Training teachers and gender equality in Nigeria: Reflections on measurement and policy


How to measure and track gender inequalities in education, identify interventions for equality, and evaluate and monitor these is central to much contemporary debate in policy and academic circles. It is widely acknowledged that we are into a second generation of discussions of measurement in which the limits and potential of the existing measures – gender ratios of enrolment, attendance, progression, and examination of attainment in different phases of schooling – are taken as an imperfect starting point. The challenges noted by these commentators include the fore-shortened horizons of policy discussions, which need to work with the data that is routinely collected, the complexity of identifying what gender equality or inequality in education looks like, so that it can be measured, the importance of understanding how gender intersects with other forms of social division, and how the complexities of history , context and how lives are lived complicate the simplicities of metrics. A parallel set of issues concerns the history of the collection and analysis of statistical data in education and the epistemological negotiations this entails and where gender comes to be positioned in this process. This paper addresses some of these challenges through a multi-layered analysis. In the first part we reviews some of the discussions concerning the measurement of aspects of equality, and through this we distil some pointers with regard to how to reflect on data regarding measurement, gender and education. In the second part we reports on data collected from survey research with Nigerian students in their final year of study on courses in teacher education, reflecting on how they understand gender and education issues, as presented through the curriculum, and how their views of what they are being taught and may themselves teach, articulates with their current ideas. The conclusion considers the implications of this data regarding how gender is understood for the debate about measurement.