Towards Science Education for all: Teacher Support for Female Pupils in the Zimbabwean Science Class
This study sought to explore the challenges faced by female pupils studying sciences at high schools in Zimbabwe and the support they receive from their teachers. One hundred female pupils studying sciences at either Ordinary or Advanced level, and 10 science teachers from 10 selected secondary schools in one province in Zimbabwe, participated in the study. Questionnaires, focus group discussions and interviews were used to collect data. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse quantitative data while
qualitative data were analysed manually according to themes. We found that female pupils encounter various gender based challenges in the learning of science, such as labelling of science as ‘masculine’ and stereotypes related to the abilities of girls. At the same time, teachers’ non-verbal actions, interaction, selection of pupils to study science, allocation of responsibilities and expectations for pupils in the science class
were biased against female pupils. Teachers are encouraged to create conditions which may promote the involvement of girls in science, and not frighten them away from the subject.
Keywords: Challenges, female pupils, learning science, science education, teacher support.