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Chapter One of Distance Education As A Strategy For Empowering Women (Educationally) For Safe Motherhood In Nsukka Local Government Area
Background of the Study
Distance Education (DE) according to Holmberg (1989:12), covers the various forms of the study at all levels which are not under the immediate supervision of the tutors (with the learners in lecture rooms or on the same premises) but which nevertheless, benefit from planning, guidance and teaching of supporting organization.
Moore (1985:21), on the other hand defines DE as a family of instructional methods in which the teaching behaviours are executed apart from the learning behaviours. He adds that DE includes those educational activities that in a contiguous situation would be performed in the learner’s presence, so that communication between the facilitators and the learners must be facilitated by print, electronic, mechanical and other devices.
Every educational endeavour, according to Lehner (1989:14), such as DE, has the purpose of widening of consciousness and liberation from restriction in the cognitive and emotional fields. This opening of the mind has consequences from the understanding conditions in the external objective world for acquisition of knowledge and for subjective development. New social circumstances, economic efficiency and democracy cannot develop without people. DE practice attracts ensuring that the socially, economically and geographically isolated cope with the increased changes in volume of information UNESCO (1997).
DE is an instrument for accelerating the pace of all aspect of human transformation to shake off inertia in the people, achieve mobilization and direct the productive forces in improving the living conditions of the people. Such goals of this transformation include the following:-
- to help individuals to discover universal human values and base their ideas, lives on them.
- to be able to think critically and independently
- to make decision responsibly and to adapt to the changes of socio-economic environment.
- to develop the individual consciousness and to prepare the citizens for a responsible living (Ogili, 1998).
DE according to Garrison (1989:27) involves two-way communication between the teachers and the learners and it occurs non-contiguously. It also uses technology to mediate the necessary two-way communication. It involves the use of library, consultative and linking services, open decision, open admission policy, recruitment of personnel who are professionals and regular payment of salaries and allowance.
Besides, DE also involves grants to researchers, training of staff, involving multi-media approach, division of labour, identifying target group marketing the programme, record keeping, distributing of delivery services, monitoring income and expenditure and awarding of certificates at the end of the study (Ogile, 1998).
DE provides education for those whom schooling is not a realistic alternative. Secondly, it makes new skills and attitudes available to the people. Thirdly, it circumvents cultural obstacles that prevents some people from utilizing school effectively. Lastly, it uses scarce educational resources more effectively and modify the schooling system itself (Abouzahr, 1995).
Furthermore, DE is cost effective system of instruction independent of time, location and space, and can be used for a variety of learning situation such as full time, part time, graduates and under graduate, certification and continuing education. It also accommodates diverse learning styles, provides access to remote and normally inaccessible, under-represented groups in rural and remote locations such as women (Olapuje, 2001).
DE is a system of teaching and learning which adapts and adopts various instructional medial capable of providing access to qualitative education for diverse learners in a cost-effective and efficient manner such that learners will develop the full potentials for lifelong and life-wide learning (Okebukola, 2001).
The objectives of DE according to Olepuje (2001) are
- provide access to educational opportunities in a cost effective manner for those who otherwise have been denied access to education;
- provide a second chance for those who left school for one reason or the other, but who having matured further would want to make a re-entry into the knowledge arena;
- provide a chance for those who did not avail themselves the opportunity to go to school, but are still within the age-range for UBE, to make up for their shortcomings, or to become literate and get on with life;
- enrich the knowledge base of students in regular school programmes as well as others who cannot afford to attend full time schooling; and
- deliver educational services in a manner that would motivate learners to realize that learning is a life-long affair.
DE should meet the needs of all and should adequately and appropriately adress amongst others the following issues:
- access and equity
- alleviation of capacity constraints
- provision of lifelong and life-wide education
- development of social civil literacy
- education of the citizenry to remove illiteracy and poverty
- development of cultural and socially tolerant people who exercise ethical and moral affairs with a community spirit (Olapuje, 2001).
Empowerment according to Ruth (1990) is the opening up of avenues for generations of people in the nation to participate actively and enjoy their participation in the family, community, society and in the world at large. Empowerment entails a complexity of change in developmental issues such as raising productivity, widening access to education, improving nutrition and living conditions, providing legal and political recognition, maintaining cultural values enjoying peaceful co-existence, improving health condition, enhancing agriculture (Ogili, 1998).
Empowerment in the context of women issue has been misunderstood by both the sincere and cynical. Some people understand empowerment of women to be encouraging women to feel more superior than they actually are. Others see empowerment of women as a threat to males in term of over shadowing them. Others regard it as undesirable women liberation (Akande, 1994).
In the most refined sense of the word, empowerment of women is consciousness awareness in both men and women for participatory and integrated development of all available human resources in nation or community. It is a social consciousness mechanism by the decision makers in a nation to re-construct society and effect changes that will contribute to national development (Ogili, 1998).
Furthermore empowerment entails a complexity of changes in the social conscience of the ruling class, to make decision that are humane and that can make diverse interest groups in the society, labour together towards a common goal of nationalization (Olapodo, 1996).
Empowerment is a process to facilitate and enable people to acquire skills, knowledge and confidence to make responsible choices and to carry them out. It is about helping to create settings which facilitate autonomous functioning (Ruth, 1990). He adds that empowerment is an enabling process which enhances people’s own abilities and capacities to direct and control their own lives. By its very nature, it is unique to individual or the group to be self-helping, self-reliant and self-activating.
Safe-motherhood covers all aspects which contribute to make women safe during the perilous period of pregnancy and delivery. Some women are more at risk than others, especially girls under the age of fifteen or women in the mid or late forties (Kauba, 1995). For women, motherhood is a central focus of their lives, because a childless woman is regarded as an aberration in our society, sometimes almost a social outcast.
Health and well-being elude the majority of women. A major barrier for women to the achievement of the highest attainable standard of health is inequality (UN, 2001).
The goal of education and by extension DE includes, the development of functional skills, literacy and numeracy which can lead to life-long and life-wide education to people especially women, and help them to increase income and the development of critical consciousness and professional competencies, such that women can initiate, create and manage themselves in their environment for their growth and development (Ogili, 1998).
In Nigeria today, women are beginning to assert their influences in all spheres of human endeavour; they play vital roles in the development of their homes and communities. They generally play major roles in agriculture, social, cultural and economic life all aimed at the development of the nation. Education ought to be directed to the full development of women personality and to strengthening of their human right and fundamental freedoms (Fabulu, 2001).
Women optimal health is vital to their empowerment. Diseases and ill health affect women and men differently because of biological and social factors. Women have biological chances over men, in that women have a longer life expectancy and also have biological advantages in that they bear the burden of reproduction (Obianyo, 2001).
The study by Straws (1992) compared measures of ill-health in many countries. He concluded that even though women live longer, they are more sickly and disabled than men throughout their life cycle. The health of women is a prerequisite for the health of families, communities and society at large.
Poverty, ignorance and disease have remained as conjoined problem that have continued to obstruct the growth of women in the society. Women ought to have the opportunity for protecting, promoting and maintenance of their health and this can be achieved through empowering them.
Although, discrimination has been recorded in the socio-cultural, economic and political sphere of women endeavour, deprivation of educational opportunities appears the most damaging to them. The importance of education to human existence cannot be over emphasized. “It is the basis for the full promotion and participation of women for the improvement of their status” (Obianyo, 2001). It is a basic tool that should be given to women in order to fulfill their role as full members of the society.
Education in general can be described as a window of opportunities, impacting on daily living in more ways than one. Thus it brings about reduction of poverty, remains virtually the only “Vaccine” currently available for warding off diseases, improves nutrition, reduces fertility, improves income and productivity and also enhances political participation (Fabulu, 2000).
Through DE women are empowered to overcome problems associated with safe motherhood such as problems of disorders of the reproduction process. The role of women as human resources in social-economic development are increasing and efforts are under way throughout the world to improve the status of women and increase their opportunity for economic health and social participation (Thorine, 1998).
Safe motherhood is a culmination of services for women for the beginning of life and the ability to choose when to become pregnant. The health of women before and during pregnancies and throughout the rest of their lives is an essential element in the health of the children (WHO, 1994).
Since DE helps to provide lifelong and life-wide education, develop social civil literacy, provide and enrich knowledge base, deliver educational services in manner that will motivate learners, provide educational opportunities in a cost-effective manner, it is worthwhile that it should be used on women for them to learn to critically reflect upon their lives situation. It would grant them the opportunity, choices, conditions, prospects, facilities, advantages and the necessary where-with-all for them to rise above and improve themselves to afford the basic necessity of life. It will also afford women opportunity towards achieving total developmental power both in international relations and in institution through society. It will also help women acquire the knowledge and skills that will lead to attitudinal changes, capacity building, consciousness raising, and building self esteem.
It is the interest of the researcher to focus this study on women, especially in rural areas because mortality rate is usually high in rural areas due to lack of knowledge, exposure, inadequate facilities and equipment needed in their health centres and maternity homes for child birth. DE will help to equip women educationally to ensure good health so that they will live effectively and efficiently in human society they exist.
The researcher also focuses especially on the literate women who can read and write in the subject and also illiterate women who know how to read and write but not knowing much about this particular subject area (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Sixth Edition, 2000).
Statement of Problems
Maternal mortality figures remain obstinately and tragically high in our society. Despite all attempts made by parents (mothers at home) in educating their children informally on safe motherhood, by the government in providing maternal health services and non governmental organisation like Child Care Trust and various bodies on such subjects as improving surveillance of pregnancy, delivery and post-natal period, regulating fertility and reducing maternal health and disabilities; there are high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity.
Most women die not from diseases but during the normal life-enhancing process of procreation. Many women suffer serious conditions that affect them for the rest of their lives. Maternal deaths are caused by direct result of complications during pregnancy, delivery or post-partum period.
Government of Nigeria has spent huge amount of money in providing health services for the citizens in the country. They have programmes organised and set in motion nationally and locally on how to improve health services of women. Many health centres, cottage hospitals, and maternity centres have been opened with equipment with a view to making safe motherhood a success.
International agencies and national governments everywhere are trying to respond effectively to this vast human tragedy of 1,500 women dying in child birth every day (WHO, 2002).
Statistics collected from the analysis done by WHO and UNICEF in 2002 on maternal mortality and morbidity shows that there are high rate. In 1998, 80,000 women die each year as a result of unsafe abortion which means 13 percent or one in eight of pregnancy related deaths are due to this cause. In Nigeria, by the year 2000, maternal mortality ratio was 41 per 100,000 live birth. In 2001, it was shown that 43 per 100,000 die and in 2002, 50 per 100,000 women die as a result of complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
Significance of the Study
The study has some relevance to the families in Nsukka Local Government Area by educating their wards especially girls and to equip them for safe motherhood for effective upbringing of their children thereby supporting the family.
Secondly, the study will help women to be conscious of their bodies (health) especially when they are young and from problems related to child bearing and to prevention of serious illness relating to child bearing.
Thirdly, the study will help the facilitators or instructors in DE to be equipped and be familiar with the study package they will use to educate women for safe motherhood.
Fourthly, it will help the local government area of the study to map-out effective strategies they will use to educate women through DE.
Lastly it will persuade the entire citizens of the area to educate their women and young girls, so that they will be healthy by practicing safe motherhood. All these will help to achieve the objectives of DE and at the same time help them for safe motherhood.
The Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to find out effective ways of improving, equipping and empowering women for safe motherhood through DE in Nsukka LGA.
Specifically the study aims
- To find out the characteristics of women in the area of study.
- To find out women perception on the effectiveness of DE media in safe motherhood empowerment.
- To find out the skill women require to access information on safe motherhood.
- To find out categories of personnel required for empowering women for safe motherhood.
- To find out how adequate DE facilities are for empowerment.
- To find out problems envisaged in the adoption of DE strategies in empowering women for safe motherhood.
- To find out ways to ameliorate them.
- What are the characteristics of the women?
- What is the perception on the effectiveness of DE media on safe motherhood?
- What skills do women require to access information (books) on safe motherhood?
- What are the categories of DE personnel required for empowering women for safe motherhood?
- How adequate are DE facilities for empowerment?
- What are problems envisaged in the adoption of DE strategy in empowering women for safe motherhood?
- What are the strategies to ameliorate them?
- There is no significant difference in the perception of literate and illiterate women on facilities used in DE for safe motherhood in Nsukka Local Government Area.
- There is no significant difference between women and health personnel on the choice of media and ways of empowering women for safe motherhood in Nsukka Local Government Area.
Scope of the Study
The study will focus on empowering women educationally using DE in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State in communities like Ede Oballa, Lejja, Obimo, Eha-Alumona, Okpuje, Ibagwa, Anuka, Edem-Ani, Obukpa, Okutu and Opi. All emphasis will be in identification of areas of empowering women to ensure safe motherhood.
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