Windhoek — The levels education and training in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had improved, according to the SADC Gender Protocol 2012 Barometer.
The Southern Africa Gender and Development Index (SGDI) indicates that the regional average score for education is 94 percent compared to the average Citizen Score Card (CSC) score of 68 percent.
In 2011, the SGDI was 93 percent and the CSC was 55 percent.
According to the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance sponsored report, coordinated by Gender Links, education is generally a success story for gender equality in the region.
Mauritius achieved the highest CSC score at 85 percent, while the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) achieved the lowest at 45 percent.
Generally, women in Southern Africa have lower literacy levels than men, with the exception of Lesotho and Seychelles.
Compared to last year, Lesotho had even surpassed Seychelles with literacy levels of 95 percent women (up from 83 percent last year) and 83 percent men (up from 80 percent last year).
Seychelles has a literacy of 92 percent for women and 91 percent for men.
Lesotho is the only country in the region having more girls than boys in primary schools. However Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Swaziland have higher proportions of women than men at tertiary level.
In primary education in Malawi and secondary education in Mozambique, where girls and boys are virtually at par, girls are outperforming boys at schools.
While gender equality objectives increasingly feature in budget statements, the report stated that these references are sporadic and selective.
"There is little correlation between these and the assessment of gaps that need to be addressed, for example the gap at tertiary levels," it stated.
The report further explained the difference between the empirical score and citizen perception score underlines many qualitative challenges, such as gender biases in curricula and gender-based violence in schools.
The SGDI measures only enrolment at primary, secondary and tertiary education levels and does not cover aspects such as gender biases in curriculum, the engendered dimension of subject and career choices, school dropout rates as well as gender violence in schools.
This factor explains the 31 percent gap between the SGDI and CSC regional scores. The gap between SGDI and CSC is even more stark at country level.
For example, Swaziland is rated between the second highest countries according to the SGDI at 99 percent, yet among the three lowest-ranked CSC at 55 percent.
At 75 percent, Zimbabwe achieved the highest citizen score but this is much lower than its SGDI of 97 percent.
With gender parity at all levels (and more girls than boys at primary level in Lesotho) Botswana and Lesotho achieved 100 percent SGDI scores.
Five countries - Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles and Swaziland - missed the full score by only one percent at 99 percent.
It is reported that even the lowest ranked countries are not too far away from top scores with only five countries achieving less than 90 percent and the lowest ranked being the DRC at 83 percent. Citizen scorecards ranged from 75 percent in Zimbabwe to 45 percent in the DRC. The DRC, a post-conflict country riddled with many challenges related to education access and gender violence, scores lowest both in terms of the SGDI and CSC. The report concludes that overall, the education sector is performing well because the other countries in the region score above 50 percent in the CSC ranking except for the DRC.