Guinea has finally achieved a steady path to educational opportunity for all as the growth enrollment rate (GER) of the country has increased rather consistently over the past decade. According to an April 2002 report from The World Bank, successes toward eliminating the gender gap “provides guidance on how resource-poor countries can plan and follow a steady course toward Universal Primary Education through policy change and hard work, even where conditions, on the surface, are not particularly favorable.”
Young girls in Guinea have experienced persistent gender disparity in education. This disparity is apparent across both urban and rural areas. Specific strategies to help alleviate the issue include USAID support, the backing of the Federation of African Women Educationists (FAWE) and the Ministry of Education, which were implemented as a means for eliminating disadvantages for young female students in Guinea.
The impressive transformation of education in Guinea is so impressive that The World Bank reports it “achieved one of the world’s highest rates of GER growth over the decade.” Consistent donor support alongside adamant remedial gender-based policy vision attributes to the wide successes for female students in Guinea. At the end of 2001, the GER for boys was 59 percent while that of girls was a considerably near 41 percent as opposed to the gap in 1990 existing between 69 percent for boys and 31 percent for girls.
Guinea is credited for creating one of Africa’s first gender equity committees in the vital year of 1991 thanks to the involvement of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry advocated to highlight factors affecting girls’ education, like sanitary facilities available and teacher accommodation for girls, and thus use government funded programs to solve these issues and consequently increase attendance and participation for female students in Guinea.
At the end of the 2002 report, The World Bank stated that “despite the gains in gender equity…the degree of expenditure bias is much higher in rural areas where expenditure on boys is 1.9 times that of girls in primary and nearly four times in secondary education. Guinea’s future success will depend in large part on its ability to further build teaching and learning quality.” Luckily, Guinea joined the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in 2002. The GPE has been a key catalyst for the continued change in educational opportunity for female students in Guinea. This resulted in a recent General Education Strategic Plan (GESP) which covers the years 2015-2017 and “is focused on equal access, quality, relevance, and the strengthening the management of the education sector.”
Three GPE grants have been given to Guinea to support new education sector plans, and the results have been significant. Forty million dollars was granted for the years 2008-2014, $24 million for 2010-2014, and an expected $37.8 million grant will go to Guinea for the years 2015-2018.
GPE grants have resulted in success in the past. The first contributed to “increasing the girls’ examination success rate for 7th-grade entrance in 100 targeted schools from 49 percent in 2011 to 71 percent in 2014.” According to the Global Partnership for Education, another grant increased “the gross enrollment rate for nine targeted prefectures by 10 percentage points, from 47 percent in 2011 to 57 percent in 2014.”
In order to continue to encourage female students in Guinea to be successful, the new GESP strategy will focus on improving access to a basic education for all under-served groups in Guinea. Though the country still faces challenges in equity, the $37.8 million GEP grant for 2015-2018 along with adherence to the GESP will “encourage girls’ enrollment and retention through creating associations of mothers and mentors, providing training on the benefits of schooling.”
– Hailey Visscher