BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Gender equity is mostly acknowledged in underdeveloped nations across the world. This issue has the potential to undermine the long-term growth of any economy; hence, in order to avoid this, girls must have the same education as boys. Every Nigerian kid has the right to an equal educational opportunity, according to the national policy on education (2004). Women make significant contributions to national progress, but a deeper look at Nigeria’s education system reveals that female education is marginalized. This issue has hampered not just girls’ access to school, but also their performance in terms of national growth. Education has been a key resource utilized by both men and women to break down social oppression boundaries, obtain power, and flourish since its inception. Gender equality issues in higher education have been widely discussed throughout the 1990s, and have even been addressed in Regional Consultations in Havana in November 1996, Palermo in September 1997, and Beirut in March 1998. As a result, the principles of Universal Human Rights Article 26 paragraph 1 come into play, which supports that education, particularly higher education, is for everyone. As a result, the need to eliminate gender gaps in higher education is critical, because gender disparity hinders female career growth, depletes human resources, and increases illiteracy in Nigeria. Education for all in Nigeria began in 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated the policy of everyone having access to education. This was followed by the World Declaration on ‘Education for All’ in January 1990, which prompted the Nigerian government to promote female education in collaboration with some international organizations. This has yet to be realized since Nigeria is still in a state of political, social, and economic insecurity. According to research, female illiteracy in Nigeria accounts for around 45 percent of the population, with adult literacy accounting for 35 percent (UNESCO, 2000). In Nigeria, the proportion of girls in secondary, elementary, and university institutions is lower than that of boys. According to the UNESCO Report (1995), females made up 86 million of the 150 million children aged 6-11 who were not in school. Cultural and religious views, economic considerations, and a lack of access are among the causes cited as impeding female children’s education in Nigeria. According to current data, over 70% of women in Nigeria are illiterate, with 25.4 percent residing in urban areas and 50.2 percent living in rural regions. The issue of gender inequality has lingered for long in the history of Nigeria. It is noticeable almost in every facet of the Nigerian economy, in the sense that females are discriminated in the religious, political, and social phases of the Nigerian economy. Female education in Nigeria has several challenges, including illiteracy, poverty, religious belief, unplanned pregnancy, early marriage, and a preference for male children over female children. Similarly, schools in Nigeria are not gender friendly, and hence cannot satisfy the gender requirements and aspirations of pupils (particularly females). In keeping with the foregoing premise, the purpose of this study is to investigate gender equity issues in Nigerian institutions of higher learning.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Gender disparity is evident in Nigerian higher institutions, as evidenced by incidences of gender prejudice and discrimination such as sexual harassment (Aina, 2003). It is worth noting, however, that some African colleges do not take the issue of gender parity seriously (Gunawardana et al, 2005). Gender disparity is visible at Nigerian universities in the following areas: student enrollment, staff employment, and administrative rules. In terms of student enrollment, it is clear that most female students are admitted to faculties such as education, corporate and rural development, and humanities, as opposed to males who are admitted to engineering and other science-related faculties (Situation Analysis Report, OAU Ife, 2002). This discrimination has crept into the educational system of Nigeria, especially the higher education. In the higher education, we have cases of gender inequality with cultists harassing the females; females’ assigned to specific departments/facilities, number of females admitted into the university, etc. Disparity in higher education still exists in staff recruitment, appointment and promotion. Other factors militating gender equality include cultural barriers, religious barriers and economic factors. These are some of the problems associated with gender equity in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is problems of gender equity in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria. Other specific objectives include:
- To investigate the extent at which gender inequality prevails in higher institution.
- The identify the problems of gender inequality in Nigeria society .
- To identify solutions to gender inequality in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
- To examine the efforts made by the Nigerian government in fighting gender inequality in higher institutions.
The following research questions guide this study:
- To what extent does gender inequality prevails in higher institution?
- What are the problems of gender inequality in Nigeria society?
- What are the solutions to gender inequality in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria?
- What efforts has the Nigerian government made in fighting gender inequality in higher institutions?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is meant to inform the general public, the government and administrators of higher learning in Nigeria on the need to promote gender equity in the country. The general public needs to know the relevance of female education to an individual, his family and to the country at large. Government and international agencies need to improve and adopt better programmes and policies that will enhance gender equity in Nigeria. Based on the purpose of the study, universities administrators need to abhor gender inequality; among the students of staff of various institutions across the country. This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is restricted to problems of gender equity in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria. Hence selected Universities in Nigeria shall be enrolled as participants for this study.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that it is a new discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size covering only higher institution student in Imo State Polytechnic. Thus findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for other higher institution in other States within Nigeria. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work will impede maximum devotion to the research. Howbeit, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
PROBLEM: A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
GENDER EQUITY: Is the process of allocating resources, programs and decision-making fairly to both males and females. This requires ensuring that everyone has access to a full range of opportunities to achieve the social, psychological and physical benefits that come from participating and leading in sport and physical activity. It does not necessarily mean making the same programs and facilities available to both males and females. Gender equity requires that girls and women be provided with a full range of activity and program choices that meet their needs, interests and experiences. Therefore, some activities may be the same as those offered to boys and men, some may be altered, and some may be altogether different. Human rights legislation, including the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has affirmed the principles of equity while making provisions for affirmative action programs to eliminate disadvantages.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Higher education, post-secondary education, or third level education is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after secondary education. Often delivered at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology, higher education is also available through certain college-level institutions, including vocational schools, trade schools, and other career colleges that award academic degrees or professional certifications. Tertiary education at non-degree level is sometimes referred to as further education or continuing education as distinct from higher education.
UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONAL (UNESCO): Is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.
Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004). National Policy on Education. Lagos: NERDC Press.
UNESCO (1995): Higher Education in the 21st Century, Vision and Action. Report of the World Conference on Education. UNESCO, Paris 5th-9th October 1995.Website.
UNESCO (2000): Recent Developments and Future Prospects of Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 21st Century: A meeting of Higher Education Partners, 23 June, Paris: UNESCO.
Gunawardana, Chandra, Joy Kwesiga, Amandina Lihamba, Louise Morley, Abiola Odejide, Lesley Shackleton, Annik Sorhaindo (2005), Gender Equity in Commonwealth Higher Education: Emerging Themes in Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda.
SAPA (2002), Social and Policy Analysis Study, FGN/UNICEF: Lagos, Nigeria
Aina S. (2003): Anatomy of Communications, Julian Publishers, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.