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Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 23:25:31 -0600 (CST)
From: IGC News Desk <newsdesk@igc.apc.org>
Subject: EDUCATION-TANZANIA: Quota System Offers Hope For Girls
Article: 84055
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.13231.19991208091535@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Quota System Offers Hope For Girls

By Assumpta Massoi, IPS, 6 December 1999

DAR ES SALAAM, Dec 6 (IPS) - It is afternoon. Eliudi Namganga (not real name) is having lunch at the University of Dar es Salaam's cafeteria.

I'm happy that I have joined this university where I am now pursuing Bachelor of Science, majoring in biology and chemistry, she says.

Eliudi joined the university through a new programme launched to encourage girls to continue with their education.

My form six results were not so good, so I applied, knowing I will not get a chance, but fortunately this university launched a new programme to enable girls like me to have access to studies, she says.

Eliudi is among the 83 girls who wrote their examinations under the Pre-entry Science Programme for girls. Seventy-five of the girls passed, the rest failed.

Professor Mathew Luhanga, vice-chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam, says the programme, which started in the 1997/98 academic year, aims to bring about gender balance in the enrollment of students on the campus.

The programme is, however, proving to be unpopular among some Tanzanian men. If women are fighting for equality why are they calling for such positive discrimination. They should compete with men, says Abdulla Nangesho, an undergraduate at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Others, however, disagree. If women are given opportunity they can perform wonders, says a lecturer at the university of Dar es Salaam.

Eliudi did not perform well in her university entrance examinations because she had to take care of her brothers following the death of their parents. With little time to study she simply didn't do well in her final examination.

Augustina Massaba, chief administrative officer at Tanzania's Institute of Adult Education at the University of Dar es Salaam, plans to reduce gender imbalances at the institute. Our society is male dominated, priority is given to men. A family can send both children to school but when it faces financial constraints girls are left behind so as to enable boys to go to school, she says.

Latest statistics from the ministry of education show pupil enrollment ratio to be 50/50, but as they go up the number of girls goes down. At secondary level the percentage of women goes down to 46. At the university of Dar es Salaam, for example, women make up only 16 percent of the total number of students, estimated to be about 5,000.

The overall average proportion of female to total number of enrolled students increased from 16 percent in 1994/95 to 18 percent in 1997/98, say the statistics.

Participants to the course, including Eliudi, underscores the importance of the scheme, but call for improved learning conditions at secondary schools as well as motivating and encouraging weak learners.

Massaba believes there is a need to forge links between her institute and the university of Dar es Salaam to ensure that girls get a place in the higher institution of learning.

She urged non-governmental organisations (ngos) and government agencies to educate the society on the importance and meaning of affirmative action at education level. This system is meant to level the ground and once things are okay we will not need it anymore, says Masssaba.

Addressing a women conference in the 1980s the late Tanzania's founding father, Julius Nyerere, described women as indicators of the level of development of any nation. For any country to be counted a developed nation, he said, it must ensure that women have access to education and health services.(END/IPS/am/mn/99)