Haiti,
65 per cent in 1985, Saint Lucia, a 54 per cent illiteracy rate in 1991). 
Countries with high numbers of indigenous populations have higher illiterate
ratios, in particular among women.  Guatemala reports that 80 per cent of the
indigenous women are illiterate.  Despite a general improvement in Asia and
the Pacific - for example, female illiteracy in south-eastern Asia has
decreased to 24 per cent - the significantly high illiteracy rates among women
still persist in that region.  There are 62 per cent of female illiterates in
South Asia, indicating a 5.5 per cent increase compared to the 1985 figure. 
In the developed countries, the number of people who have no literacy or
numeracy skills is minimal and reaches higher percentages only among immigrant
populations and people living in poverty. 

10.   Figures on illiteracy do not reflect the level of functional illiteracy.

As a result of low levels of schooling and educational achievements,
functional illiteracy is growing among men and women in many countries, even
some of the most developed, thus leaving large numbers of the population
partially illiterate and with no or little knowledge of history, current
events on societal problems.  Evidence suggests that considerable numbers of
the adult populations in some developed countries are having difficulties with
the basic skills of reading, writing and basic mathematics, although women
score better than men in literacy and numeracy.  These functional illiterates
often lack the knowledge of basic skills, such as how to operate machines and
equipment.  Functional literacy has an impact on income-generating activities,
hygiene and protection of the environment. 

         Table II.B.1.  Average percentage of men and women who were
                        illiterate in 1980 and 1990 census rounds,
                        by region

                                      1980 round             1990 round
            Region                  Men        Women      Men       Women

A.  Over 15 years of age

Africa                              51.8        71.8      44.6       61.1
Latin America and the Caribbean     18.2        23.3      14.3       16.0
Western Europe and other             5.7        11.4       8.7        9.9
Asia and the Pacific                31.8        49.3      21.7       34.3
Eastern Europe                       1.5         4.9       0.9        2.3

B.  15-24 years of age

Africa                              35.8        55.7      35.6       51.0
Latin America and the Caribbean      9.0        10.3       7.5        6.9
Western Europe and other             1.0         1.0       2.6        1.2
Asia and the Pacific                19.7        32.6      10.3       17.9
Eastern Europe                       0.5         0.9        ..         ..

C.  25-44 years of age

Africa                              50.7        74.4      35.3       58.3
Latin America and the Caribbean     14.1        19.4       5.3        7.3
Western Europe and other             2.5         4.7       5.5        3.7
Asia and the Pacific                26.7        44.7      20.2       35.8
Eastern Europe                       0.7         2.4        ..         ..

      Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, United Nations
Secretariat, based on information contained in Women's Indicators and
Statistics Data Base (WISTAT), version 3, 1994.

11.   Many national reports suggest that illiterate women have a great desire
for learning.  This strong motivation coupled with attractive programmes is a
driving force for the acceptance and success of literacy programmes. 
Illiterate women are reported to regret that they have not been in school and
consider illiteracy a major obstacle to their advancement.  Even if women are
not specifically targeted by literacy programmes, there is a considerable
increase in the number of female participants in some countries.  There is
evidence that the illiteracy rate among women is dropping at a faster rate
than that of men.  In Egypt, for example, urban illiteracy for men remained
constant between 1976 and 1986, while it dropped by 9.5 per cent for women
during the same period.  In the Caribbean, more women than men have been
attracted to adult education literacy programmes geared at educating adults
and exposing them to income- generating opportunities, developing positive
attitudes and sensitizing youth to the dignity of work.  

12.   Mass literacy campaigns constitute one effective strategy for
of widespread illiteracy among adult women within a set time-frame.  Such
campaigns have been carried out in the past in China, the former USSR,
Viet Nam, Cuba and the United Republic of Tanzania, among other countries. 
India is one of the countries undertaking mass campaigns for literacy in
various districts.  Literacy campaigns are successful when they take into
account the social condition of women and are linked to income-generating
activities.  Some countries report on the obstacles they have encountered. 
Major obstacles for successful implementation of literacy campaigns are the
discontinuity of funds, the financial and material incapacity of communities
to take charge of the training, the decreasing motivation of volunteers and
irregularities in the follow-up activities.  If there are no continuing
education opportunities, women who already know how to read and write cannot
apply and further develop their skills.  Trainers play a catalyst role in
literacy campaigns.  Some countries recognize the necessity to clearly define
literacy policy and to involve young people and especially women as
instructors in the literacy process.  

      (b)    Primary education and secondary education 

13.   In the past decade, substantive and successful efforts were made to
achieve universal primary education and to attract girls to primary schools. 
On a regional level, girls' enrolment has achieved parity with boys', except
in Africa and Asia (see table II.B.2).  The lowest rates persist in
sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia.  In the ESCAP region as a
whole, mean years for schooling for girls have increased from 2.99 in 1980 to
3.58 in 1990, while in South Asia, girls spent on average only 1.26 years in
school in 1990 (1980:  1.16).  Some countries report significant increases in
female enrolment, which reflects a political will to promote girls' education.

As an example, Bhutan has increased primary school enrolment for girls by
68 per cent since 1984, to 93 per cent, while boys registered a growth of only
11 per cent.  The report explains that a special effort has been made to
constantly gain the confidence of the parents to send their daughters to
school in a country where the value of education in a modern environment was
not fully appreciated before 1984, and the first modern school opened in the

14.   Enrolment in secondary education is reaching parity in the developed
countries and Eastern Europe (see table II.B.3).  In Latin America and the
Caribbean, the ratio of girls to boys is higher, indicating that more girls
now remain in secondary education than boys.  In 11 countries within the
region, girls' enrolment rates exceed those of boys.  The increase in the
ratio of girls to boys in the African and Asia and Pacific region in only one
generation (1970-1990) is considerable but is still far from reaching parity. 
Some developed countries report significant increases, which are not due only
to the expansion of the educational opportunities at secondary level.  In
Australia, the number of girls staying in school to year 12 has increased from
less than 37.3 per cent in 1980 to 82 per cent in 1992 (compared with
72.5 per cent for boys).  In the United States, women have been narrowing the
education gap.  The figure of women completing their high school increased
from 53 per cent in 1970 to 75 per cent in 1990. 

              Table II.B.2.  Average ratio of girls to boys in primary
                             education, by region, 1970-1990

                 Region                        1970         1980          1990

      Africa                                     65           74           79

      Latin America and the Caribbean            94           95           95

      Western Europe and other                   95           95           95

      Asia and the Pacific                       66           78           84

      Eastern Europe                             94           94           96

      World                                      77           84           87

             Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, United Nations
      Secretariat, based on information contained in Women's Indicators
      and Statistics Data Base (WISTAT), version 3, 1994.

                 Table II.B.3.  Average ratio of girls to boys in
                                secondary education, by level and
                                region, 1970-1990
                 Region                        1970         1980          1990

      Africa                                     46           57            69

      Latin America and the Caribbean            98          107           109

      Western Europe and other                   90           98            98

      Asia and the Pacific                       58           70            77

      Eastern Europe                             97           91            94

      World                                      67           80            85

             Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, United Nations
      Secretariat, based on information contained in Women's Indicators
      and Statistics Data Base (WISTAT), version 3, 1994.

15.   In Latin America, the quantitative progress achieved does not take into
account the increment in late enrolments, grade repetition, temporary and
definitive drop-outs.  Access to schooling and appropriation of educational
and cultural benefits is affected by urban or rural residence and by social
class.  Poor and rural women are more likely to be illiterate, to have no
access to training programmes and higher education.  Since the public
educational system is fragmented, the poor attend low-quality schools, and
vulnerable groups are most affected.  Great disparities continue to persist
among countries and within them, between urban and rural zones, among
different ages and social classes.

16.   The African region remains the region with the lowest levels of
education.  Almost half of the children of primary school age are out of
school, the majority of them girls.  Nevertheless, the countries of the
African region have made an important effort on the supply side to cater for
the educational needs of their growing populations.  On a global level,
primary enrolments in Africa more than tripled between 1960 and 1989, while
they have doubled in Asia and Latin America.  This expansion was subsequently
reduced in the 1980s.  In many countries with high population growth, the
planning of new educational facilities did not meet the actual need.  The
educational sector in Nigeria, for example, has continued to expand rapidly. 
The number of primary schools doubled from nearly 20,000 in 1975/76, when the
universal primary education was launched, to over 37,000 by 1982/83.  The
number of pupils, however, increased from 6 million to 14.5 million during
that period.  An increase of 85 per cent of the supply side stands against an
increase of 140 per cent on the demand side. 

17.   The economic crisis and measures of structural adjustment in the
eighties had their impact on the educational system.  Expressed as a
proportion of their national income during the 1980s, developing countries in
general maintained the public expenditures on education.  However, the
significant population growth with the low level of national incomes actually
brought the budgetary cuts in public expenditures on education.  Thus, public
expenditures on education per capita in sub-Saharan Africa fell by more than
one half between 1980 and 1989.  In Zaire, for example, a decrease from 3.6
per cent in 1980 to 1.7 per cent in 1985 and to 1.4 per cent in 1988 brought
with it a decrease in the quality of education and lower enrolment.  In Togo,
such a situation caused the closure of schools and consequently a decrease in

18.   The political will to encourage girls' education is a prerequisite for
increasing enrolment.  There is evidence that the increase in per capita GNP
positively affects female enrolment rates and women generally move towards
parity with men.  However, this does not occur automatically.  If there are no

gender-specific educational policies, the countries even with relatively high
per capita GNP show disappointing achievements in terms of progress in female
enrolment; whereas the countries with low per capita GNP show remarkable
success because of deliberate educational policies taken to promote female
education.  For example, in Indonesia, through affirmative action programmes
the female/male disparity at secondary level was reduced by more than half
during the 1980s.  In Malawi, 33 per cent of the total secondary school
enrolment slots are reserved for girls.  In Bangladesh, taking into account
the cultural constraints, separate secondary schools for girls were
established at sub-district level.

19.   An important contributor to low female enrolment rates in education is
the cost factor.  The annual cost per pupil for primary education may be as
high as a rural family's annual cash income.  The annual cost of educating a
child in secondary school is even greater.  If a family decides to educate a
child, culture and economics may favour the male.  In some countries, the
introduction of free secondary education considerably benefited the girls;
previously if there were not sufficient family resources for education, they
were kept at home.

20.   The enrolment of girls differs significantly in rural and urban areas. 
In Mali, for example, where only 17-20 per cent of girls are enrolled, the
difference between rural and urban areas ranges from 13 to 59 per cent,

21.   Many countries reported on high drop-out rates.  In some countries of
Latin America and the Caribbean the drop-out rates for boys are higher than
for girls.  Boys are leaving school in order to earn an income.  In countries
with low levels of girls' schooling, drop-out rates for them are higher. 
Customs and traditions also have an impact on girls' school attendance.

22.   There are socio-economic and cultural obstacles for girls' access to
education.  These obstacles and a generally low perception of the value or
utility of educating girls have an impact on their educational performance. 
Poor health and nutrition, early pregnancy and marriage, traditional practices
such as circumcision, for example, further aggravate the situation.  In some
countries, only a small percentage of girls passes the primary school-leaving
examinations.  Several projects have been launched to remedy this situation,
such as the abolishing of school fees for girls who do not repeat classes,
social mobilization campaigns and the introduction of a bursary scheme for
girls which provides tuition, uniforms and learning materials.  Where equal
access for girls is achieved and guaranteed and women's education is not
considered a low priority, girls achieve better results and higher scores than
boys in a number of countries.  In the Caribbean and in some Latin American
countries, girls perform better than boys in terminal examinations at the
secondary level.  In the United Kingdom, girls currently out-perform boys in
science subjects in examinations in the age group 16-18. 

23.   On a global level, the rate of distribution among various subjects of
specialization reveals a large gap in the female/male ratio in arts,
literature, science and mathematics.  Female secondary students are clustered
in traditional fields of study.  This is a decisive factor in determining
whether women enrol in university to major in non-traditional areas and pursue
vocational and technical or industrial training.  When selecting their fields
of specialization, girls tend not to focus as much as boys on long-term
planning and not to take into account career choices and labour-market

      (c)    Tertiary education

24.   Women are increasingly entering colleges and universities.  However,
progress in that area depends on the region.  In developed countries women and
men are approaching parity in higher education.  In Latin America and the
Caribbean and in Eastern Europe, women outnumbered men at that level; in
Africa they are far behind (table II.B.4).  However, even in the African
region measures are being taken to correct the situation.  In Uganda, for
example, due to the implementation of special measures, the share of girls in
the national university increased from 25 per cent in 1985-1990 to 33 per cent
in 1993 .

25.   In China, the number of female postgraduates increased by 157 per cent
from 1985 to 1992; of female college and university graduates, by
143 per cent; and of female graduates from secondary vocational schools, by
157 per cent.  The national reports cite various reasons for the increases
besides the general expansion of the educational system.  In some cases, the
elimination of gender-exclusive admission practices opened the door to
educational establishments which had been closed to women.  Other countries
undertook reforms of their higher education systems and incorporated in them
various post-secondary study programmes that attracted women.  One reason
given for the predominance of female students is the early entrance of men
into the labour force, which prevents them from completing their degree of
higher education. 

26.   A few countries with low female enrolment rates in tertiary education
reported on measures of affirmative action taken to encourage young women to
pursue their education.  Australia is linking funding allocations to
institutions of higher education to the progress achieved towards equity
goals, while setting specific targets for the increase of the number of women
in non-traditional courses and postgraduate study by 1995.  In Sweden, the
Government approved a 10-point programme for monitoring efforts to promote
equality between women and men in higher education which proposed steps to
increase the number of female graduate students. 

27.   The majority of female students are still enrolled in the traditionally
"female" fields of studies.  The highest increase in the number of female
graduates has continued to occur in fields such as humanities, fine arts and
education.  In the United States, where college enrolment of women now exceeds
that of men, the majority of women still choose subjects of study that are
less likely to lead to higher paying jobs. 

28.   However, more and more women are entering formerly male-dominated fields
such as law, medicine and business administration.  There is an increase in
the number of women studying law and business in Latin America and Caribbean
(table II.B.5).  In science and technology women are catching up to men almost
in all regions, except Africa, though even in that region there is a positive
shift (table II.B.6).

         Table II.B.4.  Average ratio of girls to boys in tertiary
                        education, by region, 1970-1990           
                 Region                        1970         1980          1990

      Africa                                     20           30           32

      Latin America and the Caribbean            72           74          106

      Western Europe and other                   53           72           94

      Asia and the Pacific                       46           63           84

      Eastern Europe                             78          106          104

      World                                      46           61           75
             Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, United Nations
      Secretariat, based on information contained in Women's Indicators
      and Statistics Data Base (WISTAT), version 3, 1994.

                Table II.B.5.  Average ratio of girls to boys in law
                               and business in tertiary education,
                               by region, 1970-1990
                 Region                        1970         1980          1990

      Africa                                     12           43           36

      Latin America and the Caribbean            30           92           97

      Western Europe and other                   25           54           85

      Asia and the Pacific                       25           56           70

      Eastern Europe                             64          134          124

      World                                      25           63          102

             Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, United Nations
      Secretariat, based on information contained in Women's Indicators
      and Statistics Data Base (WISTAT), version 3, 1994.

             Table II.B.6.  Average ratio of girls to boys in science and
                            technology fields in tertiary education, by
                            region, 1970-1990
                 Region                        1970         1980          1990

      Africa                                     24           21           24

      Latin America and the Caribbean            37           54           80

      Western Europe and other                   29           49           67

      Asia and the Pacific                       33           45           70

      Eastern Europe                             61           81           74

      World                                      32           43           56

             Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, United Nations
      Secretariat, based on information contained in Women's Indicators
      and Statistics Data Base (WISTAT), version 3, 1994.

29.   Scholarships are one means of encouraging and enabling girls to pursue
their education and of guiding them into non-traditional fields.  Some
developing countries criticize the attribution of scholarships by donor
countries on a purely merit basis for those priority areas of study identified
for future labour needs.  Traditional attitudes often prevail in decisions
concerning whether female students should be sent abroad to study.  Mentoring
programmes have been initiated in a number of developed countries.  Senior
women scientists mentor schoolgirls and young scientists on how to develop
career strategies and paths and how to sustain motivation and inspiration. 
Vocational counselling and guidance are additional means used to encourage
girls to opt for non-traditional career paths.  France, for example, launched
important campaigns in 1992 and 1993 encouraging girls and young women to
pursue technical specializations and professions. 

30.   The increased number of women in higher education has started to have a
visible effect in certain careers that were until recently closed to women. 
Women who have completed higher degrees are also having an impact on the
economy.  In Bulgaria, for example, 56 per cent of all economically active
persons with academic qualifications are women.  Reports from all regions
indicate that equal education does not mean equality in professional
qualifications or remuneration.  In general, the majority of well educated
women with university degrees are employed in lower-level jobs, despite higher
educational qualifications than men.  The low level of quality of the
educational results and the loss of contact between education, training and
the modern requirements of the labour market have been noted.  Wage
differences between men and women are greater among young adults with similar
education.  There is a growing distortion between the qualifications and
expectations of young women, who are more and more educated, and their
effective participation in the labour market. 

      (d)    Non-formal education

31.   Although formal education is the norm and is advocated for children aged
6-14 years, many children - in particular, girls - fall through the net of
formal education because of its inaccessibility, high cost and perceived
irrelevancy.  The role of non-governmental organizations in non-formal and
basic education is being increasingly recognized.  In developed countries,
non-governmental organizations carry out research and educational campaigns. 

32.   Non-governmental organizations are essential partners in the provision
of basic education in developing countries with low levels of enrolment and
urban- to-rural disparities.  In many developing countries, non-governmental
organizations are working in a complementary fashion to the public education
system.  They receive increasing support from multilateral and bilateral donor
agencies for their work in the field of education and are dependent on
financing from abroad.

      (i)    Pre-school education

33.   Pre-school education has grown rapidly over the past 10 years in many
regions.  Globally, there seem to be no gender differences between girls and
boys with regard to enrolment in pre-school education, where and when it is
available.  Available figures in Latin America and the Caribbean show that
supply for pre-school education is directed primarily towards the middle and
upper socio-economic strata. 

34.   With more mothers and fathers both employed and the disappearance of
extended families, there is growing need for child care of good quality. 
Research findings indicate that a child's environment from birth to age three
helps to determine his or her cognitive structure and ability to learn. 
Infants and toddlers need intellectual stimulation, emotional nourishment and
social guidance for healthy development.  The shaping of gender roles also
takes place during this period, and pedagogical interventions - in particular,
in kindergartens - can have an impact on later attitudes and behaviour

35.   In many countries, projects have been undertaken to remove gender
stereotyping from pre-school education and to make pre-schoolteachers aware of
gender bias in attitudes and behaviour. 
      (ii)  Alternative forms of teaching

36.   Non-traditional programmes for out-of-school children provide a
non-institutional environment based on a learner-centred curriculum and
flexible schedule.  They have been advocated by many educators as a temporary
measure to improve access and performance, in particular for girls and groups
of children that cannot be reached by or integrated into the formal
educational system.

37.   Programmes in non-formal education have been carried out in many
countries - Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, India, Nepal, Thailand, United
Republic of Tanzania and others.  Specific conditions for success are the
location of the classrooms in the local community, competent teachers
recruited locally, free education with no hidden costs, and convenient class
schedules that take into account the girls' household and agricultural
responsibilities.  Girls in regions and cultures most resistant to female
formal education are most eager to attend those schools and perform very
successfully.  One example is the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee,
which started non-formal primary education in 1985 and has expanded to 4,500
experimental schools, teaching 100,000 children; 70 per cent are girls from
rural landless families.

      (iii)  Adult education

38.   Activities in the field of continuing education for women are abundant
and rich in their diversity and range from literacy, income generation and
politics to creative and spiritual programmes.  They are carried out by a
variety of organizations, including non-governmental organizations, political
parties, educational institutions and foundations.  Educational activities for
adult women are a major component to awareness-raising and increasing
self-confidence among women.  Training in legal literacy, for example, has
gained importance since it is a necessary tool for making women aware of their
human rights.  Vocational training, training on the job, and training for
income generation and self-employment are important features.

39.   Adult education programmes have been a vital resource for educationally
disadvantaged women and young adult females, even if they are not specifically
targeting women.  Life-long learning needs more attention in times of rapid
social and technical changes.  Women are increasingly taking advantage of
training opportunities offered to them.

      (e)    Vocational training

40.   The successful completion of education at the secondary level is not
sufficient to prepare women to enter the labour market; technical and
vocational training is usually considered necessary.  Compared to the career
paths of men, women's professional life is characterized by frequent
interruptions and changes of orientation, voluntary or not.  Women still take
responsibility for the bulk of the work done in the home, so they are looking
for possibilities to reconcile working and family duties.  Women who interrupt
their careers for maternity leave and care-taking or who are displaced by
unemployment need training and retraining in order to re-enter the labour
market.  A life cycle approach to employment is therefore needed and requires
training and frequent retraining.  However, many education and training
policies for women are not sufficiently adapted to the changing patterns of
demand in the labour market.  Women frequently do not have the same access as
men to ongoing training in the workplace so as to upgrade skills and promote
their career development.  Many training and retraining schemes designed to
increase women's access to jobs remain insufficiently developed.  In addition,
they often direct women to a limited number of fields where career
opportunities are limited.  Few countries give special regard to the training
of single parents and women re-entering the labour market as well as
unemployed women.  Some countries conduct special programmes to enhance
long-term employability of certain target groups, such as young teenage

41.   Obstacles to the technical and vocational education of women include
inadequate knowledge of mathematics and science, limited opportunities for
women to study technical subjects, inadequate policies for promoting technical
and vocational education for women, and a reluctance by employers to recruit
qualified women for technical jobs.  Many training programmes for women have
been restricted to traditional domestic activities such as sewing, cooking,
embroidery and child care.  In developing countries, many vocational training
programmes are concentrated in the capital cities and a few provinces. 
Although many women attend these programmes, they remain clustered in typical
female jobs, and only a few enrol in technical schools which are oriented
towards the modern industrial sector, engineering, agriculture, forestry and

      (f)    Education for special groups of girls and women

42.   In many countries, there has been markedly less educational improvement
among particular groups of girls such as migrants, aborigines, girls with
disabilities, or girls living in poverty.  Many countries report on the
special needs of immigrant women, visible minority women and female single
parents and have adopted special programmes.  Australia, for example, is
paying attention to the special needs of girls from non-English-speaking
backgrounds, isolated rural areas, aborigines, and economically disadvantaged
groups.  Canada is providing special scholarships for indigenous persons who
want to pursue full-time or part-time post-secondary education.  Two thirds of
the students who receive such support are women.

43.   Countries affected by civil strive, occupation and war report on the
suspension of all forms of education.  In many cases, primary schools,
intermediate, secondary, vocational and teacher training centres are closed
for long periods.  The effects of these interruptions in education on women
and girls become visible only in the long term.  In situations of frequent
curfews and closures of schools, the number of girls who drop out of the
educational system has increased, especially if additional cultural
restrictions are put on their mobility. 

44.   Girls with disabilities often lack access to education and training,
because educational facilities cannot cater for their special needs.  The cost
of providing equal opportunities for girls and women with disabilities is an
obstacle that prevents many political decision makers from providing adequate
and needed services.  Few countries reported on the efforts to provide special
educational facilities for girls and women with disabilities. 

        3.  Women in teaching and educational decision-making

45.   In all regions the male-to-female ratio in teaching varies according to
the level of teaching.  The percentage of female teachers is high at the
primary level, decreases at the secondary level and declines further in
universities and equivalent institutions (see table II.B.7).  Women are
generally underrepresented in the higher status and higher paying categories. 
They are still underrepresented in educational administration and as teachers
of science, where they can have an image-shaping function on boys and girls. 
In Africa the number of female teachers is especially low, even at the primary
level, though there is a positive trend in that area.

               Table II.B.7.  Percentage of teachers who are female,
                              by level taught, 1990
                   Percentage of female teachers,    Number of countries/areas
                       by level taught, 1990           included in averages
                   _____________________________     _________________________
                          First   Second   Univer-    First   Second   equiva-
                          level   level    sities     level   level    lent

Developed regions            75       51       26      38     29        29
Eastern Europe a/            78       53       31      15     11        12
Western European others      73       50       23      23     18        17
  Western Europe             74       52       23      18     13        12
  Other developed            72       47       23       5      5         5
Africa                       40       25       16      46     38        28
Northern Africa b/           48       35       23       5      5         3
Sub-Saharan Africa           39       23       15      41     33        25
Latin America and Caribbean  73       52       32      28     22        18
Latin America                74       51       27      17     12         8
  Central America            74       46       27       6      5         3
  South America              74       54       28      11      7         5
Caribbean                    72       54       35      11     10        10
Asia and Pacific c/          54       43       24      34     33        29
  Eastern Asia d/            67       45       26       6      5         6
  South-eastern Asia         57       51       31       7      7         5
  Central and Southern Asia  34       26       20       6      6         5
     Western Asia            56       45       22      13     13        11
     Oceania e/              54       40       23      11     10         4

      Sources:  Calculated from UNESCO education statistics database and
Statistical Yearbook (Paris, various years up to 1993); Statistics Division of
the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; national
statistical yearbooks; national census reports; and reports of national
education ministries or departments. 

      a/     Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, the former Czechoslovakia, former
German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Russian
Federation, Romania, the former USSR, Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia.

      b/     Not including the Sudan, which is included in sub-Saharan Africa.

      c/     In obtaining unweighted averages for Asia and the Pacific, only
two countries in Oceania are considered:  Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

      d/     Excluding Japan, which is included under "Developed regions".

      e/     Excluding Australia and New Zealand, which are included under
"Developed regions".

46.   Although the number of female academics in higher education is
increasing globally and has even doubled in some developed countries over the
past 20 years, tenure is still heavily concentrated among older, more senior
male academics.  Female university staff tends to be employed in support
positions which lack promotional opportunities, such as specialist or
instructor.  In other cases, women have been promoted into new fields of
studies, and thus the figures increased.  The Netherlands reports on an
increase in the number of female professors of 4 per cent which can be mainly
attributed to newly appointed professors in women's studies.

47.   Many countries have taken measures to ensure a greater representation of
women in the teaching professions at higher levels.  In 1991, Austria enacted
changes in the law on university organization which encourage the minister for
science and research and the executive bodies of the universities to work
towards achieving gender balance in universities. 

48.   There are few figures on women's active participation in educational
planning and decision-making.  Some countries have realized that women have to
be actively involved in the implementation of educational campaigns.  The
involvement of women in the formulation of formal educational policies and
their active participation in the design of policies and educational projects
are key elements for successful literacy campaigns and means of empowerment. 
In the African region, high-level women educators organized and regrouped in
the Forum of African Women Educationalists, which is striving for the
achievement of universal primary education and education for all the children
in Africa by mobilizing resources, developing and comparing strategies and
raising awareness on the importance of girls' education and influencing
attitudes of parents and society as a whole. 

        4.  Measures to remove gender bias in education and training

49.   The quality of education is a question that goes beyond issues of access
and performance.  It extends beyond the satisfaction of basic educational
needs to improved completion rates, critical awareness and empowerment.  Much
research has been done on gender stereotypes and bias in education and
training in the past decade.  The establishment of women's studies programmes
at the undergraduate and graduate levels is the most visible acknowledgement
of the need to examine gender issues in society and gender bias in education,
training and research.  Most countries claim to have at least the beginnings
of a women's studies curriculum in progress, while in as many as 30 countries
of the world women's studies centres and programmes function both inside and
outside the formal educational system. 

50.   The first step undertaken by many developing countries is the removal of
gender bias in textbooks.  Official textbooks mostly transmit
gender-stereotyped values and attitudes and portray women as weak and passive
and in traditional roles as mothers and housewives.  Beyond the general
recognition that the stereotyping of women should be eliminated from textbooks
and curricula and policy declarations on the issue, few Governments have taken
far-reaching steps.  Some countries have taken action aimed at balancing
illustrations and removing gender-biased texts from schoolbooks.  Others
regret that further guidelines have not yet been established. Few countries
have made a systematic attempt to change syllabi and course content or to take
further measures to foster non-stereotyped gender roles.  The most common
curricular innovation is the inclusion of technical and home management
subjects at the middle-school level as common learning areas for boys and
girls.  Reforms of the curricular nomenclature are reported.  Some countries
have invited school administrators to evaluate the curricula to root out
gender bias and sexist language. 

51.   Separate classes for boys and girls in particular fields of study have
been introduced.  To create an interest in technology among young girls,
summer courses in technology for girls are proposed in some European
countries.  In a pilot project in Sweden, girls are taught how to speak freely
and to present their opinion while boys are taught to write and to listen. 
Experience has shown that equality must be mainstreamed in the teaching
process in order to give boys and girls equal opportunities in education. 
Teachers and school managers must learn about different conditions for boys
and girls at school so that they can take the action necessary to counteract
prejudice and gender-related problems. 

52.   Some Governments have activated a number of instruments to promote
gender awareness in education, such as courses for teachers, development of
teaching materials, experimental projects and training centres that focus on
various actors, including the girls and their parents, teachers and
administrators.  In some countries, schools use federal funds to implement
professional development programmes providing teachers with effective
strategies for gender-fair and culturally sensitive teaching. 

53.   A few countries have established national plans of action to promote
greater equality in education.  In Sweden, the long-term objective is that
neither sex should constitute less than 40 percent of the students in any
educational programme and that the proportion of female school leaders should
be increased to at least 20 per cent during the first five-year period, a goal
that was fully attained and exceeded by 35 per cent by 1993.  Since 1985,
current education policy in Uganda is encouraging affirmative action in favour
of women until gender balance is attained.  This policy is being implemented
in terms of enrolment in governmental institutions of higher learning.

54.   Different forms of awareness-raising programmes and pilot projects are
being carried out.  Many countries in developed and developing countries have
conducted information campaigns to increase girls' awareness of the need for
and advantages of continued education.  Non-governmental organizations are
playing a critical role in carrying out mass public campaigns for awareness-
raising.  In some countries, special activities for girls have been organized
in response to research that shows that girls seem to struggle and suffer more
than boys as they move into adulthood.  In the United States, the event "Take
our Daughters to Work Day" mobilized parents, educators, employers and other
caring adults and millions of girls who participated in 1993 and 1994. 
Similar activities which challenge and prevent stereotyped career choices of
girls have been organized in other countries.  Non-governmental organizations
have also made contributions in the form of scholarships and awards programmes
for training assistance to women who need to upgrade their skills (especially
single parents). 

                5.  Action by the international community

55.   The most important joint activities of the international community in
the field of education was the World Conference on Education for All, convened
jointly by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank, in Jomtien (Thailand) in
1990.  It represented a global consensus on an expanded vision of basic
education and a commitment to ensure that the basic learning needs of all
children, youth and adults are met effectively in all countries. 3/ 

56.   With regard to children in emergency situations, such as refugee
children, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well
as UNESCO and UNICEF, is providing for educational projects within the limits
of its budget.  The mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for
Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) comprises explicitly the provision
of education in addition to relief and health services for Palestinian
refugees.  UNRWA has carried out a variety of educational programmes,
including vocational training for women.  For a transitional period, students
from South Africa are being granted awards through the United Nations
Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa. 

57.   The bilateral donor community has made significant advances in promoting
a gender perspective on basic education.  Donors have implemented a variety of
projects supporting basic education while focusing on questions of educational
access and retention, supporting student and female teachers, assisting in
curricula and textbook production and providing teacher training, literacy and
vocational training. 


      1/     General Assembly resolution 34/180, annex, art. 10.

      2/     As of 3 November 1994, there were 138 States Parties to the
Convention, including all of the States of Latin America and the Caribbean,
almost all the States in Europe, South-eastern and Eastern Asia, and a
majority of the States in the other regions.

      3/     World Declaration on Education for All and Framework for Action
to Meet Basic Learning Needs, World Conference on Education for All, Jomtien,
Thailand, 5-9 March 1990.

      4/     General Assembly resolution 44/25, art. 28.

      5/     Report of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the
Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women:  Equality, Development
and Peace, Nairobi, 15-26 July 1985 (United Nations publication, Sales No.
E.85.IV.10), chap. I, sect. A, paras. 163-173.

      6/     "Progress at the national, regional and international levels in
the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the
Advancement of Women" (E/CN.6/1990/5).

      7/     Economic and Social Council resolution 1990/15, annex.

      8/     UNESCO, World Education Report (Paris, 1993).



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