chapter  14
16 Pages

Women and School

ByCatherine Coquery-Vidrovitch

This chapter suggests that women were not the favorites of colonial schools, both because of their inheritance from their own cultures and because of that imported by the colonizers. Men were encouraged to cultivate for colonial export. Missionaries would have liked them to subsistence-farm as well, considering it indecent for women to work outdoors. In South Africa, more African girls were educated early on than boys, at least in primary school. South African girls' education had at least one thing in common with education in the Belgian Congo: it was and remains backward. Girls' vocational training excludes or deemphasizes the sciences. Their only vocational options have remained the same for over a century—as domestics, teachers, and housekeepers. Traditional conservatism also holds sway in Guinea-Bissau, despite the key role played by women during the independence struggle; only 3 percent of girls were attending school in 1950 and still barely more than a third in 1980.