Workshop description: Addressing gender inequalities in education - Challenges and opportunities for ODL

Helena Fehr, Commonwealth of Learning

Education is central to the development of individuals’ capacity to be productive members of society; it is the key to individual freedom and to cultural, social and economic development. Implicit in this definition is that in the delivery of education, any practice or trend that obstructs either girls or boys, or both, from realising their optimum potentials and preparing them to play constructive roles in the development of their countries should be eradicated. However, girls and women continue to be systematically disadvantaged, as evidenced by inequities in school participation rates and the systemic barriers to their use of ICTs. Further, in some Commonwealth countries, it is becoming apparent that boys are underachieving in both performance and participation in increasing numbers. Both phenomena reflect a considerable waste of human potential, prompting the question “what is to be done?”

Presenters from Nigeria, India, and Jamaica will outline the challenges faced by men and women and identify examples of best practices, including the application of open, distance and technology-mediated learning (ODL) – what are the challenges for ODL? What can ODL offer? Participants will explore the broader social implications of these trends, identify strategies and make recommendations on possible new initiatives and interventions.

Dr. Jyotsna Jha, Advisor, Gender & Education and HIV/AIDS Social Transformation Programmes Division, Commonwealth Secretariat, UK
Dr. Sushmita Mitra, Director (Student Support Services), National Institute of Open Schooling, India
Dr. Nafisatu Muhammad, Executive Secretary, National Centre for Nomadic Education, Nigeria
Ms. Rukmini Vemraju, Programme Officer, Commonwealth Education Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA), India
Mr. Mark Figueroa, Dean - Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of the West Indies, Jamaica

Chair: Ms. Helen Lentell, Education Specialist, Training & Materials Development, COL

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