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Table Of Contents:

1) Gender Factor in Decision Making:  A Case Study of Preschool Teachers in a Progressive Rural Community in Kenya by Muganda Nelima Beatrice

2) Gender Mainstreaming for Afforestation in Kakamega South District, Kenya by Irene Alianda Ashioya


Abstract:

Gender Factor in Decision Making: 
A Case Study of Preschool Teachers in a Progressive Rural Community in Kenya by Muganda Nelima Beatrice


INTRODUCTION

Mankind owes children the best it can offer in education to unfold unlimited potentials that could lead to ‘a flowering of a new kind of civilization’ (Maslow 1987, 123). With an average of 60 per cent of the world’s target population enrolled, this level of education has grown in popularity over the years conferring multiple educational, social and economic benefits to the children (Barker 1987; Phillips 1987). Quality early childhood education has the capacity to develop a child’s full potential by catering to cognitive, emotional, social, protective, and physical health and nutritional needs (Morrison 1988; Young 1996).

 

Throughout the world, provision of early childhood education and care is largely the responsibility of women. Problems peculiar to women therefore permeate the early childhood care settings, impacting the services availed to young children. Adams and Kabiru (1995) observe that fulfilling the goals of early childhood education in Kenya calls for teachers of the highest calibre. Yet, women have been treated very much like a minority group (Baron and Byrne 1981, 191) making them to think less of themselves, unable to challenge their male counterparts (GOK/UNICEF 1998). Serious gender issues in contemporary African society tend to be explained away as the African way of life allowing gender disparities to snowball into alarming proportions (Human Rights Watch 2003).

Male chauvinism, retrogressive cultural practices and perpetual discrimination of women permeates all aspects of public and private life in Kenya.  Grand declarations and detailed action plans on CEDAW (1979) and Millennium Development Goals (UN 2008) regarding women empowerment have proved futile. The proportion of women in wage employment in the modern sector is still lower than that of men (Republic of Kenya 2008), while poverty is significantly higher in female headed households (MOF & P. 2000). Women representation in decision making positions is poor, with 22 (9.8 per cent) females out of the 222 Members of Parliament and only two of them full cabinet ministers (FIDA 2008).

 

Gender based roles are also manifest in the early childhood education programme in Kenya (ADB/ADF 2007). Experts in education administration argue for the participation of teachers in managerial decision making on the basis of their professional knowledge and their responsibility of delivering the curriculum (Hoy and Miskel 1991). Past empirical evidence reveals that teachers’ decisions dominate instruction as opposed to school management affairs (Boyer 1990). In Kenya, the Education Act (1972) delineates responsibility for different types of decisions. Teachers maintain autonomy in instructional activities while managerial decisions are made by the school management board. The policy of devolution of authority to the schools provides for the inclusion of the preschool teacher in the school management committee (Republic of Kenya 1997). Despite this policy shift, the evidence indicates minimal involvement of preschool teachers (GOK/UNICEF 1998) and superficial participation (Ackers, Migoli and Nzomo 2001) by a majority of the members of the school committee in decision making.

 

A gender policy is in place to promote gender mainstreaming in the education system. The policy articulates equal educational opportunities for both boys and girls and also focuses on elimination of gender stereotypes in the curriculum. The policy is silent over gender concerns that have relegated preschool teachers to the periphery of decision making in the preschools. In general, policy-makers have held that membership of the preschool teachers in the school management committee serves to devolve decision-making at the school level. This viewpoint can largely be disputed on account of the special disadvantages encountered by preschool teachers due to their gender and associated setbacks.

 

Male chauvinism is a reality in the Kenyan society; retrogressive cultural practices and perpetual discrimination of women have made the women think less of their selves and unable to challenge their male counterparts.  The problem is that, the leadership of the early childhood education programme is mainly in the hands of men who lack knowledge and skills in early childhood education and child development. Yet the preschool teachers who possess professional knowledge and whose daily actions determine learning outcomes among children are relegated. A situation where the dominant view is not informed while the professional view is silenced is perplexing, and has the potential to hamper the work of the preschool teachers and programme quality. As such, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the gender based roles on decision making authority at the preschool level. The study satisfied three objectives: first, to find out the extent to which preschool teachers participate in decisions regarding quality early childhood education; second, to establish whether there was a significant difference between the involvement of preschool teachers in decisions regarding structural dimensions and contextual dimensions of early childhood education quality; and third, to portray gender influences demonstrated in the participation of preschool teachers in decision-making. By concentrating on the preschools, the study addressed a gap left by concentration of past research on participatory decision making at subsequent levels of education. Further, the study illuminated a dimension of gender issues beyond enrolments that will stimulate a search for solutions by policy makers to enhance programme quality through empowerment of the teachers.

 

A qualitative case study design was employed to explore gender based roles in 50 community preschools in Lurambi Division, Kakamega District, Kenya. The study population comprised 242 participants chosen through purposive random sampling based on the membership of the school committee. The participants included: 144 school committee members (3 members from each of the 48 school committees including the chairman, the treasurer and the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) representative); 50 preschool teachers, and 48 head teachers.  

 

Information was gathered using questionnaires administered to 98 participants (48 head teachers and 50 preschool teachers). Questionnaire items covered socio-demographic aspects of the preschools and preschool teachers as well as the extent to which preschool teachers were involved in making decisions regarding parameters of early childhood education quality. Additionally, the preschool teachers participated in 50 key informant interviews. All the participants (242) participated in 48 focus group discussions organized for individual school committees to explore their understanding of quality early childhood education. The study was embedded in the School Based Management (SBM) conceptual framework. The SBM presents models of redistribution of decision making authority at the school level that are instrumental in mapping out the extent to which preschool teachers are involved in reaching various decisions that affect the quality of early childhood education in selected community preschools in Kenya. The most effective and efficient decisions would facilitate ways for teachers to fulfill their obligations in programme delivery.

 

A pilot study was carried out and yielded a Pearson Product Moment Correlation Co-efficient (r) of 0.91 by which the questionnaire was judged as reliable. Further, the interview items and FDGs were also found dependable based on consistent emergence of themes in the two sets of discussions.  Fieldwork was initiated in January 2007 through July 2008.  The findings can be generalised to preschools in Africa that are set in rural areas with sedentary populations, which have few informal sector activities and a high incidence of poverty (MOF & P 2000).

 

This paper is organized in five chapters. The first chapter provides a background that sets the context for the rest of the study. The problem and its clarification components are also articulated. In the second chapter, literature relevant to the study is reviewed. The literature explicates the conceptual framework followed in the investigation of decision making in the early childhood education programme. The findings are presented and discussed in Chapter Four while Chapter Five captures the conclusions.


Gender Mainstreaming for Afforestation in Kakamega South District, Kenya by Irene Alianda Ashioya




Executive Summary

Gender mainstreaming is the public policy concept of assessing the different implications for men and women of any planned policy action, including legislation and programmes in all areas and levels (UNEP 2006). Gender describes the perceptions, norms and roles that separate men from women. The Millennium Summit in New York came up with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the seventh goal stressed ensuring environmental sustainability. A review carried out on the implementation of gender perspective showed that there has been no real integration of gender issues into global environment and sustainable development policies and activities, let alone a thorough mainstreaming of gender concerns in these issues.  The country reports given have had inadequate coverage of the women and the environment issue (UNEP 2006).

 

The general objective of this study was to examine the role of both females and males in afforestation issues. The first objective was to investigate awareness of males and females of the afforestation procedures. The second objective was to establish the roles played by men and women in matters of afforestation. Thirdly, the study endeavoured to identify the beneficiaries of forest resources by gender. The challenges encountered by females and males formed the fourth objective. Lastly, the study sought to establish the perception of stakeholders on afforestation issues. The study was guided by the Harvard Framework, which investigates and analyses who owns what, accesses what, controls what, and makes decisions among other roles. The theory guided the conceptual framework that represents the interrelationships among the variables that were used in this study.

 

The study utilized a combination of quantitative and some qualitative methods to gather data on the subject and employed a descriptive survey design. The study targeted male and female adults involved in the afforestation process, the forest officers and opinion leaders. Simple random sampling was used to select 10 per cent (156) community members involved in afforestation. Purposive sampling was used to select 30 per cent of the forest officers and opinion leaders to give a total of 17 key informants. Instruments were validated by research experts at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology. A pilot test was done to test reliability of the instruments and the Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient of 0.84 confirmed that the instruments were reliable.

 

The study found the majority (97.4 per cent) of the respondents are aware of afforestation procedures although the levels of awareness vary. However, it was noted that most (66.7 per cent) respondents had not attended any sensitization workshop. Females were more involved in planting and weeding seedlings while males were more involved in transplanting seedlings. Female’s contributions to afforestation are documented to some extent. The study found that males benefit more from forest resources than females. Financial constraints emerged as the leading challenge facing both gender. Lack of rain was cited as the most negative impact from depletion of forests. The majority of stakeholders concurred that men discourage women from planting trees. The multiple roles of women and their negative attitudes were perceived to be a hindrance to tree planting. Political interference did not have any effect on females in forest conservation. The community members lacked information on key areas like choice of seeds, tree nursery practices and pest management.

 

It is recommended that the Ministry of Environmental Conservation, through the District forest officers, organize sensitization workshops on what trees to plant in different areas.

 

It was also noted that females’ contributions in afforestation should be documented to help bring others on board on matters of afforestation. Communities should be encouraged to form groups that can come up with tree planting projects. These will encourage team work that leads to high levels of productivity. The government should bring donors on board to purchase seeds or seedlings and polythene bags for communities that are not economically empowered. Females should be sensitized to shun retrogressive practices on tree planting.

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