It is estimated that 40% of the female population of Cameroon is illiterate, compared to 23% of males, as cultural attitudes, domestic duties, early marriage and pregnancy and sexual harassment all act as impediments to equal access to education for women.
International Children’s Awareness has partnered with Cameroon’s Centre for International Cooperation and Cameroon’s Development Foundation for Women’s Empowerment (DEFWEM) to provide funding and teacher training to a number of education programs for the women of Cameroon.
These important programs, focused on functional literacy and numeracy, provide the women with the education necessary to manage their own finances, communicate with family members outside of their communities, better their employment situation by obtaining skills-based jobs rather than working as a daily labourer, and to build a greater appreciation for education that is passed on to subsequent generations.
The goals of the women’s literacy and numeracy program are centred on facilities and qualified teachers:
The creation of permanent facilities for a literacy and numeracy center, whether in a shared or dedicated building, is the largest and most expensive of DEFWEM’s goals, and impossible without outside support. Currently, DEFWEM rents a small room in a building where it runs all of its programs. The size of the facility means that all students, regardless of level or progress, must be taught in the same classes. Also, the center goes well beyond reasonable capacity, with four women usually sharing each desk work space. DEFWEM would like to construct its own building, or renovate another facility with a long-term agreement for access and use, to better serve the population of the region.
We also must ensure that adequate funding exists to hire qualified teachers for the program, and to provide an ongoing training program that is focused on the education of adults. By raising the expertise and confidence of the instructors, with specific expertise on teaching adult learners, it can be expected that the delivery of content will also improve.