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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 8 NO 2, DECEMBER, 2010


 

EDUCATIONAL FUTURES AND INCREASE IN FEMALE ENROLMENT IN PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES IN NIGERIA

 

I.K. Olaoye

Department of Economics and Financial Studies, and

S.B. Labo-Popoola

General Studies Unit, Fountain University, Osogbo

E-mail: asveducated@yahoo.com,or  iklaoye@hotmail.com

 

 

Abstract

This paper examines the growing trend of demographic changes in the admission process in the educational sector in Nigeria. It is an analysis of the admission trend in privately owned Universities, using Fountain University, Osogbo as a case study. It was discovered that the number of female enrolment is on the rise. This increased interest in educational and professional training of the girl child in higher institutions of learning bespoke a silent revolution that will impact the structure and coloration of the labour market and the working class in the nearest future. Using secondary data from the archives of the University, supplemented with interview of selected students, it was discovered that the bulk of this admission offered to the feminine gender was by no means moderated to favour them as some of these female candidates have been discovered to out-perform their male counterparts in virtually all subjects areas taught.

 

Keywords: Girl-child, enrolment,  university, education

 

 


Introduction

All through history, women have been confined to the second place behind their male counterparts in all areas of human endeavors. Physically, biological determinism, in what seems like a support for male dominance, has restricted the woman’s ability beyond certain environmental demands. She has also been conditioned for generations to see herself in restricted roles (Oyewo, 1989). She was hardly classed as the quintessential warrior raised for the defense of the social and economic order, but rather as part of the trophy the man-warrior sets his target on. To buttress this point, Durosaro (1996) pointed out that she has been conditioned to “lean upon” the man by tradition. This perception, however, have been going through series of modification over the last couple of centuries.  Historically, it takes an Amazon of a woman to wrestle certain rights; especially the right to lead, from men and the evidence to this end abound in historical records. Biblically, it took a strong willed Deborah to lead heady Israeli men to victory against the Canaanites sometime around 1125 BC. In the Muslim world, Sultana Reziyya became the first female Muslim ruler who physically led her armies in battles. She ruled for four years between 1236 and 1240. The Trung sisters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, sent the Chinese out of Vietnam after raising an army of men large enough to do so, around 45 BC; and China itself got a dose of the Amazonian spirit when Empress Wu became the first woman to rule China between 685 and 705 AD. Africa is not deprived of its own amazons. Queen Nzinga of the Mbundu people in the Ndongo kingdom in what is now known as Angola unsuccessfully resisted Portuguese colonialist in the late 16th and early 17th centuries (Microsoft Encarta, 2009). Closer home we had the travails of

However, one vital quality, among several others, differentiate these amazons from their fellow women and set them ahead of their male-dominated generations; their higher intellectual ability. For instance, Deborah was an influential judge in ancient Israel and most probably one of the first females to occupy such positions. Madam Tinubu was reputed to be an embodiment of historical facts, with the ability to reel-off dates and figures without recourse to any external source whether written or oral. This higher intellectual ability is today diffused among women through the use of education; an area that the woman still find relatively hard to catch up with her male counterpart.

Female education and the fight against inequalities

The importance of education to the growth of our society in general and to the emancipation of women in particular can not be over emphasized, for it has always been the tool of choice for demanding for equal rights. The trite expression that when you educate a man, you educate an individual, but when you educate a woman you educate a nation may have engendered the special attention being given to the women folk across the globe today (Simeh, 2008). The Beijing conference of 1995, highlighted areas for the emancipation and empowerment of women to include greater access to education, better health facility, poverty reduction and equitable welfare distribution among others.

 

The first call for women’s right in modern times was made by an educated English woman, Mary Wollstonecraft, a writer, in 1792. Influenced by the American and French revolutions, she called for the full participation of women in running the affairs of their communities through her book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women which literarily became the manual for the women’s right movement. Her efforts set the foundation for the Women’s Rights Declaration of 1938, which allows women equal rights as their male counterparts. Ever since, women have found their way into virtually all male dominated activities and they have not only thrived, but succeeded tremendously in many instances. Prior to this turn around, many professions were considered the sole preserve of men. Nevertheless, there still abound great amount of inequalities in several spheres, especially in the educational sector, both in the acquisition and dispensation phase.

 

The World Bank (2001) stated that“…in no region do women enjoy equal legal, social, and economic rights. Women have fewer resources than men, and more limited economic opportunities and political participation. Women and girls bear the most direct cost of these inequalities—but the harm ultimately extends to everyone. . .Gender inequalities persist because they are supported by social norms and legal institutions, by the choices and behaviours of households, and by regulations and incentives that affect the way economies function”.  The report went further “A strategy to reduce gender inequalities must address these factors. Foremost among the costs of gender inequality is its toll on the quality of human lives. Evidence suggests that societies with large and persistent gender inequalities pay the price of more poverty, illness, malnutrition, and other deprivations, even death. This makes a compelling case for public and private action to eliminate inequality. Public action is particularly important, since many social, legal, and economic institutions that perpetuate gender inequalities are extremely difficult for individuals to change”.

 

The question, therefore, is how do we eliminate this pervasive inequality? The answer to this is educating our girls as this is known to be the best investment in development (UNICEF, 2007)

 

Background to educational inequality in Nigeria

This challenge of educating the girl-child has over time been tackled differently, using various tactics, by regimes around the world. In Iraq, for example, culture and women are interwoven to such an extent that mathematics was considered the sole preserve of men, but the Saddam Husein regime could be granted a rare credit for its enforcement of women education ; to the extent that an erring father may be jailed for not ensuring that his daughter go to school.  His regime led to the emergence of many female engineers and medical practitioners especially during the Iraq/Iran war (Saraf, 2005).

 

Though the Nigerian constitution recognizes the equality of all citizens irrespective of sex, tribe and status, the reality on ground for the girl-child has always indicated the opposite. The situation, especially in the North and South-Eastern parts of the country, is such that the girl-child is marginalized right from birth. Early adolescence is usually lost to the cultural practice of early marriage. I refer to this phenomenon as cultural practice because the often acclaimed justification for this horrendous practice is unfounded in Islam and given the fact that the South-Western part of the country comprises a significant proportion of Muslims who do not imbibe in this practice. The preponderance of VVF (vesico vaginal fistula) and its sister ailment, VRF (vesico-rectal fistula) in other parts of the country but virtually non existent in the South-West is a pointer to this fact. So it is more of a cultural thing than religious (Olaoye, 2009).  It is estimated that there are 400,000 cases of VVF in Nigeria alone. According to the ministry of health, about 10,000 new cases occur annually with about five per 1,000 deliveries (Simeh, 2008). This ailment alone, out of the numerous ailments bedeviling our women, accounts for loses of a huge proportion of the available active working age population. One of the major solutions to these challenges is the education of the girl-child. As opined by Danladi Mamman, a teacher, quoted by Eze (2008) in her write-up, when he wrote in his article titled "Girl Child and Education", that it is a well known fact that many parents in Africa give preferential treatment to the boys, especially in matters concerning education and that up till now in some societies, girls are still made to live in their (the boys) shadows, denied education and other rights, and socially exploited. He concluded that “their rights to attain womanhood before going into child bearing are being aborted and abused".

To address this anomaly, respective governments have tried to put in place legislation specifically targeted at the problems of not only the girl child alone, but all marginalized children across the country. The Nigerian National Assembly in 2003 passed into law “the child rights act”, which among other things, seeks to facilitate the realization and protection of the rights of all children in the country regardless of their tribe, gender and parents' status. A major factor in this regard is the compulsory basic education for all children irrespective of gender (Olaoye, 2009).

But this laudable legislation is yet to achieve the much needed leverage effect as reported by Eze (2008), that there continued to be a national gender disparity in basic education enrolment, retention and completion against girls. She further pointed out that there are also regional variations in gender disparity in education with girls and women from northern Nigeria and rural communities being the most disadvantaged. Girls in these areas, according to Mamman (quoted in Eze, 2008) have been relegated to low social status as well as denied extra power and wider horizons that education brings. "She is denied an instrument which will empower her to participate in the socio-economic and political life and to make her contribute to the speedy and sustainable development of her community," (Mamman, 2008). The general assumption is that Nigerian men are more educated than Nigerian women (Durosaro, 1996).

 

Educational inequality, poverty and government intervention

Though cultural beliefs and practices play leading roles in relegating the girl child in relation to her male counterpart, what most effectively ensures that she continue to play this second fiddle role and also bar her from certain socio-economic activities, is non other than the chronic poverty that is constantly associated with lack of educational training. Lack of education, from all indications, leads to poverty and poverty on the other hand restricts access to education. The lack of a solid educational foundation creates a vicious circle that continues to bedevil generations of women in the country. The effect of poverty was so much that the former minister of Education, Mrs Chinwe Obaji was reported to have said “Many parents are so poor that they pull their children out of school for income generating activities, rather than paying for their children's school fees so as to sustain their families".

The Universal Basic Education (UBE) was enacted during the Obasanjo regime providing for a 9 –year free and compulsory basic education for all Nigerian children to fast-track education intervention at the primary and junior secondary levels but gradual access to formal school by girls still remains a hurdle to cross. According to the 2006 National School Census (NSC), as quoted by UNICEF (2006), about 5 million Nigerian children aged 6-11 do not access primary education and the distribution of this figure is most apparent in the Northern states where the ratio of non-attendance in school according to sex of the child could be as high as 3:1, thus representing 75% non attendance by girls. Statistics available reveal that about 7.3 million children locally, 60 per cent of which are girls, are not in school. Out of a global figure of 121 million out-of-school children, 65 millions are girls and most of these (over 80%) are to found in sub-saharan Africa (UNICEF, 2007). The problem of drop outs is more pronounced at grade six level, where more than 17 per cent children drop out of school yearly (Eze, 2008). Quoting a paper titled "Nigeria's Experience with Girls Education and Linkages with Action on Adult Female Literacy to Impact on Poverty Alleviation" presented by the Nigerian delegates to a conference in China recently, Eze (op cit) noted that “the drop-out issues has multifarious dimensions, the most important of which are; early marriages for girls in the north, boys and girls engagement in income generating activities to supplement house income in the South Eastern and North Eastern parts of the country, respectively, as well as in major state capitals. The poor quality of the education system and perceived weak employment prospects for school and university leavers are also key factors affecting drop-out and low transition from primary to junior secondary schools".  This is indicative of the fact that much still needs to be done in this regard.

However, there have been a lot of collaborations between the Federal Government with bodies like UNICEF, UNESCO to promote schemes such as Girl's Education Project (GEP) and Africa Girls Education Initiative (AGEI) among others. GEP focuses on national awareness on girl-child education and increasing political and financial commitment through advocacy and sensitization of policy makers at all levels, parents, school authorities, other leaders and girls themselves (Eze, 2008). One of such efforts and collaborations was the effort of the Educational Trust Fund (ETF) under Professor Mahmood Yakubu, which has helped in bringing to the fore, once again, the relevance of girl-child education especially in some selected states of Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Jigawa, Gombe and others. This intervention has added to the rare-chain, of efforts, in the promotion of girl-child education in Nigeria (Simeh, 2008). Beyond basic education, the nation would require the training of the girl-child at a higher level to maximize her contribution to the development of the country. As indicated by Bunyi (2003), governments across sub-Saharan Africa have not relented in this regard. Quoting Subbarao, Raney, Dundar and Harworth (1994), she pointed out that while men enrolment in tertiary institutions tripled by 1980 that of women grew seven-fold from a mere 0.14%. More support has also poured in for gender specific education since the 1980s, in the form of funding specially directed towards primary and secondary education. This was as a result of the findings that investment in primary education yielded higher returns to society while investment in tertiary education yielded higher returns to the individual (Psacharopoulos, 1993 as cited in Subbarao et al, 1994 and Bunyi, 2003). Over the years, this support has also been extended to the tertiary level. The most profound impact on the gender gap in the tertiary level in Nigeria was however as a result of a bold and determined policy by the government since the return of democracy in 1999; the almost blanket approval for the establishment of private Universities, Mono/Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.

Research design and methodology:

To understand the trend of the enrolment of female students in private Universities, an exploratory research was conducted using Fountain University, Osogbo as a case study. The total student population of the institution constituted the population of the study as well as the sample. A sampling frame was not specifically created as we are concerned with the total population of female students who represent our target variable. A sub-sample of the entire population of students with CGPA of 4.0 and above (N=24) was extracted to determine the prevalence of brilliance based on sex. This category of students is classified as Fountain Scholars. Fountain Scholarship entails maintaining a sessional CGPA of 4.0 and above and it entitles such a student to a 50% rebate on tuition fees amounting to about Ninety Thousand Naira (N90, 000) per session.

 

 Sample and instruments for data collection:

The objective of this study is to investigate the growing trend of increasing female enrolment in private Universities in Nigeria. As stated earlier, the total student population (N= 512) constitute the generic sample size and it also represents the addition of the total number of students enrolled at the beginning of each session since 2007/2008 to 2009/2010. Sampling instruments used include

i.                    Records of admissions

ii.                  Students results in previous examinations

iii.                College performance rating lists (i.e. Fountain Scholars list)

 

These are secondary data from the archives of the University and the two Colleges of Natural and Applied Sciences, and, Management and Social Sciences. Primary information was derived from the interview of eight of the female Fountain Scholars (n=15) constituting 53.33% of the female scholars population and 33.33% of the entire Fountain Scholars population.

 

Data analysis:

Prior to the return of the country to full fledged democratic rule, the demand for university education in the country was serviced by the less than 50 federal and state-owned universities available at the time. The government realized the need to expand availability of university education given the inability of the available institutions to serve the growing demands. Its response was the approval of the establishment of private universities to address the shortfall. Between 1999 and 2009, a total of 41 such universities were established with the proper certification of the Federal Government. Fountain University, Osogbo was established in 2007 and it opened its doors to students by the mid of the following year, attracting 185 students. By the end of 2008, the student population had grown to a total of 194 students of which 103 (53.09%) were females (see Table I). This trend was repeated in the subsequent session; 2008/2009, where a total of 144 students were admitted of which 80 (55.56%) were females. The current session, 2009/2010, however, saw a significant drop in the number of females enrolled.

 

Trends

A look at the spread of the enrolment by sex of the candidates at the point of entry of each set of students indicates that female students constitute an average of 51.55 across the three sets. The total number of female students at point of entry equals 263 students while the entire male student population equals 249. The records indicated that at the point of entry of the current 300 level students, females constituted 103 (53.09) candidates, but by the third year of this set, the number of female students dropped to 87 losing approximately 15.53% (16 students) of the female population. Several reasons were adduced for this drop in the number of female students. A particular reference to this fact was the comparative drop in sustained studentship of the two sexes. Only two male students dropped from the role call for the 2007/2008 set as against the 16 female students (see Table 4). Comparatively there are more female students in the Management and Social Sciences than male students as compared to the Natural and Applied Sciences. There is however exceptions in some programmes in the Natural Sciences such as Microbiology and Biochemistry where the female candidates are dominant.

 

High performing students (fountain scholars)

Of the entire current student population (N=490), 24 are considered Fountain Scholars. A Fountain Scholar is any student with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.0 and above. In the College of Management and Social Sciences (COMAS) there are 13 Fountain Scholars, constituting 54.17% of the high performing students. Of this sub-total, 11(84.62%) are female students, including all two Fountain Scholars in Accounting. Out of a total of 90 students enrolled for B.Sc. Economics for instance, 9 (10%) are Fountain Scholars. Only one of these Scholars is a male, all remaining 8 (88.89%) are females. When the number of female students (n=48) in the programme is cross-tabulated with female scholars, the propensity for achieving a female scholar for every female student is 0.17 while for the male student (n=42) it is 0.024 which indicates a higher proportion of brilliant female students in this particular programme.

 

It was also discovered that in programmes where females are numerically superior, there is a tendency for the most brilliant student to be a female (Probability: 0.63). In Microbiology for instance, all three Fountain Scholars are females out of 23 students of whom 16 are females. Overall, the spread of students with high Intelligent Quotient (IQ) was relatively higher among female students (6.15%) than that of the males (3.25%). {See Table 5}

 

Conclusion and recommendations

This study discovered that there was a noticeable case of drop outs among female students than the males. A case of the 300 level students showed that 103 female students were enrolled during the 2007/2008 session. By the end of their fifth semester examination the number has dropped to 87. Responding to questions regarding this, one of the interviewed students ascribed the drop to societal discrimination against the female sex. When prodded further, she stated that when boys fail in their academic pursuits, they are usually encouraged to try again; but that for the female students, they are seen as wasters of scarce resources and the consequence of this perception is lack of support and eventual abandonment. Corroborating this view, Ojobo (2008) cited other reasons for the decline in the number of female students to include pregnancies, early marriages, heavy demand on girls’ time to perform household tasks and economic reasons.

 

The growing trend of increase female enrolment in Private Universities is not entirely new (see Table 6 below). The National Universities Commission study in 2005 shows that enrolment of female student in privately owned Universities proportionally outweighs that of state and federal universities.

i.                    It is very important to sustain the trend in the privately owned Universities and to encourage the adoption of certain micro and macro – institutional strategies to create environments for a better enrolment of female candidates in the Federal and State Universities. 

 

 


 

 

Table 1:           Initial Enrolment for each session from 2007 – 2009/2010

Session of Enrolment  

2007/2008

2008/2009

2009/2010

Total

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

           (%)

Female

103

(53.09)

80

(55.56)

80

(46.00)

263(51.37)

Male

91

(46.91)

64

(44.44)

94

(54.00)

249(48.63)

Total

194

 

144

 

174

 

512(100.00)

 

 

Table 2: current student population - college of management and social sciences

                 Level    Programme

Male

Female

Total

Yr1

Yr2

Yr3

Yr1

Yr2

Yr3

100

200

300

Accounting

12

14

17

17(59%)

12(46.15%)

19(52.78%)

29

26

36

Business Admin

12

7

8

5(29.4%)

13(65%)

16(66.67%)

17

20

24

Economics

15

9

18

13(46.4%)

15(62.50%)

20(52.63%)

28

24

38

Political science

12

12

9

12 (50%)

8(40%)

8(47.05%)

24

20

17

Banking & Finance

5

-

-

3 (37.5%)

-

-

8

-

--

Sociology

1

-

-

5(83.33%)

-

-

6

-

-

 

57

42

52

55(49.11%)

48(53.33%)

63(54.78%)

112

90

115

Total = 166 females + 151 males = 317

% female = 52.37%

 

 

Table 3: Current student population - college of natural and applied sciences

 

Male

Female

Total

              Level

Programme

Yr1

Yr2

Yr3

Yr1

Yr2

Yr3

1

2

3

Computer Science

16

13

21

8(33.33%)

11(45.83%)

12(36.36%)

24

24

33

Biochemistry

8

1

8

8 (50%)

7(87.50%)

10(55.56%)

16

8

18

Microbiology

6

1

-

8 (57%)

8(88.89%)

-

14

9

-

Physics

6

-

5

1(14.3%)

-

0(0%)

7

-

5

Industrial & Env. Chem

1

4

1

0 (0%)

3(42.86%)

1(50%)

1

7

2

Engineering Physics

-

2

2

-

0 (0%)

1(33.33%)

-

2

3

 

37

21

37

25(40.32%)

29(58%)

24(39.34%)

62

50

61

Total = 78 female students + 95 males = 173

% female = 45.09%

 

Table 4:           Combined total of current sets of students

 

Male

Female

Total

 

Yr1

Yr2

Yr3

Yr1

Yr2

Yr3

Yr1

Yr2

Yr3

Combined Total

94

63

89

80(46%)

77(55%)

87(49.43%)

174

140

176

Total = 244 female students + 246 male students = 490 % of female = 49.8%

 

Table 5:           High performing students (fountain scholars)

S/N

ID

CGPA

SEX

Code

PROGRAMME

COLLEGE

1

006

4.55

F

2

Accounting

Management &  Social Sciences

2

121

4.32

F

2

Accounting

           

3

068

4.50

F

2

Bus. Admin.

           

4

105

4.08

M

1

Bus. Admin.

           

5

117

4.58

F

2

Economics

           

6

056

4.45

F

2

Economics

           

7

026

4.37

F

2

Economics

           

8

049

4.31

F

2

Economics

           

9

088

4.15

F

2

Economics

           

10

011

4.15

F

2

Economics

           

11

080

4.14

F

2

Economics

           

12

061

4.13

F

2

Economics

           

13

067

4.05

M

1

Economics

           

14

061

4.83

M

1

Computer Sc.

Natural & Applied Sciences

15

011

4.67

M

1

Computer Sc.

           

16

045

4.63

M

1

Biochem & Nutrition

           

17

065

4.52

M

1

Biochem & Nutrition

           

18

069

4.34

M

1

Industrial & Env. Chem

           

19

012

4.30

F

2

Industrial & Env. Chem

           

20

038

4.43

F

2

Microbiology

           

21

070

4.31

F

2

Microbiology

           

22

034

4.23

F

2

Microbiology

           

23

073

4.44

M

1

Physics & Elect

           

24

025

4.15

M

1

Physics & Elect

            

Source: Records Office, Fountain University, Osogbo

 

Table 6: Total Enrolment Male-Female by University Status (2003 – 2004 Academic Year)

University

Male

Female

Total

% Female

Federal

    342833

151437

493270

30.49

State

    132889

69882

202771

34.46

Private

      10401

9250

19651

47.07

Source: National University Commission Data Bank, Abuja  

 

 

 

 

 


References:

Bunyi, G.W. (2003), “Interventions That Increase Enrolment of Women in African Tertiary Institutions” Paper presented at the Regional Training Conference on Improving Tertiary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Things That Work!”, Accra, September.

 

Chamba Simeh,  “Jinx of Girl-Child Education in the North” ; culled from www.allafrica.com; June 20th 2008

 

dot e-comment newsletter, issue 9, January,2005, www.dot-com-alliance.org extracted July 2008

 

dot e-comment newsletter, issue 19 march, 2007, www.dot-com-alliance.org  extracted July 2008

 

Durosaro I. (1996), “Regressing the Imbalance in Female Educational Opportunities in Nigeria in the 21st Century” Nigerian Journal of Sociology of Education; Volume IV, Number 2; pp 58 – 64. August.

 

Eze Stella(2008),         “Nigeria: Challenges of Girl Child Education”, April, www.leadershipnigeria.com , extracted July 2008

 

International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) (Kenya Chapter). 1997.  Women and the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives.  New York: Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. Chapter 5.

 

Ojobo J.A. (2008), “Education a Catalyst for Women Empowerment in Nigeria” Ethiopian Journal of Education and Science; Vol. 4, No. 1, September

 

Olaoye, I. Kayode (2008),       “ICT and the Global Labour Market: From Brain Drain to Brain Gain”, International Conference on Marketing, Department of Management, University of Jos, April.

 

Olaoye, I.K. (2009), “ Globalization and the Labour Market: Turning Brain Drain to Brain Gain”, 6th Biennial Conference of the PPCSS, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State.

 

UNDP. 2004. Human Development Report. New York: UNDP

 

UNDP: Human Development Reports 2000 at http://esa.un.org/undp accessed: June, 2009

 

Rybinski, Krzysztof (2006),    “Global Labour Market and its Limitations”, paper presented at WORKERS 2020 – a vision of the labour market and labour environment in the forthcoming decades, Gdansk, 10th June.

 

 

Change Initiatives ‘Advocacy and Networking’ December 2003, http://www.genderawards.net, extracted July, 2008