WOMEN AND ACCESS TO UNIVERSITY EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: TRENDS, BARRIERS AND ENHANCEMENT STRATEGIES
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
University education is very significant in this 21st century for a resourceful economy in this competitive global economy. It is a vibrant tool used in training the workable workforce of an economy. University education provides individual and societal benefits; for an individual it gives him the privilege of being employed, earn a better salary and upward mobility. Other benefits attached are: better quality of living, improved health and greater opportunities in life.
Bearing the individual and societal benefits of education in mind, access and gender equality of youths are necessary in achieving individual goals and social justice. According to UNESCO’s principles, every child must have equal opportunity and access to education (principle of non-discrimination) without regard to race, sex or any distinctions, economic or social (UNESCO’s homepage). Thus, there is much need to promote equity in the education sector. Why because a female who is denied access to education based on some factors like religion, family background, etc represents a loss of human capital for society. The absence of access to university education and its success contributes to underdeveloped human resources.
The argument that women in traditional Nigerian society are discriminated is much discussed by scholars of history of education in the country. It has been discovered from findings that women contribute immensely to national and international development of a country (Sator, 1992; Ekejiuba, 1991; Okonjo, 1991). The barrier placed on Nigerian women calls for much attention. Yet it is quite obvious that women are more involved than men in most areas of the economy, like in agricultural which was in the 90’s the mainstay of Nigerians (Adeyokunu, 1981). Despite this, women are victims of social order and treated as second class citizens of the country. They are discriminated in the education sector, labour market, and political sphere. This discrimination has led to the increase in poverty, as their rights are suppressed and education deprived which is needed to improve their state of living. A very obvious area where Nigerian women face imbalance is in the education sector. This imbalance in the education sector has created much room for other forms of discrimination amongst them (Afigbo, 1991).
However, many studies have reported that socio-economic improvement of nations can be greatly achieved through women education and empowerment (Stephen, 1992; Palmer and Almaz, 1991; Caldwell, 1979). Little wonder Rathgeber (2003), in his study raised the issue that there is need to integrate women in social and economic development. It is due to this that there have been efforts to encourage women education in Nigeria in recent times. A clear example is the efforts of informal groups and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), who through their programmes have promoted female education in the north and south parts of the country; alongside efforts by the state governments of the north to promote education for women. For instance the establishment of girls schools in different states of the country.
Furthermore, the National Universities Commission Annual Reports since 1988 show a reasonable increase in female education in Nigeria compared to what it was some decades ago. Similarly, it is noticeable that the numbers of females that are in post-primary education have reached up to the number of males in southern Nigeria.
The standing of women in sub-Saharan African universities portrays women’s position in the society. Women in sub-Saharan Africa are underrepresented in education and those of them that force their way to be educated opt for courses that are termed “female courses” like arts, education and social sciences course. On graduation, women are faced with poor paying jobs, unemployment and fewer chances to advance.
Meanwhile, the primary aim of education is to produce a formidable work force of a country. Thus, if Nigerian and African women as a whole are given access to education, it will broaden their skills and give them access to new resources; which is an added advantage to the economy (Shaheed, 1995). Globally, it is estimated that women labour force participation has increased from 36% in 1990 to 40% by 1997 (Razavi, 2003). Recent data indicate that, globally over the last five decades women’s labour force participation has increased and women today make up over 45% of the world’s workforce with more women than ever before participating in the labour force or actively seeking for jobs (ILO, 2007). But besides the above general picture country specific data from the ILO and United Nations Population Division (EFA Global Monitoring Report, 2003/04) show significant increase in female labour force participation in such countries as Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.
However, in other to improve women’s access to university education in Nigeria: trends, barriers and enhancement strategies, this study is being carried out.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Over time, gender inequality has always been a global problem and it is still noticeable in the education system of Nigeria. For some obvious reasons in Nigeria, women are not granted access to education because of religion, family background, unstable income, etc.
Before now, it was believed that women education ends in the kitchen. Some Nigerian parents still stick to this saying that they cut-off their female children from going to school. They see as waste of resources sending a female child to school, as she will definitely be married off to a man.
Another problem associated with this study is the problem of admission. In Nigerian universities, the trend of giving admission is against the females. They are discriminated from studying some courses because of their sex.
All these and more are the problems this study seeks to proffer solutions to.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is to examine women and their access to university education in Nigeria: trends, barriers and enhancement strategies.
Other specific objectives include:
1.To investigate the current rate at which women have access to education in Nigeria.
2.To examine the significant relationship between women education and Nigeria’s GDP.
3.To discover the consequences of women’s lack of access to education in Nigeria.
4.To examine how to expand access to women’s university education in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions are generated to guide this study:
- What is the current rate at which women have access to education in Nigeria?
- What is the significant relationship between women education and Nigeria’s GDP?
- What are the consequences of women’s lack of access to education in Nigeria?
- How should access to women’s university education in Nigeria be expanded?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: There is no significant relationship between women education and Nigeria’s GDP.
H1: There is a significant relationship between women education and Nigeria’s GDP.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is meant to inform, educate, sensitize and enlighten the general public, university administrators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government on women and their access to education.
It is meant to educate the general public that they should debunk the notion that females should not be granted education. It is a wrong notion and should be dealt with, even as according to UNESCO, everyone has a right to education not minding their race, sex or any distinctions, economic or social status.
University administrators have a role to play in giving women access to education. They are supposed to give admissions to students to the desired departments of their choice based on merit and not other factors.
Also, NGOs and the government have serious roles to play in promoting women access to education. They need to embark on policies and programmes that will help in achieving this.
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 women and their access to university education in Nigeria: trends, barriers and enhancement strategies.
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
ACCESS: In education, the term access typically refers to the ways in which educational institutions and policies ensure—or at least strive to ensure—that students have equal and equitable opportunities to take full advantage of their education. Increasing access generally requires schools to provide additional services or remove any actual or potential barriers that might prevent some students from equitable participation in certain courses or academic programs. Factors such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, perceived intellectual ability, past academic performance, special-education status, English-language ability, and family income or educational-attainment levels—in addition to factors such as relative community affluence, geographical location, or school facilities—may contribute to certain students having less “access” to educational opportunities than other students.
UNIVERSITY: Is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which grants academic degrees in various subjects. Universities typically provide undergraduate education and postgraduate education.
TREND: A general direction in which something is developing or changing.
BARRIER: A fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access.
ENHANCEMENT: A change or the process of change, brought about, to improve a product or service and to increase its value, is known as enhancement. A variety of enhancements can be used in business to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of different processes and functionalities.
STRATEGIES: A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.
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