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Afr Women Health. 1993 Apr-Jun;1:20-3.

They yearn for freedom to read and write.



In spite of the expansion of educational systems and increasing enrollments of both boys and girls in primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions in many sub-Saharan African countries, females in this region still have limited education and training opportunities. Home economics is very popular among the women, although most courses are not entirely relevant to the sub-Saharan African conditions. Westernized courses like baking, weaving, knitting, and sewing are very popular. On the other hand, little attention is paid to African traditional courses like agriculture and trading. A number of UN agencies have tried to include traditional African courses. Literate women are more knowledgeable about nutrition, health, and contraceptive practices, and they are more likely to send their daughters to school. Illiterate women in sub-Saharan African countries, however, have not significantly improved their lives through literacy training. A wide variety of health and nutrition programs are designed for only women. Maternal and child care, disease prevention, hygiene, rehydration and proper use of sanitary services are among the most popular. Programs are usually offered by Ministries of Health but are often funded by UNICEF and WHO. Nutrition programs typically involve teaching the basics of nutrition and improvement of the family diet with the major aim of reducing infant and child morbidity and mortality rates. Income generating programs provide women with skills needed to help them earn income and gain status in the household. Agricultural training, in many cases, excludes women in spite of the fact that the majority of women in Sub-Saharan Africa are involved in agriculture and provide 60-80% of the agricultural labor and produce. Agriculture is the key to development in most countries of this region. Factors that influence sub-Saharan women's participation in nonformal education programs include program relevance, availability, distance to the training center, economic resources, and information. UNESCO and UN guidelines require program assessment, implementation, and evaluation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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