Wau forum stresses women's educational needs

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13 April 2011 – To create awareness among women's groups of the UN's millennium development goal relating to them, UNMIS Gender and Human Rights units held a one-day forum today in Wau.

The event drew more than 35 women from groups around Western Bahr El-Ghazal State, as well as officials from the state Ministry of Education and Social Development.

Under the theme “Equal access to education, training, science and technology”, the gathering focused on the need to promote both male and female students in meeting the millennium goal in terms of technological awareness and development, with emphasis on increased opportunities for girls.

[Millennium development goal 3 strives to promote gender equality and empower women, with the target of eliminating eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education in all levels of education no later than 2015.] At its conclusion, the forum recommended that parents become involved in education through home study and follow-up with children, more training be provided for teachers to improve their skills and boarding schools be established.

Participants also recommended creating science clubs in schools with scientific equipment like computers and laboratories, improving teachers' salaries and providing them with guidance or norms to protect students and prevent abuse, and providing inspectors to monitor teaching.

“Issues related to gender should not be left to women alone,” said Coleta Aku, administrator in the Ministry of Local Government, stressing that such forums should include male constitutional post holders and government officials to have more effect among state citizens.

She called for the need to treat women with equal dignity in terms of sharing domestic work like cooking or cleaning in the house to help children learn by example, and avoid treating children differently when assigning these chores.

“It is good in most cases to see that both parents prepare ... tea and children for school,” said Teresa Bazilio, deputy chairperson for the Women's Training and Promotions organization in Wau, stressing that this attitude would help avoid customary differences.

She said her organization had held many gender equality workshops in the state and would continue to do so until people learned how to share duties and treat one another with respect.

Martha Richard, director of gender in the state Ministry of Education said the government was trying to establish girls' boarding schools in the near future, urging state citizens to encourage teachers to be role models for students through their attitudes and dressing.

She stressed the need for parents to support children in improving their education and called on teachers to follow the guide provided by the Ministry of Education on behavior towards students, especially relations with female students and female teachers with male students.