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Aspects of gender and mathematics : a case study of some secondary schools in Kenya

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:43 authored by Sylvia. Nock
"Mathematics is difficult and especially so for girls". The researcher had heard this but believed that it was success in examinations that proved more difficult for students rather than mathematics itself and that often girls underestimated their ability to achieve in this curriculum area.;This is the case study focussing on four secondary schools, with varying percentages for girls, in rural Kenya. Kenya, in sub-Saharan Africa, is a country where there is no universal primary education (UPE) and education is not compulsory. Whilst looking at attitudes of all students, the emphasis has tended to be on the girls.;The researcher believes that the evidence from these schools in sufficient to suggest that Kenyan schools should not necessarily accept the female prejudices against mathematics that research has found in first world countries. These findings both confirmed and contradicted areas of previous research on gender and mathematics.;Whilst the majority of mathematics' teachers were male, the results endorse the literature which shows that this does not disadvantage the female students. However, expecting to find the girls marginalised in a country where a pedagogy of difference exists, in a subject considered a male domain, the researcher found that this was not the case: these findings tended to corroborate those of Driver (1980), Parry (1997) and Mittelberg and Lev-Ari (1999) in that female students, when motivated, are able to cope with mathematics.;Many of the girls were enthusiastic about mathematics when they entered the secondary school and they were aware of the importance of mathematics for their future careers. The researcher was not able to ascertain that girls would perform better in a single-sex environment.;The researcher believes that it is the expectation of a high level of mathematics for all students, together with the intensive syllabus that causes most Kenyan students to perform very badly in the mathematics' examination at the end of secondary schooling.


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University of Leicester

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  • Doctoral

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