Promoting girls education in Africa - The design and implementation of policy interventions


This report presents the findings of research that has examined the intellectual, political and organisational processes that have shaped government and donor policies and projects concerned with promoting the education of women and girls in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The study seeks in particular to assess the extent to which gender interventions in education have been donor driven. The growing concern about large and persistent gender inequalities in education has led to the development of a number of initiatives on the part of multilateral and trilateral aid agencies aimed at encouraging the participation of women and girls in education. Despite this concern, efforts to reduce gender inequalities on the part of both governments and donor agencies have been uneven and policy interventions have evolved in a piecemeal fashion.

In order to explore the reasons for the limited progress that has been made in improving girls' education in most developing countries, this study focuses on policy formulation and implementation with respect to girls' education in three low income African countries.

Each country case study; (i) Gives an overview of the access, persistence and attainment of girls and women at various levels of the education system; (ii) Assesses how academic and other research findings concerned with gender and education have contributed to policy change; (iii) Reviews government education and gender policies in order to assess the bureaucratic, political and social constraints preventing the attainment of gender equality in education; and (iv) Examines donor support to the education sector and girls' and womens' education and looks, in particular, at the way in which donor priorities have shaped gender interventions. Donor coordination is examined from the point of view of 'lessons learned' from prior experience in the area of gender and education. Issues concerning the 'ownership' of policies and programmes are explored in the light of relationships between host government and agencies. The role of NGOs in gender advocacy and providing alternative models is also considered.


Educational Paper No. 25, DFID, London, UK, ISBN 1 86192 046 6, 141 pp.

Promoting girls education in Africa - The design and implementation of policy interventions

Published 1 January 1998