BY MENGESHA AMARE
It is well recognized that education and development are highly correlated as thinking of the latter without the former is quite unthinkable especially in this modern world. Besides, education has played, in a range of forms, an indispensable role in fostering the growth and prosperity of a given nation.
Taking some cardinal issues of women among the society into account, this writer talked to Amanuel Taye, sociology and social anthropology graduate from Addis Ababa University in a bid to seek some sorts of professional standpoints.
Without a shadow of doubt, he added education contributes to a better economic growth, increases productivity of individual worker; helps minimize inequalities in income distribution and alleviation of poverty. It also improves the health status of the society and backs the effort geared towards reducing population rise thereby building a more cultured and politically aware society.
All the aforesaid benefits and changes can be brought about if women contribution is taken into account and they are provided with the appropriate place and prestige in the social strata, Amanuel underscored.
If truth be told, the comprehensive growth the country has long been aspirating could hardly be attained making over half percent of the population devoid of due attention and care. There are of course steps taken to help women and girls come to the forefront, but they have not so far received the attention they deserve, he added.
He said, “Women in Ethiopia constitute close to fifty percent, even beyond, of the population and contribute a significant share of the subsistence production especially in rural Ethiopia. However, they are subject to gender discrimination in every aspect of their life, unless exaggerated, worse than any other women in any part of the world. Frankly speaking, women in this country are not given the right respect and place in economic, social, political, cultural and even legal aspects though great effort is exerted to help them have what they demand.”
According to him, women do have less access to schooling and employment, too. Worse even, they are subject to traditional practices such as FGM, early marriage, marginalization and other related factors, which have left them to lifelong suffering.
Amanuel further elucidated that it is customary to observer, in rural parts of the country in particular, a number of women and girls travel long distance to fetch water and collect fuel wood; they cook in poorly ventilated houses which expose them to eye disease and blindness.
Besides, he said they are suffering from lack of prompt health service as they need more healthcare services at the time of pregnancy, delivery and child upbringing. Ethiopian women are also subject to gender violence, domestic violence, sexual and emotional harassment etc.
As to him, unless all these hurdles and change bottlenecks are addressed as timely as possible, it is hard to think of development and growth. All these hurdles make half segment of the population not to perform to their full potential in social, economic and political spheres. Hence, women and girls have to receive due emphasis in primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education and in the world of work.
“True, education increases household income and wellbeing by increasing productivity or widening income earning opportunities.
The higher the level of education the wider the percentage gap between male and female employees in the federal government offices. This gap is fueled by on the job training which further places women in a disadvantageous position,” Amanuel said.
Education increases productive capacity and thereby output at the household and national level, result in fair distribution of income: increase opportunity for wage employment or shift from marginalized to high productive activities.
Women education leads to decrease fertility, increased child health, decreased child mortality, improved nutrition and child education. By changing women’s attitude, education makes them be active in the social, economic and political sphere of life. It allows women to question about traditional practices, and enables them to look at various alternatives and control the environment they live in.
Education, as a means to various ends, needs to be made more accessible to women as they are not in equal footing as compared to their counterparts—males. Working in collaboration as well as exerting the combined effort of all concerned is of paramount importance in combating constraints if education has to contribute to individual well-being and national output as well as materialize the positive impact of women and girls education.
Amanuel further said: “As education is the most important tool for the betterment of humanity as well as to develop modernization in civilization, its quality needs to be maintained. In every government education is considered to be the most essential pillar that holds all states together and leads them towards ultimate success and prosperity.”
He further stated that why the government has to focus on quality apart from expanding education accessibility. As to him, quality education enables students to develop all of their attributes and skills to achieve their potentiality as human beings and members of society. Education quality therefore implies looking into what desirable changes the educational institution demand to make in each student.
“No one denies that education is at the heart of both personal and community development. Its objective is to enable each of us, without exception, to develop all our talents in full swing and to realize our creative potentiality, including responsibility for our own lives and achievement of our personal aims,” he opined.
As to him, not only quality education enlightens but it also empowers citizens and enables them to contribute to the maximum extent possible to the social and economic development of the community. Quality education is one that focuses on the whole-the social, emotional, mental, physical and cognitive development of each student regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or geographic location.
“Ensuring access to quality teachers, providing use of quality learning tools and professional development as well as establishment of safe and supportive quality learning environments are the three fundamental mainstays that highly support quality education and reinvigorate women empowerment.”
Yes, said Amanuel, education is an indispensible weapon that helps people learn basic norms, rules, regulations, cultures, and values of society. Moreover, high quality education enables people to lead a successful life, augments their astuteness, skills, understanding, and brings positive changes in life.
Education is also a prerequisite of the prosperity and modernization of any country as modern education is based on the humanism, freedom, equality, democracy, and human rights.
“The major objective of all education systems is to play a role in promoting values and attitudes of responsible citizenship and in nurturing creative and emotional development. When such a promising trend is widely applied on women it helps the nation hit double targets: empowering women themselves to use their full potential for the change of their country and enables them to bring about meaningful transformation upon the society and the country at large,” he underlined.
According to Amanuel, there is no substitute for quality education for the overall economic, social and moral prosperity of a country. Only quality education can build students into skilled manpower in line with the international labor market. So there is no compromise in providing quality education. The government has to work on this policy and predominantly centering women empowerment in education. True, the government has to walk the talk as educating women in particular and empowering them in general is call of the day and a rewarding move to make a difference.
Holding talks with UNICEF, Athlete Haile Gebreselassie, and Olympic Gold Medalist on his part said, “As educating a woman means educating the family, the society and the nation at a larger scale, rural as well as urban communities should send girls and women to school.”
He further said that education plays a vital role in improving human life, and the motto, ‘Education for All’ should be the main agenda and promoted among the society. Besides, education is a weapon to get families, communities, and even nation prospered in the future.”
As learnt from Athlete Haile, educated women have had ample opportunity to obtain better jobs thereby making more money at the same time benefiting their community and country as much as possible in terms of economic return.
As to him, education is a turning point of women empowerment because it enables them to respond to varieties of challenges, to confront with traditional style thereby changing their life and that of their children. It is a cornerstone for the empowerment of women, indeed.
“Half of the population of our society is women. With regard to girls, we all should do all our best to help women and girls reach their full potential,” he underlined.
Major Haile said, “The future of the country depends on a quality education being provided in every school and it plays a major role in the student development. The quantity and quality of school inputs, the effectiveness of the curriculum and teaching methods and the extent of the school and home environment are instrumental in helping the nation produce productive and responsible citizenry working for intensifying national development and buttressing common good. Here, the role women can play is quite untold.”
The Ethiopian March 12/2022