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 Chapter One

  • Introduction

Ifeoma (2009) defines education as the process of providing information to an inexperienced person to help him/her develop physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, spiritually, politically and economically. According to her, the fact that at graduation ceremonies, one hears the vice-chancellors pronounce the words while awarding degrees to their institutions graduates ― “you have been found worthy in character and learning” can be attributed to the definition of education as given above. She added that it means that the individual has acquired adequate and appropriate knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, known as cognitive, psychomotor and affective behaviours to be able to function optimally as a citizen. These behaviours are the focus of training individuals in institutions of learning.

According to Chidebulu (2010), education is a process of cognitive, effective and psycho motive development of an individual with a view to moulding the individual for a total contribution to the development of the community and the promotion of cultural heritage. This means that if one is educated, he tends to develop himself and become productive in the society, thereby promoting his cultural heritage. This means that education utilization of knowledge acquired for the benefit of the society.

To Gowon (2007), it is the process and system of providing information, knowledge, skills and training with an aim of changing a condition and situation. The change expected is usually positive in nature, and the education could be formal or informal. This definition is crucial in the case of Nigerian women whose condition needs to be changed for socio-economic transformation.

  • Background of the Study

The quantity and quality of education available to Nigerian girls or women will invariably determine the developmental pace of Nigerian families, and Nigeria nation at large. It should be noted that what Nigerian girls  or women are today and what they will be tomorrow depends on what plans Nigeria as a country and Africa at large has for the girl child. According to Oniye (2008), Nigeria is craving for patriotic citizens to develop their potentials politically, economically, socially and technologically. The actualization of these wonderful goals is dependent on the provision of functional education to the citizenry especially the girls who are future mothers and future teachers of children. Thus, unless the mother herself is enlightened, she cannot inculcate in the child the spirit and principle of true patriotism which is a basic requirement for national development. It therefore means that any meaningful development in Nigeria, depends on the education of the girl-child.

Education is considered as the critical software for development as it shapes the destiny of every society (Mwaka, et al, 2014). Women education is an educational initiative that has been embraced by many countries in the world, Nigeria included. According to Ogunniyi and Donsunmu (2014), education is first and foremost a social tool that is imperative for the continued survival and growth of the human society. Against this background, it is worthy of note to mention that education whether formal or informal, assumes a heavy social context since education generally concerns itself with the imparting of knowledge in people.

In line with the above, Okafor (2012) observe that education ideally trains manpower for the economy, it also helps to fully develop the potentials of individuals and equally help such individuals consummate employment opportunities. Therefore, since education is a critical variable in modern work situations, formal education enhances labour force participation of women.

Since it is believed that the right place for women is in the kitchen, some parents and others have considered it not necessary to provide equal educational opportunities to women with their male counterparts. In fact, as far as some parents are concerned, any amount of money they spend on their daughter‘s education is regarded as a waste. This is because it is believed that they would eventually end up in the kitchen or in somebody‘s house. On the other hand, any amount of money spent on a boy‘s education is regarded as useful investment because it is believed that a boy propagates the family name. This indeed has made many families, feel reluctant to send their girls to school.

Another issue which has contributed to inequality against women in education is early marriage. In Northern Nigeria, for example, some parents withdraw their daughters from school for some economic reasons or because of traditional customs and religion. Girls who went to school refused early marriage.

Ogunniyi and Donsunmu (2014) further argued that women’s involvement in formal education broadens their experience and also gives them access to new resources and skills. To a very large extent, it is to be understood that education is the main tool for imparting skills and attitudes relevant to the contribution of the individual concerned to natural development. Traditionally, Nigerian Society does not see much importance in women’s education, but rather in the domestic tasks. In view of this the woman’s role has come to be limited to sexual and commercial labour, satisfying the sexual needs of men, working in the fields, carrying loads, tending babies and preparing food (Hammond &Jabla, 1992). Turning an historical lens on women’s involvement in formal education helps demonstrate that discrimination against them sometimes overt and other times quite unawares has led to limited expectations for where, how and why women should participate in education. The belief that they would not be able to use advanced schooling leads to concerns that their movement into certain fields is inappropriate or unfair to men. Invariably, this goes against what Schaeffer (2005) argued that education depicts individuals involvement in formal training for the purpose of acquiring basic knowledge, skills and expertise necessary for living a meaningful and impactful life, generally aims at the development of human beliefs. This statement applies to both boys and girls.

Interestingly, the high rate of illiteracy among Nigerian women is the consequence of the interplay of several factors, including sex stereotyping and forced early marriages. In his argument, Adamu (1987) identified culture among the Hausa Fulani ethnic group of Northern Nigeria as one of the greatest problem confronting women’s education. As at the period when universal free primary education between 1975 and 1984 was in operation statistics provided by the Federal Ministry of Education (1985) indicate gender discrimination in access to basic education in the extreme north when compared to the Southern states. This trend could be attributed to early marriage of females, which remains a common phenomenon by the Hausa Fulani ethnic groups.

This research work therefore, seeks to investigate the dangers of gender discrimination in education and its effect on National development using TsitsiDangarembga’s Nervous Conditions to lay claim to issues affecting female backwardness in Nigeria and Africa in general. It therefore means that for Africa and Nigeria to attain meaningful development, the education of the girl child should be paramount to balance the bias misconception of “traditionalists” who perpetually see the place of women at a disadvantaged position.

  • Statement of the Problem

When one compares Nigeria to other countries like America where women are given key political appointments, one discovers that Nigeria is left far behind when it comes to development. Long after independence, Nigeria and African society at large is still struggling under the Yoke of underdevelopment. This could be largely attributed to the negligence of large manpower (women). In African society, women are relegated to the background when it comes to decision-making – it is believed that they have nothing meaningful or productive to contribute to the development of the society. A typical African family prefers to send the male child to school: ignoring the girl-child. This is because people believe that the girl-child will one day marry and take the education to her husband’s house while the boy-child will still remain in his father’s house and carry on the family name. It is this scenario that is bedeviling women in Africa, especially Nigeria, and hindering development. This project therefore, takes a journey into African literary portrayal of tradition and religion as instrumental to women’s backwardness in terms of education and denial. This is aimed at changing the psyche of the modern African man towards women.

  • Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to explore the Gender discrimination in education in Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions. Other specific objectives of this study are:

  1. To examine how gender discrimination in education is portrayed in Nervous Conditions and side by side the society at large.
  2. To evaluate ways in which gender discrimination has affected the characters in the study text and the society at large.
  • To determine the effects of gender discrimination in education on the development of the nation.
  1. To recommend solutions to the problem.
    • Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

  1. How is gender discrimination in education portrayed in Nervous Conditions?
  2. What are the ways in which gender discrimination has affected the characters in the study text and the society at large?
  • What is the effects of gender discrimination in education on the development of the nation?
    • Significance of the Study

This study is significant, especially now that the Nigerian economy is suffering from the yoke of underdevelopment. The study will be beneficial to, parents, government and the female students as well.

  1. The study shall show the importance of educating women in African society.
  2. Parents and guardians, especially, will benefit from this study in the sense that they will get to know the importance of educating the girl-child and not only focus on educating the male children. They (parents) will get to treat their children equally and remove the notion that the woman’s place is in the kitchen.
  • The government will come to terms with the fact that women education is very crucial to national development. In the light of this, the government will introduce programmes that will help encourage the education of women in Nigeria.
  1. Women will be exposed to the advantages of education. The girl-child, at all educational levels, will strive to be the best she can be – this is the only way she can contribute and give back to the society.
    • Scope and Delimitation of the Study

The research work is on gender discrimination in education in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions. The research will be restricted to the topic and the primary text of study. Therefore, the analysis, even though is centered on Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, other relevant works will be consulted in order to make references and the findings of this research might also be generic to other parts of the continent and the world at large.

  • Contextual Definition of Terms

Gender: Gender as used here refers to the differentiation between the male and female sexes.

Discrimination: Discrimination as used here is the marginalization of the feminine gender.

  • Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework for this work is feminism. Feminism is a literary theory that pays special attention to women’s rights and women’s position in culture and society. Feminist criticism evaluates and interprets literary works with regards to their portrayal of women and the influence of gender roles against women. Feminism attempts to give women the recognition they deserve and also points out gender bias relations to tradition and religion.

Feminists are united by the idea that women’s position in society is unequal to that of men, and that society is structured in such a way as to benefit men to the political, social, and economic detriment of women. However, feminists have used different theories such as radical feminism and womanism to explain these inequalities and have advocated different ways of redressing inequalities. There are therefore marked geographic and historical variations in the nature of feminism such as African feminism, European feminism, etc.


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