The development of female education in Northern Rhodesia, 1925-63 : the case of Central Province

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Nyeko, janet
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The period 1883-1925 marked the beginning of formal western education in Northern Rhodesia. Most of the education provided was for young men. Lack of emphasis on women at this stage had an adverse effect on the later development of their education. After 1925 the government of Northern Rhodesia worked closely with missionaries to provide education for Africans. Regarding female education, government policy was basically that it would financially assist missionaries, but that women's education was to be left in mission hands. Government policies were influenced by such factors as economy, need for artisans and clerks, British government pressure, social and civic status of women in Britain and reaction of African parents. Four phases of government educational programmes and changes in policies have been identified. These are from 1925-38, 1938-^5, 19^5-57 and 1957-63. Missionaries' policies on female education were influenced by their priority of using education as a tool for evangelisation of Africans. The training of mothers and housewives was part of the evangelisation process. They were also influenced by their view of women generally and of African women in particular African parents at first viewed western education with suspicion« Girls' education seemed particularly unattractive at first. That was because traditional African education in NorthernI - Rhodesia was more strict on girls than on boys. Africans also found it difficult to justify girls education because of lack of employment for them. When more girls were employed after the I9^0s, parents were more keen to allow their daughters to go and stay in schools,In central Province, provision of lower primary education for girls was generally equal to that of boys after 19^5« However, government technical schools were for men and boys only. As late as 19&0, there was only one secondary school for girls in the province. That was despite the strategic position of the province, government and railway headquarters and mines, which attracted a lot of labour. One of the factors that inhibited the establishment of a government girls' secondary school in the province, and especially in the capital, was a disagreement between the Catholic and Protestant missions about a non-denominational school for girls. However, the Catholic societies were very important in providing girls' schools in the Province especially after 1957« In conclusion, educational facilities made available to women in Northern Rhodesia were both inadequate and in many cases did not prepare them for employment. The scarcity of women employed in both private and public sectors today is a direct result of the above. Socially, educated women were of a higher social status than their uneducated counterparts. They participated in many social activities outside their homes. Most of them were employed as teachers and nurses. After independence some educated women were appointed to responsible jobs in the party and its government. Finally, this study disputes the theory that colonial education lowered the status of women vis-a-vis men« It is argued that- from pre-colonial time to 1963» the status of women relative to men remained 1 unaltered. This was due to the maintenance of traditional division of labour and roles whether one was educated or not. The colonial system reinforced women's position but did not alter it.
Education -- Zambia -- Central Province , Education and state -- Zambia