Factors affecting female participation in education in seven developing countries


The original study set out to examine the social, economic, religious and other factors influencing the degree of female participation in formal education institutions in six carefully selected developing countries. The intention behind the study was that it should provide information that governments and aid donors would be able to take account of in designing future educational projects, with a view to improving the levels of female participation in those countries where it lags behind that of males. While the study would not ignore participation in non-formal education, the main thrust would be towards broad general education at all levels, with the focus of attention at school level and an emphasis on the primary sector.

The countries selected were: Bangladesh, Cameroon, India, Jamaica, Sierra Leone and Vanuatu, making two each from Africa, Asia and the Tropical Island Zones. In each location, in addition to interviewing key personnel and consulting local documentation, the researchers carried out two empirical surveys: a major exercise with primary school pupils to ascertain some of their perceptions on gender and education, and a minor exercise with students, mainly those training to be primary teachers for the same purpose. The outcomes contributed to the case study sections presented in this paper.

This second edition is not merely an updated version of the first, but was seen an opportunity to bring the original study (published in 1993) to a wider audience. The study was replicated in a seventh location: the Seychelles, this means that the Indian Ocean is represented alongside the Caribbean and the South Pacific and some additional perspectives are observed. However, since half a decade had elapsed between the original study and the undertaking of the Seychelles fieldwork, it would not be proper to interpret this 1996 information within the crosscutting thematic discussion that precedes the case studies. Therefore the Seychelles section is included as an appendix.


Educational Paper No. 9 (second edition), DFID, London, UK, ISBN 1861920 65 2, 96 pp.

Factors affecting female participation in education in seven developing countries

Published 1 January 1997