This is a study of the enrolment pattern into secretarial studies programmes in tertiary institutions in Edo State of Nigeria. This is against the backdrop that secretarial studies is seen by most people as a gender bias. However, recent developments in the curriculum offer a new impetus for both male and female to embrace it especially in view of the prevailing graduate and youth unemployment situation and general economic downturn in Nigeria. Competent secretarial graduates are sure to secure gainful employment or become entrepreneurs. The study was conducted across two out of the three levels of tertiary institutions that offer secretarial studies programmes, namely; university and college of education. Polytechnic was not included. The findings revealed that the enrolment into secretarial studies programmes was generally low even though it is steady. Whereas female enrolment dominated the trend but subjected to statistical analysis it showed no significant difference between male and female. The trend analysis also indicated that enrolment into secretarial studies programmes between universities and college of education was not significantly different. Based on this it was concluded that the enrolment trend showed a high level of consistency and on the basis of this, the following recommendations were made: the enrolment trend into secretarial studies programmes in tertiary institutions in Edo State should be sustained; more male students should be encouraged to enroll into secretarial studies programme.

Keywords: Gender; Equality; Gender equality; Gender inequality; Enrollment trend.


Gender refers to the social differences and relations between men and women that are learned and, vary widely among societies and cultures, and changes over time (UNESCO 1998). The term gender does not replace the term sex, which refers exclusively to biological differences between men and women. The term gender is used to analyze the roles, responsibilities, constraints, opportunities and needs of women and men in all areas and in any given social context. Gender roles are learned behaviours in a given society, community or other social group. The condition, activities, tasks and roles are affected by age, class, race, ethnicity and religion as well as by the geographical, economic and political environment.

Gender is one word that is often misunderstood and frequently used interchangeably with the word “sex”. Sometimes even, gender is engaged with women especially from the time when the word gained prominence in developmental issues. Okeke (2004) defines sex as the biological make-up of someone that physically and physiologically makes that person female or male. Foreman (1972) sees sexism as those attitudes and actions, which demean or stereotype individuals or groups because of their sex. Gender equality between men and women, entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices (ILO 2000). Gender equality means that the different behaviour, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally. It does not mean that women and men have become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born males or females.

The gender concept has found prominence in access to education in contemporary times.

Stromquist (1988) investigated some factors related to the attainment of women in education including the access to schooling and the years of education attained. He observed that these factors are critical for women in developed and developing nations, while observing that the mainstreaming theories about gender inequalities are gender blind, and do not attempt to explain the gender differences in education. For him the socialist feminist theory offers the most acceptable explanation for the present condition of women’s inequality in education.

Vanello, Siemenska, Damien and Lvpring (1990) studied gender inequality among four countries of Canada, Italy, Poland and Romania and discovered gender inequalities in various areas of social life including values, attitudes, family work, education and public affairs. The result of the study concluded that today it is possible in several respects to speak of gender equality and not gender inequality, observing that while important disparities still survive, the world of women and the world of men are much less separate and distinct realities than before. The authors further observed that at the high school level in the four countries the number of boys and girls are about the same, while at the university level about one-third of the students are female, emphasizing the need to encourage more girls to proceed to the university level.

In a related study, Mansaray (1992) studied gender inequality in education and the result revealed that the female group in Nigeria is marginalized in education and should be given a better deal. Could the situation still be the same and in all educational programmes also? There is nothing in the Nigerian constitution and Education policy that discriminates against any gender in access to educational opportunities at all levels. The situation on the ground, however, portrays the contrary. Gender equity, which refers to equal access of females and males to societal and personal pursuits and accomplishments including education at all levels, namely primary, secondary and post secondary or tertiary has been hardly achieved. There have been various initiatives in Nigeria at universalizing the access to education to stem the tide of the access imbalance in favour of men. Such initiatives include Universal Primary Education (UPE) introduced in 1977 (revised in 1981 and 1989), providing a sense of direction in this regard. The policy states that for the benefit of all citizens, the country’s educational goals in terms of its relevance to the needs of the individual as well as in terms of the kind of society desired in relation to the environment and the realities of modern world and rapid social changes should be clearly set out.

Another initiative was the introduction of Universal Basic Education (UBE) Programme. The UBE programme was launched in September 1999 with the aim to provide free, universal education for every Nigerian child of school age, irrespective of gender. The scope of basic education was subsequently expanded in 1992 to include both formal and non-formal, mass literacy for adolescents, adult and women education as well as pursuit of equity (UNESCO, 1998)

These initiatives were intended to address the perceived gender imbalance and equity to education in order to correct the social, economic and political defects in the society. Emetarom (2000) observed that gender inequality in school enrolment with girls and women as the disadvantaged appears to be a well known feature of Nigeria educational landscape. Emetaron further stressed that the expansion of the scope of basic education has led to the setting up of some of the mid-decade goals set by Nigeria to be achieved by 1995 including:

Reduction of the gender gap in primary education in 1990 by one-third (Boys 43%, Girls 33%). Gender gap = 10%.

Reduction of adult female literacy rate by one-third of its 1990 level (i.e. 61% to 40.7%) by the year 1995 (UNESCO1998) pp. 124

Okojie (1998) noted that in Nigeria enrollments have increased phenomenally since 1960, yet fewer girls than boys are enrolled at all levels of education in Nigeria, and the gap widens at higher levels and in rural areas. The report of Joint Consultation Committee on Education of 1991 shows that the total population of boys in primary schools of the states and Abuja was 7,352,305 against 5,874,097 girls giving an edge to boys of 1,478,208 over girls. At the secondary level, with special reference to the senior secondary, the population of boys was 458,447 as against 357,385 for girls. The population of boys was in excess of 101,062 over the girls. These figures established a gender school enrollment disparity at both levels in favour of boys. This confirms Maryland (1983) observation that gender disparity tilts in favour of males in area of education either in number on enrollment, graduates turnout, facilities provided at all levels of education, from pre-school to post primary school levels.

The World Bank (1994) report paints a grim picture of gender disparity in area of education when it noted that one billion people cannot read or write and two-third of this figure are women; while out of the 300 million school age children that are not in school, 60 per cent of them are girls.

It is essential also to see the national trend as illustrated in figure 1 of the gender enrolment summary of technical colleges by trade (1993/94-1997/98)


Figure 1: Gender enrollment summary of Nigeria technical colleges by trade (1993/94-1997/98)

Source: Fig. 1 (graph) culled from students’ enrollment into technical colleges.

Prepared by:

The organizing Committee National Seminar on TVE in Nigeria: Vision and Action. Abuja 31st October to 2nd November 2000.

The figure shows the summary enrolment pattern by gender into technical colleges nation-wide. It is observed that boys’ enrolment in 1993/94 session was about 38,000 while girls’ enrolment was merely about 6000; this trend continued in 1994/95 with a slight drop in boys’ enrolment to approx imately 36,000 while girls’ enrolment rose marginally to about 6,500. Boys’ enrolment dropped in 1995/96 to about 34,000 while girls’ rose marginally to about 7000. For the 1996/97 session boys’ enrolment rose again to approximately the 1994/95 mark of 36,000 while the figure for the girls improved slightly to about 7000. In the 1997/98 session boys’ figure rose to about 37,000 while girls’ figure rose to the highest during the period under review to about 8000. These figures depict a high gender disparity in enrolment into technical colleges nation-wide making it worse than the enrolment into primary and secondary schools levels.

Secretarial Studies is the branch of Business Education which emphasizes job competency, career preparation and work adjustments and prepares students to enter teaching and office occupations as capable and intelligent members of the labour force. The secretarial studies component of the Business Education programmes offered at the tertiary level has also undergone a marked transformation from the traditional to the more sophisticated in response to technological changes that have taken place in business and office administration. The advent of information and communication technology has had its impact on secretarial studies curriculum thereby meeting the challenges of the evolving trends in the business and commercial world.

Secretarial Studies programmes are essentially offered at both the university and college of education levels. At the university level, the degree in focus is the Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. Students are admitted into a four or three year course depending on the mode of entry, that is, through direct entry or University Matriculation Examination (UME) of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

Successful candidates are admitted to business education programme at 100 level through the UME and 200 through Direct Entry modes but they specialize in secretarial studies as from 300 level. Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma in Edo State, however, admits students to specialize in secretarial studies through UME at 100 the level.

The programme at the college of education level is geared towards the award of the Nigeria Certificate of Education (NCE). It is a three-year programme with specialization in the second year. Admission into the NCE programmes is also through JAMB but with lower ordinary level entry qualification. The graduates of NCE constitute the bulk of the input for direct entry programmes at the university level though National Diploma (ND) Secretarial Studies graduates from Polytechnics are also given admission through the direct entry mode. At both levels (NCE and Degree), emphasis is on teacher education but the skill components together with some of the social and management science courses constitute the major input into the programmes to allow for job mobility from teaching to the business and industrial world. The admission exercise at both the Degree and NCE levels are not gender sensitive. There has not, therefore, been any policy discriminating against any gender in admission into secretarial studies programmes at both levels. Secretarial Studies programmes at the tertiary level matches other contemporary vocational and general education programmes in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. There are ample opportunities for gainful employment for competent secretarial studies graduates while it is also possible for them to be self-reliant because of their readily sellable skills. There is, therefore, no acceptable reason for any gender to shun or dominate the programmes. This can result in gender enrollment imbalance with attendant unintended consequences. Unlike their female counterparts, for example, male secretarial studies graduates employed outside the classrooms are free to work long hours of work required to be done by secretaries. Male secretaries are also free from the stress and emotions associated with pregnancy, child rearing and care, ante natal and post-natal leaves that deny organizations of the uninterrupted services of female secretarial hands. Freedom from such encumbrances male secretarial graduates would contribute continuously to organizations’ progress and overall national economic output and development.

In recent times in Nigeria, and even in the world at large there have been several gender sensitivity programmes aimed at correcting the glaring or perceived gender imbalance, especially in education against the female gender. These programmes are multifaceted: social, cultural, political, economic, and educational dimensions. The general feeling is that the female gender is disadvantaged and shortchanged in many areas of life. The woman, mother and the girl child are perceived not to have had their fair share of opportunities in life including access to education. There are, therefore, campaigns targeted to redress this perceived imbalance. Some of the gender sensitivity programmes are in the areas of empowering women economically, culturally, socially, politically and educationally. Some of such programmes include the agitation for a halt to female genital mutilation, enhancing the girl child right to education, a halt against women trafficking and prostitution, and agitation for equal education and job opportunities for both genders, among others.

Statement of the Problem

Public tertiary institutions offering Secretarial Studies programmes in Edo State include: University of Benin, Benin City, Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, and College of Education, Ekiadolor. Access to secretarial studies at the tertiary level is open to both male and female candidates. Nothing in the admission requirements by both universities and colleges of education offering secretarial studies programmes places any gender at any advantaged or disadvantaged position. Secretarial Studies has, however, been stereotyped towards the female gender. The early secretarial studies programmes were also devoid of social and management science courses. The programmes were narrow in scope and placed emphasis on the twin skill subjects of shorthand and typewriting. Today, the modern secretarial studies programme has been greatly enriched. It does not just restrict graduates to mere secretarial hands in the offices, but new doors have been opened for them to function as administration managers, and information managers. The new programme outlook requires not only high cognitive and affective skills but also highly advanced and sophisticated psychomotor skills as well. This development has opened a wide array of job opportunities for the graduates and new vistas for them in public perception. The demand for the services of secretarial personnel in various spheres of human endeavour continues to increase even in the face of serious unemployment and underemployment for graduates of some other disciplines.

With the foregoing, it is expected that the modern secretarial studies programmes as offered by tertiary institutions in Edo State should hold an equal level of attraction for both genders. In the face of the recent development and improved delivery of secretarial studies programmes one wonders, therefore, what the gender enrolment trend has been like into the programmes in tertiary institutions in Edo State and whether the gender inequality and imbalance is reflected in secretarial studies.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study to analyze the gender enrollment pattern into secretarial studies programmes in public tertiary institutions in Edo State between 2000/2001 to 2006/2007 academic sessions and make salient recommendations. Specifically, the study investigated the number of male and female enrollment into the programmes for the period under review in order to determine the trend and the difference in gender enrollment pattern between the universities and college of education.

Research Questions

To guide the study, the following three research questions were asked:

1. What has been the trend of male and female students’ enrolment into Secretarial Studies programmes in tertiary institutions in Edo State between 2000/2001 to 2006/2007 Academic Sessions?

2. Is male students’ enrolment trend in Secretarial Studies programmes in tertiary institutions in Edo State significantly different from female students’ enrolment trend?

3. Is there any significant difference in students’ enrolment trend into Secretarial Studies programmes between the universities and college of education?


In this study, question one was answered while questions two and three were formulated into hypotheses and tested.

HO1: There is no significant difference between male and female students enrollment trend into Secretarial Studies programmes in tertiary institutions in Edo State.

HO2: There is no significant difference in students’ enrollment trend into Secretarial Studies programmes between the universities and college of education in Edo State.

Scope of the Study

The study covered public tertiary institution in Edo State offering Business Education (Secretarial Studies) programmes. There are two public universities and one college of education offering secretarial studies programmes in Edo State. The study was restricted to the gender enrollment pattern of students into full-time secretarial studies programmes in the two public universities and one college of education in Edo State for the period of 2000/2001 to 2006/2007 academic sessions.

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