GENDER AND LANGUAGE EDUCATION IN MOROCCO A Comparative Perspective MOHA ENNAJI Email: firstname.lastname@example.org“People are the real wealth of nations—and education enables them to live healthier, happier and more productive lives…” World Bank Education Strategy 2020
Objectives and Theoretical Framework Objectives: -reflect upon how to safeguard and support gender equality and girls’ right to education as a basic human right. -discuss the scale of the legal provisions relevant to gender equality, and debate the most critical issues that require vital attention in the context of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. -propose a set of general recommendations and actions to be taken for their consequential execution.Theoretical Framework: The Intersectionality sociological theory first highlighted by Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) and then by (McCall 2001).
IntroductionFirst of all, let’s make a distinction between “gender” and“sex”. Unlike sex, gender is not a physical attribute, rather, itis a social construct determined by cultural beliefs, socialnorms, attitudes, values, tradition, and practices of a givensociety and refers to gender roles, functions and relationsbetween men and women (Ennaji & Sadiqi, 2011).Gender gaps between men and women exist in all societies,including the developed ones, and they are an outcome ofcultural, educational, legal, social, and economicdiscriminations suffered by the female population. Gender equality is attained only when all forms of inequityare removed and equal opportunities are provided to womenand men so that they can equally contribute to and benefitfrom economic growth and social development.
• Gender equality is a basic law that applies to all contexts and policies, including those relevant to the right to education. In education, gender equality should not be confined to access only, but it should occur at all levels of education. Gender equality necessitates equal opportunities for both boys and girls to access learning but also requires equality in the teaching and learning activities, in the quality of education provided, in learning achievements and eventually equality in employment chances and earnings (Ennaji, 2008).• Gender issues in education have started to gain importance and to manifest themselves in many parts of the world, including countries in the MENA region, albeit in varying degrees (Taylor, 2004; Zittleman & Sadker, 2002).
In an ideal world, the gender approach should beintroduced into teacher training and the teachingprofession in all disciplines. However, this oftendoes not occur for four main reasons: i) lack ofinstructor background knowledge, ii) lack ofinterest in gender issues, iii) time constraints,and iv) wrong beliefs that gender issues nolonger exist. Thus, attention should be given togender through individual subjects like languageteaching (Sanders, 2002; Cushman, 2005).
The Right to Education is a Fundamental Human RightDespite the fact that gender equality is a human right,included in the Education For All (EFA) goals and theMillennium Development Goals (MDGs), continuingobstacles impede girls’ right to education, legally andpractically. In fact, the EFA Global Monitoring Report(2010) mentions that “young girls accounted for 54% of theglobal out-of school population in 2007. The proportion ofout-of school girls is highest in the MENA States”1. Thisregion is the most backward concerning gender equality ineducation. The (2009) UNESCO report indicated thatwomen and girls are frequently excluded from educationwhile the persistence of gender stereotyping, especially inhigh schools, often determines future job opportunities.
The 4-As Framework Education is an empowering tool and an indispensable means to realize other human rights and a prerequisite for achieving education for all and development. I shall use the “4-As framework” for indentifying and clarifying obligation relevant to the right to education, devised by the late Katarina Tomaševski, the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education. These are: Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability and Adaptability demanding that education be generally available, accessible, acceptable, and adapted to learners’ pedagogical and social needs. This implies that States should make the right to education for girls and women available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable (Zittleman & Sadker, 2002). .
Education For All• UNESCO has a firm determination to implement the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The Convention prohibits any discrimination in the field of education “based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic condition or birth”. UNESCO puts emphasis on action at the national level for generalizing access to quality education for all without discrimination or exclusion.• The major goal of Education For All (EFA) is to “eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality". Despite the improved situation towards gender parity in education, gender discrimination persists in many countries of the MENA region, mainly in higher education.
Hurdles to girls’ access to and success in education• Several factors hinder gender equality in the education sector. UNESCO Institute of Statistics groups them into the following main categories:• Socio-economic factors, such as poverty, direct school costs, working children, underage marriage, or cultural factors that impact the choices of families and students, such as parents’ level of education, attitudes to girls’ education, girls/women’s roles, traditional/religious beliefs, etc. (Ennaji, 2008)• Political and institutional factors, such as education policies determining budget allocation, quality of syllabi, stereotypes in curricula/ textbooks, school context, distance to home, school canteens, sanitation facilities, teachers’ attitudes and practices, school security, etc. See (Taylor, 2004; Cushman, 2005; Ennaji, 2005).
Facts of life• Weak implementation of free and compulsory education;• Low enrolment and high school drop-out rates are observed for girls.• Most MENA societies have cultural restrictions that might hamper girls’ education• Poverty is a major obstacle that reduces girls’ equal access to education, especially in rural areas. Other hurdles include early marriage, distance from school, cultural attitudes and patriarchal ideology (Ennaji & Sadiqi, 2011).• Women are absent or barely present in decision making positions.• School costs prevent parents from sending their children to school. Sometimes parents do not even register their children after birth to avoid having to send them to school.• Girls’ retention in schools is an equally serious issue to access. There are high drop-out rates, mainly during the transition from primary to secondary levels.• In some countries, mixed education is disallowed..
The Cases of Sudan, Yemen and Jordan• For example, in Sudan and Yemen, the situation is particularly bad: In Sudan, 45% of children of school age are not schooled. As a result, literacy rates of women in the region are approximately 55%, according to the latest report of UNDP.• In Sudan, the reasons are linked to civil war and Sudans dire economic context - as well as to the parents’ mentality that “forces their daughters to stay at home to prepare for their real life, their married life"• Similarly, in Yemen, children have to be taught in classes of a hundred or more because of lack of education infrastructure and poor financial resources. The Yemeni conservative society often objects to the girls being educated by male teachers and to mixed schools.• In Jordan, enrolment is high reaching 86 percent; however, girls drop out in secondary school because of underage arranged marriages; many girls are pressurized into marrying young (see Sadiqi & Ennaji, 2010).
Islam Encourages Women’s Education• In fact, Islam encourages girls as well as boys to educate themselves. We must be careful not to confuse real Islam with the prevalent form of twisted Islam. Contrary to the common perception, Islam emancipated women and gave them their deserved respect.• The West did not give women the right to vote till early 1900s whereas Islam did this 1400 years ago.• Unfortunately many people in the Middle East and in other parts of the world, where Islam is practiced feel that women do not need education. This is contrary to Islamic beliefs and what the Prophet has written and said. Islam specifically says that women should be treated equally and with respect (Ennaji ,2012).
Remedial Action• As mentioned earlier, the main causes behind hurdles to girls’ education are often poverty, tradition, and patriarchy favouring boys’ education, underage marriages for girls, as well as absence of relevant laws. To combat this type of discrimination will necessitate major reforms of legislation, policy, in order to guarantee equal access to all levels of education.• In addition to legal and education reforms, awareness raising on gender issues among decision-makers, teachers, parents, students, as well as the general public is necessary in an attempt to fight against gender-based legal, social, cultural, attitudinal discriminations.
Morocco’s Commitment to Girls’ Education• Morocco is fully committed to the international human rights principles and standards. All the texts quoted from the Moroccan amended constitution, The National Charter, and The National Agenda are compatible with article number 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.• Morocco ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2003, recognizing women’s rights as inviolable human rights and combating all types of discrimination against them. In 2008, Morocco withdrew all its reservations about CEDAW, in a speech made by King Mohammed VI, with the aim to enhance the legal position of women on the basis of the principle of equal opportunity and the application of international declarations ratified by Morocco. This decision may be regarded as an important indication that Morocco is committed to gender equality and to combating all sorts of violence against women (Ennaji & Sadiqi, 2011).
The Charter for Education and Training (2000)• In Morocco, the most noteworthy public policies concerning gender equality in education are the Charter for Education and Training (2000) and subsequently the Najah Emergency Plan (2009) which was put into effect in order to speed up the attainment of the Charter’s goals.• In addition to combating illiteracy, upgrading the quality of education, and improving schools’ infrastructure, the Charter emphasized the generalization of education and its compulsory aspect in order to eradicate gender gaps, especially in rural areas which suffer from the highest rates of gender inequality. In order to attain these objectives, the Charter implemented various measures, namely:
• adopting a gender approach in the State’s budget;• revising textbooks in an attempt to eliminate gender stereotypes;• adopting a gender perspective in the textbooks;• scholarships for female and male students;• providing transportation to school to girls residing in rural areas;• building more schools, canteens and boarding schools to foster girls’ enrolment;• distributing one million school bags to students, nearly half of whom are girls;• giving flour and oil to parents who send their children to schools;• integrating human rights and citizenship education in the education sector, including curricula, syllabi, academic books and programmes;• appointing the central commission for human rights as a coordinating body in charge of the programmes of education.
The Najah Emergency Plan 2009-2012• The Najah emergency plan, was adopted in 2009, as a national strategy, to step up the application of the Charter and attain its objectives. Mainstreaming gender in education is one of the major goals of this strategy. The plan started by a thorough assessment of the gender situation in order to determine the issues and pinpoint realistic goals. Gender equality, which is politically and financially supported by the State, has been promoted through several programmes.• Existing projects focus on limiting drop-out rates, reviewing syllabi and textbooks, mainstreaming gender and training teachers on gender issues with emphasis on rural zones. The Najah emergency plan also targets building 600 boarding schools, providing 650 school buses, and rising the number of scholarships and canteens by 8 times, helping more girls to attend school.• The central goal is to make education accessible for all and guarantee gender equality.
This Goal was Realized through 3 Initiatives 1-The “Million District Initiative”: which focused on basic education in urban and rural areas. 2-To facilitate compulsory education direct financial assistance was provided to poor families. 280,000 students (girls and boys) benefited from this programme during the school year 2009 – 2010, which led to a remarkable increase in the enrolment rates in elementary schools (10.5%) and a 71% fall in the drop-out rates. 3-Distributing school meals, uniforms and providing transportation: 1,024,105 students benefited from school meals while 86,422 benefited from uniforms during the 2009 – 2010 school year. School transportation was provided in collaboration with local partners. This programme also aimed at increasing the number of scholarships.• Considerable progress towards gender equality in education has been made due to initiatives taken by the government and to the efforts of civil society associations in implementing the mid-term strategic workplan. However, these endeavours still need to be enhanced to guarantee gender equality in education.
General Recommendations• Carry out quantitative and qualitative research and studies at national and regional level on the gender perspective, analyzing major problems and issues of gender equality in education.• Support national efforts to revise and reform school textbooks and curricula in order to remove gender stereotypes• Emphasize the quality of education. Making basic education free and compulsory is helpful, but it does not really solve the dilemma of drop-outs, caused by the poor quality of education provided which does not always correspond to the real needs of the learners.• Encourage cooperation between the public and private sectors in providing good-quality education. Cooperation should also involve civil society; excellent results can be achieved if there is cooperation and steady communication between them all and local communities.
• The sensitization of public opinion on gender issues should be accelerated through the dissemination of information, studies and research findings, etc.• Learning from other experiences and devising strategic workplans that correspond to the needs of students is essential to achieve good results. Some good practices that have contributed to the improvement of the education systems in the region are: school mapping; decentralizing the education system; simplifying entrance procedures to schools; providing financial aid and scholarships;• Reintegrating school drop-outs into the formal education system and adapting education to suit their needs;• Training policy-makers, planners, teachers and other education personnel in gender sensitive teaching and learning practices.• Providing training activities on gender mainstreaming, especially for Trainers of Trainers (TOT) who can scale up training at country level, support training centres, develop training kits.• Establishing a unit within the Ministry of Education to be responsible for gender mainstreaming at all stages of intervention: diagnosis, planning, programming, implementing, monitoring, evaluating, and capacity building on gender equality and mainstreaming.• The participation of men in the promotion of gender equality is very important: gender equality is not and should not be seen as a women’s issue.
Promoting Gender Equality in English Language seem to pay less attention to the-Many researchers in the field of ELT Teachinggender issues in language teaching. This is equivalent to ignoring thesocial context of learners since English teaching does not occur in vacuumbut it is contextualized in a social environment. Since gender dynamics isone of social phenomena which takes place in the classroom, it issignificant for English teachers to pay attention to the gender dimension.One of the gender issues in the area of ELT is the sexist language resultingin the gender bias.-Research has revealed that male and female experiences in schoolcontexts can be greatly different. These different experiences usuallymake women feel less confident, pushes them to contribute less to theclass and to be regarded as less capable students.-By examining your teaching techniques with regard to gender issues, youwill become more sensitive to all students in your class and becomebetter positioned to relate to gender differences, disabilities, and othernontraditional orientations. Cultural specificities and differences in age orphysical ability can play a major part in a student’s ability to succeed.
Recommendations for promoting gender equality inEnglish Language Teaching-Try to use course material that clearly includes women andmen.-Call on shy students who don’t raise their hands.-Allow enough wait time before students respond to a questionyou have posed. Female students tend to take longer beforereplying.-Give Encouragement to female and male students.Frequently, women are not given the same amount or type ofencouragement and praise as are men. They are given short“yes”, or “uh-huh’s” and nods, while men are given verbalpraise or are encouraged to work harder. This differenttreatment can be very damaging.-Become aware of your comments to your students regardingtheir questions, answers, work etc.-Concentrate on challenging and supporting them all equally.
More Recommendations-Monitor Interruptions and raise students’ self-confidenceStudies show that girls tend to get interrupted more frequently than boys.When interruptions are frequent, students especially females, will choose notto speak and tend to lack confidence in their abilities.-Monitor Student Interactions to dissuade activities, comments, and jokesthat reflect stereotyping or bias, so that the classroom climate can becomesupportive. Sexist jokes and analogies are inappropriate. Other jokes basedon race, color, ethnicity, e.g., jokes about Berbers, Jews, blacks, disabledpeople, or Christians are also inappropriate.-Regularize forms of address : calling boys by their last name but girls bytheir first name or vice versa is delicate. Use the same form of address for allyour students to imply that all students in the classroom have the samestatus. -Use inclusive language as an important acknowledgement of the presenceof girls in your class. Use gender inclusive language such as “he” and “she”interchangeably, or find non-gender specific terms to refer to people. Findsubstitutes for terms that exclude women or others from the content of yourclass, e.g., substitute “chairperson”, for “chairman”, “workforce” for“manpower”, etc.
ConclusionTwo years to the 2015 deadline fixed by the international community,it is today more vital than ever before that every endeavour must bemade and that laws and policies be improved and implemented, if girlsand women in the MENA region are to exercise their right to education.All human beings, men and women, regardless of gender, age, or racedeserve good-quality education. Any attempt to make excuses ofwhatever sort is unacceptable. "Culture” or “Tradition" is just a pretextto subjugate people. One would find it impossible to quote anything inthe Hadith (sayings) of the Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) or in the HolyQuran that allow or demand minor education for women.Becoming more aware of the role gender plays in your classroom willhelp you to understand all of your students better, and developingsensitivity to the gender implications of the language you use in classwill help you and your students achieve greater teaching and learningresults.