Girls Education in IndiaIn 2017, India was ranked 130 in human development out of the world’s countries, putting the country on the medium level in regards to human development. This placement is due to imminent barriers that prevent girls from equal access to India’s academic opportunities. By contributing more to girls’ education, India’s ranking would improve as it would help to alleviate some poverty. This article presents the top 10 facts about girls’ education in India.

Top 10 Facts About Girls Education in India

  1. The caste system, dating back to 1200 BCE, is a form of discrimination that had been officially outlawed in 1955; however, its influence thrives in India’s modern-day education system. On the top of the system is a group called the Brahmins, and at the very bottom are Dalits (“untouchables”). This method has kept many Dalit girls secluded from promising scholastic endeavors. These children are often from their peers segregated during lunchtime and ridiculed by them in class. This rhetoric causes 51 percent of Dalit children to drop out of elementary school. Another law passed in 1989 was supposed to protect the Dalit caste, but it is not being sufficiently enforced.
  2. Gender inequality has deterred education for girls in India for a long time. In 2017, 32 percent of girls were not enrolled in school in comparison to 28 percent of boys. A male’s education in India is more valued, therefore; it is often seen as unnecessary to financially support a girl’s education due to these binding gender roles.
  3. In impoverished villages where schools are inaccessible and not encouraged, gender roles lead to a third of girls in India marrying off their educational futures. As high as 47 percent of the girls in India are subject to marriage by 18 years of age. This leads to early pregnancies, which makes it impossible to attend school as they must shoulder the stigma and the additional workload. Some regions also don’t permit pregnant girls to attend school, which puts education even further from their grasp.
  4. In 2009, the Right to Education Act (RTE), mandated that it is the right of every child to obtain a minimum amount of education. The program was supposed to make it compulsory for children ages 6 to 14 to access educational opportunities as more provisions were enacted. This was a step in the right direction, but more must be done to actively close the gender gap and retrain society to value girls’ education.
  5. The Right to Education Act in India seems to have improved the country’s ranking when looking at the growth in literacy rates. In 2001, literacy rates were 64.8 percent; however, this had increased to 74.04 percent by 2011. As of 2001, around 54 percent of girls were literate; however, after the RTE, the percentage had increased to more than 65 by 2011.
  6. Every year, 23 million girls in India drop out of school after they begin menstruating due to lack of sanitary napkin dispensers and overall hygiene awareness in schools. Lack of reproductive education leaves 71 percent of girls unaware of what takes place in their bodies during menstruation. Many girls even believe that was is happening is “unclean” and shameful. Even with awareness, lack of sanitary pads in rural areas force girls to use cloths that sometimes cause infections; only two to three women use sanitary pads.
  7. At least 47 percent of schools lack toilets, forcing girls to rid their bodily waste onto the streets, which is morally degrading to them. This is another reason they drop out of school, to avoid this shame. RTE included adding toilets to schools to solve this problem, but it wasn’t enough. Therefore, the Department of School Education and Literacy under Ministry of HRD implemented a program named, Swachh Vidyalaya, which would add $4,582.91 worth of toilets to schools.
  8. In Bihar, where the literacy rate for girls is 20 points lower than for their male counterparts, the trek to school is far. For someone in the Rampur Singhara village, the trek is 4 miles, and the bus fare is too expensive to send the child to school. However, the state government has given free bikes to families to encourage a higher literacy rate in poorer regions like Bihar. The bicycle program instantly showed success as the number of girls registering for schools went from 175,000 to 600,000 in the span of four years.
  9. India is expanding its horizons with technology to combat illiteracy, and it seems that women are benefiting the most. Computer-Based Functional Literacy (CBFL) teaches the basics of reading. This program targets individuals ages 20 to 50, which branches out India’s education system in terms of age for both sexes. Women comprised 81 percent of those who signed up for this efficient program. Girls who are at home due to poverty, gender roles or a host of other reasons are able to engage in education, thereby increasing the literacy rate.
  10. The poverty rate in India has declined from roughly 54 percent in 1983 to 21.2 percent in 2011 ever since educational improvements began taking place. Knowing this, it can be found that if India provided more resources for girls’ education, its GDP would increase. By simply increasing girls’ enrollment in secondary school by 1 percent, the  GDP in India would increase by $5.5 billion.

India aims to grow from a medium developed country to one of higher rank. Considering its recent strides in education, it is possible for India to attain this goal. However, this can only be done by realizing there is still more work to be done in closing the gap between boys and girls as these top 10 facts about girls’ education in India show.

Gowri Abhinanda

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls' Education in Kazakhstan
In 2012, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the ambitious Kazakhstan 2050 plan to make this Central Asian nation one of the world’s 30 most developed. Much of the plan revolves around the economic activity, but a crucial secondary function is to bolster and expand the country’s education system. Since Kazakhstan 2050 was kicked off, substantial strides have been made regarding making education and schools more accessible and high quality for all citizens. However, there are still barriers in place that prevent girls from utilizing of Kazakhstan’s growing scholastic offerings. In the article below, the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Kazakhstan are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Kazakhstan

  1. The topic of sex is very taboo in Kazakhstan, and as a result, there is no structure in place to educate young people about safe sex and health. State-level plans across the board offer very little, and the national Ministry of Education supplies nothing at all. Without a syllabus for teachers or schools and a cultural inability to discuss sex, the birth rate for girls ages from 15 to 19 years is 28 per 1,000. This rate coincides with a 20 percent decrease in gross enrollment of girls from lower to upper secondary school, where students are typically from 16 to 18 years old.
  2. In January 2017, the Ministry of Education passed a decision that all schools, except for universities, would require students to wear uniforms, and that religious garments of any kind would be banned. In schools across the country, substantial portions of female students refused to attend until the ban is lifted. In one school, 73 percent of hijab-wearing students refused to comply. Dissenters maintain the ban is unconstitutional.
  3. Human Development Indices and Indicators report illustrate problems with education and outcomes in Kazakhstan. The report uses the Gender Development Index that measures inequalities in achievement in three basic dimensions of human development: health, education and command over economic resources, which is measured by Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. The difference between male and female GNI is more than $11,000 and 12 percent more of the male population participate in the country’s labor force.
  4. In 2017, the Kazakhstan government invested $56 million in support of female entrepreneurship in order to improve upon the substantial job increase caused by female-owned small and medium enterprises. Additionally, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) kicked off a Women in Business program in 2015, that provides female-owned businesses with designates credit lines.
  5. Access to primary and secondary school is a constitutional right in Kazakhstan and education is compulsory from 7 to 15 ages, ending before the final two years of secondary school. The last nine years have seen a decline in primary school enrollment, dropping from 90 percent in 2008 to only 86 percent in 2017. However, secondary school enrollment has trended in the opposite direction with net enrollment improving from 90 percent in 2010 to 99.85 percent in 2017.
  6. While primary and secondary enrollment rates for boys and girls are mostly equal, far more women pursue advanced degrees. Around 64 percent of students pursuing masters degrees and 58 percent of doctoral students are women. Women with advanced degrees most often go into education, health and administrative working fields, while men tend towards technical fields.
  7. While there is little gender disparity in the national rate for the attendance of primary school, the regional metrics show that girls in certain locations are more likely to miss out on primary education. In East Kazakhstan, the net attendance for boys is 90 percent while girls attendance is only 72 percent.
  8. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a comparative study of the learning outcomes of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science. Kazakhstan’s results show no significant differences between girls and boys, whereas other participating countries on average see an 11 point difference in mathematics. However, PISA does reveal that rural students tend to lag behind their urban counterparts. To stem this tide the Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science has partnered with the World Bank to kick off the Modernization of Secondary School. The program will last for 17 years and $75 million will be spent on improvement of the quality of education to reduce the gap between rural and urban schools, and to support inclusive education.
  9. Kazakhstan has entirely closed its gender gap in regards to educational attainment. In September 2018, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Education and Science announced a collaborative plan to bring better education to women in Afghanistan. In collaboration with the EU and the governments of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, the unnamed program allocates $2.3 million for training and educating women.
  10. A study conducted by the Asian Development Bank found that the overwhelming majority of college and vocational students in STEM fields were men. In order to overcome the antiquated beliefs that push women towards certain jobs and fields, the International Youth Foundation partnered with Chevron to start the Zangar Initiative. This program is meant to stimulate students interests in STEM fields while in primary and secondary school and establishes after-school clubs for students to combine their math and science lessons with engineering design processes to address real-world problems.

Kazakhstan’s aspiration to be one of the world’s most developed nations seems very likely considering the progress the country has made in recent history. By investing in and rethinking the educational system, Kazakhstan shows the importance of education for the country’s future and that, in order for the country to realize its potential, so must its citizens regardless of their gender. Educating women is a must when achieving the status of a prosperous nation.

– Nick Sharek

Photo: UNICEF

10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Honduras
As one of the largest and poorest countries in Central America, Honduras faces several obstacles in girls’ education. The people of Honduras fear gang violence and human trafficking. Child labor and domestic violence are also issues that the government continues to combat. These are only a few facts that impact education in Honduras and the reasons why one in three Honduran girls drop out of school every year. The top 10 facts about girls’ education in Honduras include problems connected to cultural attitudes, quality of education, and the issues related to crime.

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Honduras

  1. Primary school (ages 6 to 12) is compulsory and free to all Honduran children. There is an 80 percent rate of completion of primary school nationally. In 2014, the Honduran Ministry of Education created a Strategic Plan that was designed to correct educational issues at every level. One of the first steps was to make the first two years of secondary school mandatory. Coverage of secondary education level for girls is 53 percent, whereas coverage for boys is 46 percent.
  2. A national survey indicates that girls in urban settings have a 7 percent illiteracy rate, compared to 5.5 percent of illiterate urban boys. Additionally, 16.8 percent of girls in rural settings are illiterate, while 17.5 percent of rural boys are illiterate. Higher rates of poverty correlate directly with higher rates of illiteracy. This is because poorer families, typically those in rural areas, are only able to send their girls to school for 5.8 years, which dramatically increases rates of illiteracy. On the other hand, wealthier families in the larger cities are able to send girls to school for 11 years, which lowers female adult illiteracy to 2.4 percent.
  3. From 2008 to 2012, 98 percent of Honduran girls were enrolled in primary school. However, in Honduras, one out of four children are drop-outs. Interestingly, drop-out rates have been linked to the level of parental education as 78 percent of children who dropped out of school in 2016 had parents with either no education or primary education only.
  4. A 2015 study indicates that 29 percent of girls performed unsatisfactorily in math, while 62 percent were classed as needing improvement. For boys, performance in the same category resulted in 32 percent unsatisfactory and 60 percent needing improvement. In addition to performing at lower rates than Honduran boys, performance standards for Honduran girls are significantly lower than other regional Latin countries.
  5. Because of high rates of crime, girls in urban settings are often forced to not attend class or drop-out altogether for fear of their own safety. For urban girls, the threat of harassment and sexual assault from gang members is a debilitating reality. Gangs often establish their dominance in an area of a city by murdering girls and leaving their mutilated bodies to be found in public places.
  6. While rural areas have less crime, the people living in rural settings have more pressing financial concerns. Many rural children in Honduras are forced to work at a young age, and girls, in particular, are tasked with taking care of younger siblings, as well as marrying young and starting families of their own. A 2014 program launched by Population Services International called Chicas en Conexión aims to empower nearly 700 rural girls to make choices about their own lives. The program also promotes equality by involving community leaders, providing safe spaces, and lobbying for equality legislation.
  7. Not only children suffer from the country’s impoverished educational system. Teachers in rural areas have difficulty obtaining up-to-date and functional teaching materials, as well as facing the issue of inadequate school buildings. However, teachers are fighting back. By partnering with the U.N. Refugee Agency, teachers in Honduras are making their voices heard and advocating for better policies to reduce the systemic shortfalls in the Honduran educational system. The Honduran Ministry of Education has promised to increase school funding and implement a prevention and protection strategy for schools by 2020.
  8. In 2014, only 24.4 percent of girls enrolled in college courses, significantly less than many other developed countries in the region. Moreover, even for girls who have higher education, there is a much lower chance of being hired for work outside of the home. In 2018, women made up only 37 percent of the labor force. This is due to the cultural custom of women working inside the home.
  9. An estimated 26 percent of Honduran women become mothers before the age of 18, which contributes to the high drop-out rates of Honduran girls. In 2013, the Committees for the Prevention of Pregnancies and STIs among Adolescents (COPEITSA), a peer-education sexual health program for Honduran children, was launched. The program teaches sexual health and family planning- topics that are all but afterthoughts in Honduran education and public awareness.
  10. As recently as 2016, 34 percent of girls were married before the age of 18. However, in 2017, the Honduran government banned child marriage. Even with parental permission, it is now illegal in Honduras for anyone over 18 to be married. This is a drastic change from past decades, where child marriage was common and kept girls uneducated and in poverty.

Since 2007, the rate of education for girls has almost doubled in Honduras. Even taking into account school performance and drop-out rates included in the text above, the number of girls being enrolled in school and pursuing secondary education has improved over the last decade. It is clear from the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Honduras that many of the new changes implemented by the Honduran government are designed to favor girls. This is an effort to address mistakes made in the past and correct the systematic failure of girl’s education in Honduras. As of 2014, the Strategic Plan set forth by the Honduran Ministry of Education has addressed many of the pitfalls in their education system. The Honduran government continues to create legislation designed to promote equality for girls and better the educational prospects of girls nationwide.

– Rachel Kingsley
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 facts about girls’ education in Haiti
Education reform in Haiti has provided opportunities for women and young girls to escape the conditions of extreme poverty in the country. However, girls continue to struggle in getting an affordable education and traditional gender norms challenge the potential opportunities for women. Haiti ranks 177th out of 186 countries in the world in terms of national spending on education. Advocating for the benefits of education for young girls can break these barriers. In the text below, the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Haiti are presented.   

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Haiti

  1. Girls have shown an increase in primary school enrollment. From 2008 to 2012, primary school attendance for girls has grown to 77.7 percent compared with boys at 76.7 percent.
  2. Haiti’s education system has some challenges as ineffective teaching methods contribute to low-quality education. In addition, there is a persistent shortage of qualified teachers who remain unpaid. Around half of the public sector of teachers lack basic qualifications, 80 percent of them have not received any pre‐service training and 25 percent have never had a formal education or have attained a secondary school.
  3. The 2010 earthquake left Haiti in shambles and further damaged already-weak school infrastructure. The earthquake destroyed 4,000 schools, including one of the biggest educators of Haitian women and girls, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny. Schools have struggled to provide students with a quality education. In some instances, children aged 5 to 12 attended classes in one-room local churches. Following the earthquake, these were temporary measures to shelter student so they could resume their schooling.
  4. Educate a Child is an organization that implemented a project called Quality Basic Education for Out of School Children (OOSC) with the goal to increase access to education by building primary school options in Haiti, as well as expanding them. The project’s goal is to reach at least 50,000 school children or OOSC within the following sub-groups of girls and boys: in domestic servitude situations, in rural and semi-rural areas, in rural farm situations without economic means to attend school and in street or semi-street situations. Currently, there is one OOSC program in Haiti. The project benefits parents of OOSC, teachers, school officials and an estimate of 227,000 children.
  5. Young girls with little or no education are more likely to have children and be victims of domestic violence. About 70 percent of women in Haiti have been victims of gender-based domestic violence. One survey found that 13.1 percent of girls and 14.6 percent of boys between the ages of 10 and 14 who were not enrolled in school were among the estimated 150,000 to 500,000 children who lived with non-relatives as unpaid domestic servants, and 65 percent of them being girls. Girls who are unable to attend school go to domestic labor and become vulnerable to physical, sexual and psychological abuse, unlike the girls who finish primary and secondary school who are more likely to escape these conditions and marry later in their adult years.
  6. Gender discrimination continues to be an obstacle for girls seeking access to education. Children from the ages of 5 to 17 work as unpaid domestic laborers. These children are also called restavek, and the majority of them are girls. Though girls enter school on par with boys, they are marginalized and are subject to higher dropout rates.
  7. Most Haitian schools follow French education model and French is used on the national tests. This creates a language barrier since most Haitians speak Creole. Less than 22 percent of Haitian primary school children pass the entrance examination at the end of grade five. About 13 percent of girls succeed in these entrance exams, while the rest are ill-prepared and unable to proceed to secondary school.
  8. The literacy rate is approximately 61 percent- 64 percent for males and 57 percent for females. Haiti Now is an organization committed to investing in accelerated educational programs for girls vulnerable to domestic servitude and at risk to drop out. They build on literacy skills by distributing and purchasing textbooks for young girls. As of 2016, 7,246 textbooks have been distributed to classrooms throughout Haiti and 425 girls have been recipients to textbooks.
  9. Malnutrition and natural disasters pose an obstacle for girls to stay in school. The World Food Program (WFP) delivers daily hot meals to about 485,000 school children in over 1,700 predominantly public schools throughout Haiti. WFP found that girls’ education contributes to a 43 percent reduction in child malnutrition over time, while food availability accounts for 26 percent reduction. For families who struggle to provide food at home, food programs in school also ensure that girls stay in school and are focused and ready to learn.
  10. The access to primary education in Haiti has improved with 90 percent of primary school-aged children enrolled in school to date. Although these changes are an improvement in Haiti’s education system, quality education remains a challenge. Many students repeat a grade and about 53 percent drop out before completing primary school, while 16 percent of girls stop attending primary school altogether.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Haiti demonstrate how barriers are broken and how conditions continue to improve for girls that are eager to learn. However, gender discrimination continues to be an obstacle to Haiti’s development in education. Despite these inequities, women in Haiti continue to be the necessary leaders, caregivers, professionals and heads of households by serving their communities and responding in times of crisis. As Haiti continues to rebuild, it will be critical to providing educational opportunities for the current generation of girls to ensure sustainable development efforts are met.

– Luis Santos
Photo: Flickr

top 10 facts about girls’ education in Mozambique
The Southeast African country of Mozambique has made great progress in education in terms of enrollment and access. However, retention rates the quality of education are still inadequate and are still a huge issue for the country. The top 10 facts about girls’ education in Mozambique presented in the text below will cover the successes and shortcomings of the school system in the country and the effects it has on girls and gender equality.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Mozambique

  1. Mozambique ranked 139th out of 159 countries on the UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index. Various cultural beliefs that insist on the inferiority of women expose females to threats of disease, discrimination and violence.
  2. Around 94 percent of girls in Mozambique enroll in primary school. Mozambique’s primary and secondary schools became free in 2003, making them accessible even for low-income families. Mozambique also invested in teachers and infrastructure, reducing the distance students needed to travel to get to school. The school system reform nearly doubled school enrollments from 2003 to 2014.
  3. Despite the fact that there is a high number of girls in primary schools, only 11 percent of girls continue to study in secondary schools. As girls grow older, they are met by an increasing domestic workload and more responsibilities. Many girls choose to stay at home in order to do chores or work to help their families.
  4. In terms of primary and secondary school enrollment, Mozambique does continually increase gender parity, from 0.74 in 2000 to 0.92 in 2015.
  5. Although enrollment rates have increased dramatically, the quality of education in Mozambique still demands improvement. An alarming 66 percent of students graduate from primary school without having proper reading, writing and math skills. As one USAID sponsored study showed, over half of third graders could not read and those who could have great difficulty doing so.
  6. Mozambique’s female literacy rate is less than half of that of males. Only 28 percent of females know how to read and write compared to 60 percent of males.
  7. Women tend to enroll in more secretarial and administrative courses, composing 60 percent of students in those fields. Agriculture and technical training, however, are more male-dominated, reflecting gender stereotypes and the type of chores assigned to girls and boys.
  8. In a study done by the UNGEI, 66 percent of girls reported physical, sexual, or psychological violence and abuse and about a quarter of those abuses were conducted in schools. Young girls often face sexual abuse from older men, leading to unwanted pregnancies. In many cases, poverty pushes girls to exchange sex for money, food, or school supplies. As a result, their sexual activity starts earlier, along with their exposure to deadly threats of HIV and AIDS.
  9. Teen pregnancies prove to be a major reason for girls dropping out of school early. From 30 to 40 percent of girls are pregnant before they turn 18 years old.  As a result, many girls leave school to take care of their child and household, taking night classes instead. Although these classes allow them to continue schooling, girls often have to travel long distances to attend class, putting themselves in danger. The burden of taking care of a child, working and performing household chores can be overbearing and may leave little time for school. Teen pregnancies also put girls’ lives at risk as girls between 15 and 19 years are four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related issues than women over 20.
  10. Child marriages are another roadblock to education. Almost half of the girls in Mozambique are married before they turn 18 and around 15 percent are married before they turn 15. As a result, girls must drop out of school to stay home or work to take care of their families. Mozambique is working harder to enforce the legal age of marriage (18 years) through the initiation of the National Strategy for the Prevention and Combating of Early Marriage in 2016. The strategy serves to empower young women and target vulnerable teens.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Mozambique show that great strides in education and gender equality have been made in the country, but more work needs to be done. Teen pregnancies and marriages pose a major threat to girls’ education, keeping them in the cycle of poverty and oppression. Improvements to education allow them to break free of that cycle and pursue better lives for them and for their communities.

– Massarath Fatima
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Fiji
In recent years, Fiji has made gender equality in education a priority. Women and girls are encouraged to achieve their academic goals and take advantage of the flourishing community. This is great news, but sometimes, there are obstacles and growth brings growing pains. In the article below top 10 facts about girls’ education in Fiji that will try to shed light on the state of schooling and academia for females are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Fiji

  1. Fijian women and girls, especially those in rural areas, face disadvantages regarding their reproductive health. They rarely receive the education and resources to adequately care for themselves during menstruation. Twenty-five percent of primary schools in Fiji do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities and water supply, which creates difficulties when it comes to female sanitation and managing menstruation. When there are inadequate sanitation facilities in schools, menstruating students and teachers are highly impacted. Girls may miss as much as 20 percent of school days due to menstruation.
  2. In 2014, The Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Jiko Luveni, opened the Ability to Shine Production Centre. Located in Suva, the facility can produce 300 sanitary pads a week so women have access to affordable napkins. The center was also meant to make the lives of rural women easier and empower female students to attend school.
  3. Female representation in school management positions is inadequate, meaning there are very few women who are in positions in committees responsible for administering management or finances. Women occupy only 10 percent of positions on committees at schools that are in rural and remote areas. These schools are considered to be the most underprivileged and impoverished.
  4. On October 23, 2018, The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle announced that two grants will be awarded to the Fiji National University and the University of the South Pacific. These grants would help support access to higher education for women in Fiji. She explained that through work study, grants and scholarships she was able to attend university and she thinks every girl deserves the same opportunity. These grants will allow each school to run workshops that empower their female staff.
  5. In developing countries, when there is conflict or hardship, girls’ education is often times the first thing affected. In Fiji, it is a common gender stereotype or assumption that a girl is going to decide to stay home, be a mother or do housework rather than educating herself, making her education low priority.
  6. Women who completed school and received the same or similar education as Fijian men are not as prevalent in the workforce. There is only 65 percent of women with certificates or diplomas who are working, whereas 89 percent of men with the same education are in the workforce.
  7. Of the 30,000 Fijians at the three Fijian universities, 53 percent are women. Even though women make up more than half of the students in higher education, there is only a small proportion enrolled to qualify in technical occupations.
  8. Thirty-six percent of men of 25 years old and above and 40 percent of women of the same age have a similar level of education which is a secondary qualification. Secondary education lasts four years and includes courses like metalwork, woodwork and home economics.
  9. Social norms, low salaries for women and difficult transportation lead to a lack of women in the workforce. When almost 50 percent of the population is not given the same rights or opportunities as the other half, this affects children and is especially makes impactful on young girls.
  10. Fiji’s National Gender Policy was launched in 2014. This policy promotes the advancement of women’s rights and provides gender sensitization training, gender analysis and fodder for gender-sensitive language in legislation and government documents. It also includes strategies for boosting women’s participation in decision-making processes. An area of focus for this policy is girls’ access to basic services including education and health services.

While some of the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Fiji are difficult to grasp, others show signs of improvement. Fiji has made strides forward when it comes to gender equality in education and the workplace. Although there is a continued promise from the government to keep pushing for female empowerment and equality, there is yet to be a plan set in stone to ensure this. The present is brighter than the past, but with awareness, the future could be even brighter.

As Joeli Cawaki, The Commissioner for the Western Division stated: “We in Fiji are fortunate that our children have been given equal rights and opportunities to attain an education. Therefore, I encourage you to make the best of this opportunity. Educate your children, especially the girl child.”

– Malena Larsen
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Guyana
Guyana, a nation located on the Northeastern shoulder of South America, has continually made efforts to improve its education system but the country’s social, political and economic problems have had a devastating effect on it. The lack of funding for education had lead to poor conditions in schools, but Guyana’s government has implemented the Education Sector Plan 2014-2018 in order to improve its education system at all levels. In the text below, 10 facts about girls’ education in Guyana are presented.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Guyana

  1. The gender disparity in education between Guyanese boys and girls continues to grow as they transition into higher grade levels. Girls are outperforming boys in numerous subjects and are more likely to stay in school while boys tend to discontinue. Primary school enrollment for girls was 83 percent, compared to the same figure for boys that was at 95 percent. Secondary school enrollment for girls is 100 percent while it is 96 percent for boys. Primary completion rates for girls is 97 percent and for boys- 98 percent. At the tertiary level, enrollment for girls is twice as high compared to boys.
  2. In 2013, girls in the coastal areas of Guyana scored 15 to 23 percentage points higher in Math and English than those in the hinterland areas of Guyana. These results are partly due to the higher percentage of poverty and lack of school resources in hinterland areas.
  3. The teaching profession is seen as the feminization of schooling because women dominate this field. In 2012, 70 percent of secondary education teachers were female and only 27 percent were male. This result is due to tight gender roles in Guyana as girls are seen as more nurturing, open-minded and cooperative. Boys tend to choose non-traditional subjects such as Science and Technology.
  4. The Ministry’s Labour Department is responsible for creating the National Training Project for Youth Empowerment, which is a 12-week technical and vocational education and training program that targets out-of-school-youth in Guyana. Compared to boys, there was a higher rate of girls that signed up for service occupations such as health services, home economics (623 girls, 8 boys) and IT/Clerical (183 girls, 30 boys).
  5. First Lady Sarah Granger and Minister of Telecommunications Cathy Hughes have implemented Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Guyana that encourages girls to pursue non-traditional careers. They believe that Information Communications Technology (ICT) will provide girls and women with essential skills that will “promote literacy, improve access to health care, and enable the exercise of legal rights and participation in government.” Girls in STEM are the future that will allow Guyana to succeed. Women are a part of present too, as 30 percent of Guyana’s Parliament are female. This percentage of women in Parliament is active since 2005.
  6. Guyana has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and it is one of two countries that are a part of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief. The knowledge about HIV prevention among young girls aged between 15 and 25 is about 50 percent. For young boys, the knowledge about HIV prevention is 40 percent. Knowledge about safe sex and HIV/AIDS prevention increases with education level for both boys and girls. It is important to educate girls about prevention because girls are more likely to get HIV/AIDS to due biological, socio-cultural and economic reasons. Encouraging girls to stay in school is a way to ensure a better quality of life and an important factor in preventing HIV/AIDS.
  7. Teenage pregnancy between the ages of 15 and 19 affects 97 out of 1,000 girls in Guyana. The teenage pregnancy rate is the second highest in the Caribbean and South America. Young girls between the ages of 15 and 19 with higher literacy rates have lower adolescent birth rates. Girls who remain in school are less likely to become pregnant.
  8. The Education Sector Plan (ESP) of 2014-208 was created to provide a quality education for all of Guyana’s citizens. Its main objectives were eliminating illiteracy, strengthening tolerance and modernizing education. The ESP has made huge progress in regards to improving access to education at all levels, increasing the proportion of trained teachers and providing more access to interactive technology, computers and upgrading physical facilities in particular.
  9. After ESP 2014-2018, students improved 14 percentage points in English but did not improve in Mathematics. ESP is still trying to tackle this lack of progress. ESP was also able to professionally train 70 percent of teachers. It also provided and implemented numerous support programs, including School Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS, Health and Family Life Education as well as School Welfare Program.
  10. Too often, girls are not able to reveal their full potential in improving Guyana’s economy due to discriminatory social norms, incentives and legal institutions. Girls often tend to be overworked, underpaid and sexual harassed in the workplace. A major issue that hinders girls’ education and work is gender-based violence. The World Bank Report of 2017 revealed that only 53 percent of females aged 15-64 participated in Guyana’s labor force compared to 80 percent of males of the same age. This result is the reason why The National Task Force on Prevention of Sexual Violence was established.

Although most of these 10 facts about girls’ education in Guyana shed light on the need for improvement in education, progress is still being achieved. Plans and actions are being supported by the Guyanese government and numerous organizations that are willing to help. Education for both girls and boys is key to improving Guyana as a whole.

– Jocelyn Aguilar
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Laos
Laos is one of the most poorly developed countries in the world. Decades of colonial rule, economic mismanagement and government instability have created cycles of inter-generational poverty in Laos that currently affect young people in the country. Education attainment in Laos, specifically, lags behind surrounding countries and other developing countries. Additionally, as a relatively patriarchal society, Laos struggles to provide equal opportunities to the girls and boys in the country. In the article below the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Laos are presented

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Laos

  1. The initial rate of enrollment is about equal for both genders. However, the retention and completion rate for both genders is much lower. Girls in smaller villages especially are not expected to finish primary school. In many cases, unsafe conditions for girls and male preference have contributed to a higher dropout rate for girls.
  2. Girls are less likely than boys to attend school and complete their education. Girls lag behind boys in both primary and secondary education. Cultural norms that are inclined to males, poverty, racism and discrimination against ethnic groups and a general lack of attention given to girls’ education all contribute to this disparity.
  3. Girls from minority ethnic groups have the lowest enrollment and completion rates of any other child demographic. Over 50 percent of girls from ethnic communities in Laos do not attend school. Many of these ethnic communities do not speak Lao, the official language of Laos. As a result, children in these communities are unable to receive a proper education as educational materials are only available in Lao. Additionally, girls from smaller ethnic communities have a higher poverty rate and are less likely to have the opportunity to attend school.
  4. The attendance rate for children in urban areas is around 95 percent.  That number drops to 85 percent in rural villages with roads and to 70 percent in rural areas without roads. The gender disparity in school attendance also widens in rural areas as 95 percent of both girls and boys attend primary school in urban areas, whereas only 77 percent of girls versus 83 percent of boys attend school in rural areas without roads.
  5. Child marriages result in many underage girls dropping out of school. Around one-third of Laotian girls are married before the age of 18. These girls are far more likely to become pregnant and begin child rearing at a young age. This hinders their ability to attend school, as many Laotian girls are burdened with the responsibility of caring for children and are not supported by their husbands to attend school.
  6. Organizations such as the Lotus Educational Fund are giving greater opportunities to rural Laotian girls to complete their primary and secondary education. This is done by providing girls with the materials they need to succeed in schools, such as textbooks, writing utensils, backpacks and bicycles to help them travel to school safely. Additionally, the Fund works to improve the health and wellness of the girls, by providing them with eco-friendly health kits and menstrual items. They also are working towards establishing scholarships to send more rural girls to school.
  7. Training for teachers in rural areas improves educational access and quality in Laotian villages. This is especially true when investments are made to support training for young female teachers that focus specifically on improving the education of young girls in villages. Investments in educating female teachers by the Australian government help women in Laos pursue fulfilling careers and serve to improve the learning outcomes of primary school students.
  8. Girls’ education in Laos is improving, albeit rather slowly. The percentage of girls who receive primary education has improved by less than 0.5 percent each year since 2005. To improve this slow growth, programs in Laos are working to address the wide gender gap in education by training female ethnic teachers in villages to provide higher quality education and outreach to a greater number of girls. Although the development is slow, the gender gap in primary school attendance continues to shrink, especially in urban communities, where the attendance rate is nearly equal.
  9. Educational nonprofit organizations are operating within schools in Laos to actively address gender and racial disparity in education. Organizations such as Save the Children, Room to Read and Plan International have launched educational programs in rural Laotian communities to get more children, especially girls, into schools. Save the Children has collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Sports in Laos to enact educational programs in the 10 poorest districts in Laos with a particular emphasis on ethnic minorities and girls.
  10. Pressure from the U.N., international nonprofits and foreign aid providers have encouraged the Laotian government to place more emphasis on education and gender equality. The Basic Education Quality and Access in Laos program, implemented in 2014 in partnership with the Australian government, aims to get more children completing their education in Laos. While Laos still only spends 3.3 percent of its budget on education, the education sector in Laos has shown some growth because of foreign aid assistance.

These facts show that while educational access and completion is far from equal for both genders in Laos, there are numerous programs and investments being implemented to address this imbalance. Hopefully, greater investment in girls’ education on Laos will allow the country to achieve levels of education comparable to other developing nation in the world.

– Tamar Farchy
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education Uganda
Education is crucial in the fight to eventually end world poverty. Around the world, there is a correlation between areas of high poverty rates and the low education rates in those areas. In Uganda specifically, more than 80 percent of children attend primary school. However, these numbers plummet to less than 20 percent when it is time for secondary schooling. It has been proven that when children continue on to secondary school, their earning potential as adults dramatically increases, which holistically affects their community as well as lifts them from poverty. But, it is even simpler than that; 171 million people could escape the grasp of poverty by simply providing basic reading skills to children in low-income countries. Such is the power of education in ending world poverty.

One School at a Time

At an organization based in Colorado, Bay Roberts and Patty Gilbert have been working tirelessly to improve education in Uganda, a country where poverty strikes hardest and education rates appear high, but the quality is severely lacking. The organization is called “One School at a Time,” and its goal is to provide better educational opportunities for impoverished areas in Uganda. They currently partner with five different schools in Uganda, working with more than 2,250 students using their unique model to invite entire communities to come together.

The main areas of focus include: teaching the existing schools to identify their own needs and develop and implement a five-year plan; securing water, sanitation and menstrual pads for older girls; starting community gardens; providing school lunch programs; training teachers in nonviolent communication and helping first-generation girls avoid early marriage and pregnancy. They have been working to end education poverty in Uganda for 13 years.

Bay Roberts of One School at a Time

The Borgen Project interviewed Bay Roberts about the current situation of “One School.” When asked about the importance of education in the fight against world poverty, Roberts said, “Educated students learn to read and write and do basic math, they learn why it’s so important to wash your hands, they learn how to prevent disease and take care of their bodies, they learn how to plan for their futures and hopefully how to problem solve and how to think […] Current data indicates that in Sub-Saharan Africa, every extra year of schooling can equate to a 10 percent increase in wages throughout life.” Education is not just about reading, writing and math. For these children, it is about teaching them the basics of taking care of themselves as human beings. These skills stay with them throughout their whole lives.

Roberts then spoke specifically about the education of young girls, “Girls who do not have the chance to go to school are the ones that are hurt the most. They are sold early into marriage as parents often do not see the value in educating their daughters. These young women never have the chance to meet their potential, work a paying job, have access to their own money, etc.” Not only are young girls less likely to receive an education, but the impact that they have when they do is larger.

Roberts continued, “Girls who go to school are more likely to enter the workforce, earn higher incomes, delay marriage, plan their families and seek an education for their own children […] Women put 90 percent of their earnings into their families, compared to men’s 40 percent […] The World Bank has found that when a country improves education for girls, its overall per-capita income increases. Improvements in girls’ education lead to higher crop yields, lower HIV infection rates and reduced infant mortality.” In fact, a woman’s income has the potential to increase by 20 percent for every year of school she completes.

Building on Uganda’s Existing Education System

With that being said, the main goal of “One School” is not to provide access to education for children in Uganda. In 1997, Uganda implemented Universal Primary Education, presumably providing access for all children to receive primary education. However, due to woeful underfunding, the schools had almost no resources, direction or ability to educate properly. Therefore, the goal of “One School” is to partner with these underfunded schools and help provide them with tools, resources, and techniques to properly educate their students.  

When speaking about this process, Roberts said, “One School at a Time addresses this situation by working with stakeholders of a selected Ugandan government school to create a 5-year strategic plan to improve their school and then providing support to that school to implement their plan. Typically, in the early stages of the partnership, schools focus on infrastructure improvements: clean on-site water at school, latrines, health and sanitation, new classrooms and teachers quarters. Towards the end of the partnership, schools focus on programs to support older girls to stay in school, teacher training, small income-generating projects and farm and school lunch projects. The overall results are that these schools are markedly improved, stakeholders are energized and happy and students are having a vastly improved educational experience.”

As for the future, “One School at a Time” has plans to expand their programs further throughout Uganda, providing even more students with education and the opportunity for a better life. “Our plan is to expand this network to 10 schools and then replicate this process in another Ugandan district.” It is the hope of the organization that this program, with its capacity for growth, can be used throughout the world, giving every child a chance for success and ending world poverty through education.

– Zachary Farrin
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines Located in the southern part of the Carribean, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a small island nation with a small population of approximately 110,000 citizens. This country has a rich history, the nation persevered itself and held off colonialization until 1719, and after this was repeatedly taken over by France and Great Britain alike until it gained its independence in 1979.

Education System in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Due to the colonial history of the nation, the education system differs in pre- and post-colonial rule. While the pre-colonial education system was built around the system of the power, the post-colonial education system is based less on “true” education. Education should be about learning about the world, the nation and everything that encompasses it, for the sake of knowledge. The education system in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is based less on this concept and more on the creation of a sense of pride or for the creation of workers for the international market.

Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines differs greatly from other places around the world. Primary education is free, but as students move on to secondary, post-secondary or tertiary school, they must pay fees. Education is also not compulsory, meaning that children are not required to go to school. This is often used as an indicator of pervasive child labor that exists in St. Vincent, and this may affect girls unevenly and be reflected in their representation in schools.

Girls’ Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

In 2017, 138 girls were not in school, compared to 71 boys. Net enrollment rates for pupils were approximately the same, standing at 93 percent for girls compared to 93.9 percent for boys. However, female completion of primary school was about 6 percent lower in 2017 since around 87 percent of girls completed primary school compared to almost 93 percent of boys that achieved the same feat.

Girls’ education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines also suffers slightly when examining secondary schooling. While the disparities are not as severe, there is still an almost 2 percent difference in the enrollment of boys and girls in lower secondary school. In this level of education, approximately 3,000 female students and 3,600 male students are enrolled. Interestingly, this is not the case in upper secondary schooling, where there are more female pupils than male pupils, approximately 1,900 girls compared to 1,700 boys. This may be due to the fact that male students have a larger dropout rate when in lower secondary school, 9.4 percent compared to 2.6 percent of girls.

Need for Girls’ Education

After secondary school, there is a large gap in girls’ education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in vocational fields, but not, however, in post-secondary (non-tertiary) education. In 2005, there were only 130 female students enrolled in a vocational program, which is almost doubled by the number of male students, 257. In comparison, approximately 1,400 girls were enrolled in post-secondary non-tertiary education, a track that prepares students for tertiary schooling, doubling the approximate 700 boy students enrolled.

It is plain that girls can thrive in educational settings and successfully continue their schooling when given an opportunity. While these gender disparities are not overwhelming, they must be fixed. In order to have the strongest country possible, girls must be able to fully participate in every part of life, and the prioritization of girls’ education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is necessary to do so.

There has been a significant improvement in the educational attainment of girls in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and this is in part due to efforts by the national government in cooperation with UNESCO. There are also various educational suppliers that aim to provide school materials and teaching equipment to teachers and pupils such as Bequia Bookshop, One Percenter, and Nightingale Co, Ltd. Hope is not lost for girls’ education, and although it will require work from all parts of the world, it is already changing and will be improved more comprehensively with the involvement of various organizations and the government.

– Isabella Niemeyer
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