PROBLEMS OF GENDER EQUITY IN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The problem of gender equity is mostly recognized in developing countries of the world. This problem is capable of affecting the sustainable development of any economy; thus to avoid this, there is need to provide same education offered the males to the females. According to the national policy on education (2004), every Nigerian child has the right to equal educational chance. It is a known fact that women contribute meaningfully to national development, but a closer look at the education system of Nigeria shows that female education is relegated. This problem has not only affected females access to education, but their performance towards national development.
Since the advent of education, it has been a major resource used by both men and women to break the barriers of social oppression, gain power and prosperity. Issues associated with gender equity in higher institutions have been much talked of right from the 90s and even handled by Regional Consultations like in Havana November 1996, Palermo in September, 1997 and Beirut in March 1998. Due to this, the principles of Universal Human Rights Article 26 paragraph 1 come into play; which advocates that education is for all including higher education. Hence, the need to do away with disparities in gender in higher institutions is very pertinent because the presence of gender inequality affects females career development, reduces human resources and increases illiteracy in Nigeria.
Education for all in Nigeria started in 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated the policy of everyone having access to education alongside the World Declaration on ‘Education for All’ in January 1990 which made the Nigerian government together with some international agencies promote female education. This is yet to be actualized as Nigeria still faces political, social and economic instability. Research has it that female illiteracy in Nigeria is about 45% of the population and adult literacy being 35% (UNESCO, 2000). In Nigeria, the percentage of females in secondary, primary and tertiary institutions is relatively low compared to the males. According UNESCO Report (1995), 86 million of the 150 million children aged 6-11 not-in-school were girls. The noted factors militating against female children education in Nigeria include cultural and religious beliefs, economic factors, and lack of access. A current data shows that about 70% of women in Nigeria are illiterates, while 25.4% of women living in the urban areas have no education and 50.2% in the rural areas.
Gender inequality is obvious in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, backed with cases of gender biases, discrimination like sexual harassment (Aina, 2003). Though it is notable to point out that some African universities do not take the case of gender equity to serious consideration (Gunawardana et al, 2005). Gender inequality in Nigerian universities is noticeable in the following areas students’ enrolment, staff employment and administrative policies. In the case of students’ enrolment, it is observable that most female students are given admission into faculties like education, corporate and rural development and humanities; compared to males who gain admission into engineering and other science related faculty (Situation Analysis Report, OAU Ife, 2002).
Female education in Nigeria is faced with many problems ranging from ignorance, poverty, religious belief, unwanted pregnancy, early marriage and preference of male children to female. Similarly, schools in Nigeria are not gender friendly, therefore cannot meet with the students (most especially females) gender needs and demands.
In line with the preceding statement, this study is carried out to examine the problems of gender equity in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The issue of gender inequality has lingered for long in the history of Nigeria. It is noticeable almost in every facet of the Nigerian economy, in the sense that females are discriminated in the religious, political, and social phases of the Nigerian economy.
This discrimination has crept into the educational system of Nigeria, especially the higher education. In the higher education, we have cases of gender inequality with cultists harassing the females; females’ assigned to specific departments/facilities, number of females admitted into the university, etc.
Disparity in higher education still exists in staff recruitment, appointment and promotion.
Other factors militating gender equality include cultural barriers, religious barriers and economic factors.
These are some of the problems associated with gender equity in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is problems of gender equity in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
Other specific objectives include:
a) To identify solutions to gender inequality in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
b) To examine the efforts made by the Nigerian government in fighting gender inequality in higher institutions.
c) To examine the relationship between female education and level of illiteracy in Nigeria.
d) To examine the relationship between female education and manpower development of Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions are generated to guide this study:
a) What are the problems of gender equity in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria?
b) What are the solutions to gender inequality in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria?
c) Are there efforts made by the Nigerian government in fighting gender inequality in higher institutions?
d) What is the relationship between female education and level of illiteracy in Nigeria?
e) What is the relationship between female education and manpower development of Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: There is no relationship between female education and manpower development of Nigeria.
H1: There is a relationship between female education and manpower development of Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is meant to inform the general public, the government and administrators of higher learning in Nigeria on the need to promote gender equity in the country.
The general public needs to know the relevance of female education to an individual, his family and to the country at large.
Government and international agencies need to improve and adopt better programmes and policies that will enhance gender equity in Nigeria.
Based on the purpose of the study, universities administrators need to abhor gender inequality; among the students of staff of various institutions across the country.
This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study is restricted to problems of gender equity in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
Limitations of study
- 1. Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
- 2. Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
PROBLEM: A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
GENDER EQUITY: Is the process of allocating resources, programs and decision-making fairly to both males and females. This requires ensuring that everyone has access to a full range of opportunities to achieve the social, psychological and physical benefits that come from participating and leading in sport and physical activity. It does not necessarily mean making the same programs and facilities available to both males and females. Gender equity requires that girls and women be provided with a full range of activity and program choices that meet their needs, interests and experiences. Therefore, some activities may be the same as those offered to boys and men, some may be altered, and some may be altogether different. Human rights legislation, including the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has affirmed the principles of equity while making provisions for affirmative action programs to eliminate disadvantages.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Higher education, post-secondary education, or third level education is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after secondary education. Often delivered at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology, higher education is also available through certain college-level institutions, including vocational schools, trade schools, and other career colleges that award academic degrees or professional certifications. Tertiary education at non-degree level is sometimes referred to as further education or continuing education as distinct from higher education.
UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONAL (UNESCO): Is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.
Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004). National Policy on Education. Lagos: NERDC Press.
UNESCO (1995): Higher Education in the 21st Century, Vision and Action. Report of the World Conference on Education. UNESCO, Paris 5th-9th October 1995.Website.
UNESCO (2000): Recent Developments and Future Prospects of Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 21st Century: A meeting of Higher Education Partners, 23 June, Paris: UNESCO.
Gunawardana, Chandra, Joy Kwesiga, Amandina Lihamba, Louise Morley, Abiola Odejide, Lesley Shackleton, Annik Sorhaindo (2005), Gender Equity in Commonwealth Higher Education: Emerging Themes in Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda.
SAPA (2002), Social and Policy Analysis Study, FGN/UNICEF: Lagos, Nigeria
Aina S. (2003): Anatomy of Communications, Julian Publishers, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.