Girls’ Education in Nepal

Important steps are underway towards improving Nepal’s education system for girls, which may help raise Nepal towards becoming a developed nation. Thanks in part to assistance from the United States and United Nations, improving girls’ education in Nepal is now a focus of the Nepali government and educators.

Girls’ Education in Nepal

With only 64 percent of the Nepali people age 15 or older able to read and write, Nepal has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Approximately 76 percent of Nepali men are literate, while only around 53 percent of Nepali women are literate.

While educators are careful to not exclude boys in educational improvements, a special focus on academic improvements for girls is being implemented to increase the relatively low literacy rate among girls and equalize opportunities between boys and girls.

WiSTEM’s Promotion of Equality

Binita Shrestha and Pratiksha Pandey, co-founders of Women in Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (WiSTEM), work with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to improve girls’ education in Nepal.

Shrestha explains, “Even though we target girls, we welcome everyone because even boys are not receiving STEM education… The biggest reason most children don’t pursue a STEM career is because they don’t start learning from an early age. They tend to underestimate themselves afterwards.”

WiSTEM guides children from an early age towards utilizing STEM education opportunities, which build courage and determination to stay in school and work towards a career. Among the opportunities offered through WiSTEM, students can choose workshops and hands-on experience with electronics, coding and design.

Discouraging Absenteeism

While WiSTEM expands opportunities for girls in school and increases their confidence in themselves, one of the main problems regarding girls’ education in Nepal is absenteeism.

A recent study utilizing data from the 2014 Nepal Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) reveals that marriage is the most common reason in Nepal for children quitting school. The study found that dropouts due to marriage range from fifth to tenth grade, and married girls are 10 times more likely to quit school than unmarried girls.

Social norms and security concerns in Nepal commonly prevent married girls from attending school. It is a common view in Nepal that education is unnecessary for girls beyond marriage. Even in areas with free or low-cost school supplies and easily accessible schools, married girls often stay home.

It is also common for husbands and parents-in-law to fear that married girls will be raped or abducted, and thus prevent them from traveling to formal schools.

Zero Tolerance Project

Since Nepali girls’ safety is at greater risk than boys’ of becoming victims of gender-based violence in school, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is working with UNICEF on a project for Nepal called “Zero Tolerance, Gender-based Violence-Free Schools.”

This project focuses on increasing the ability of students and educators to report violence and receive assistance in areas where child marriage and violence against girls are most common.

In addition to spreading awareness of gender-based violence at Nepali schools and encouraging witnesses to report incidences, the Zero Tolerance project links together the communication network within and between schools and community service providers.

This stronger reporting network works as an alarm system to prevent violence at school, which helps girls and their families feel safer about sending them to school. This project is active in 200 schools in the central region of Nepal where child marriage is common.

Creating Opportunities

Both boys and girls need assistance in education, yet girls in Nepal face more risks than Nepali boys regarding school and may need more assistance. Hopefully, with continued support from the U.S. and U.N., Nepali government and educators will continue to focus on improving education, with extra effort for ensuring safety and equal opportunities for girls.

Overall, the more literate the men and women of Nepal become, the more Nepal changes towards becoming a developed country. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), while linking literacy rates definitively to other variables is difficult, studies show it is likely that improving literacy rates increases health, income, political participation, democratic ideals, economic growth and confidence in asserting human rights.

– Emme Leigh

Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Niger
As the least educated country in the world, Niger faces severe issues with its current stability and long-term prosperity as a nation. Even more concerning is the educational disparity that exists between the male and female population. While female primary school participation rests at just over 50 percent, the literacy rate for women between the ages of 15 and 25 is less than 25 percent.

Gender Inequality

A potential reason for this gap in early enrollment and more comprehensive literacy could be the average length of schooling for a Nigerian citizen, which sits at a troubling 1.5 years.

As UNICEF reports, “in Niger, only one in two girls goes to primary school, one in ten to secondary school and one in fifty to high school.” Without a lasting commitment to education, early schooling is worthless as many will choose to exit the system before they can learn the necessary educational lessons for an effective and prosperous career.

Girls’ Education in Niger

Girls’ education in Niger has an overall void in educational emphasis. If schooling for males is lacking in a country that experiences gender inequality, as is true in Niger, then there is little hope that female education will be any better. Even when schooling is available, family dynamics and responsibility can serve as barriers for young women being able to attend class.

As a whole, males tend to have greater opportunities to pursue education as many household chores and family finances fall on the girls. Ten-year-old Choukouria from Niger explains, “my mother has six children: three boys and three girls. My brothers are allowed to go to school, but I am not allowed because I need to take care of the daily chores, take care of my little sisters and also contribute to my family’s expenses.”

Stories like this are commonplace for young females which makes girls’ education in Niger a constant struggle.

Child-Rearing and Educational Access

Another obstacle facing improvement in girls’ education in Niger is exceptionally high birth rates across the country. On average, women in Niger have 7.6 children over the course of their lives, with most births happening at a young age.

Teenage motherhood not only places social, financial and physical stress on women, but it also reduces any chance they have of receiving an education. In addition, as citizens of one of the poorest nations on earth, women in Niger do not have the extra capital necessary for child services even if they did want to pursue educational opportunities.

As a whole, girls’ education in Niger is severely lacking. Both poverty and a combination of young motherhood and high birth rates affect female access to educational resources and opportunities. An overall lack of commitment to education in Niger affects both males and females, but it appears that women have very little power in their own schooling experience.

It is young girls who are tasked with family responsibility and finances, which leaves them with very little chance in continuing their education later on.

Projects for Improvement

Among these many adversities, there is still potential in creating a new atmosphere surrounding education throughout Sierra Leone, especially for girls and young women. USAID is currently working to promote a larger reading culture in the country by involving the community in education and its functioning.

In addition, UNESCO also commits itself to transforming education in Niger through their project titled “Tackling Gender Inequalities in Niger’s Educational System.”

This project seeks to make learning environments more “girl-friendly” and aims at implementing more female role models for young girls in the school system through awareness campaigns and critical analysis of current educational conditions.

The Long Game

While these projects do exist, their recent implementation means that apparent success will take time to develop. International aid and redevelopment plans, which include education as primary aspects, are also beginning to enter Niger but have not yet taken a firm hold.

As can be seen via U.N. statistics, Niger sits at the bottom of economic and educational rankings for a reason. The nation is in an era of hardship and it will require greater help from international groups and foreign countries to remove itself from future difficulties or disasters.

– Ryan Montbleau
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Girls' Education in Argentina
To educate a woman is to give her the tools to create a brighter future for herself and her family. Argentina is a nation known to be improving its gender equality; in fact, women currently fight for equal education and job opportunities to men. However, girls education in Argentina is an ongoing process, and women are still placed second to men in many situations. Here are the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Argentina.

Top 10 Facts About Girls Education in Argentina

  1. Early marriage and household tasks are seen as common female roles in South America. Many girls stay at home and attend to the “domestic” jobs — around 10 percent of girls between the age of 15-24 are in charge of the home. However, it’s usually these young girls in the poorest sectors of Argentina who need education the most, but struggle to get it.
  2.  Young girls who live at home often receive little cash assistance and don’t have educational deficits. According to a report by the Observatory of Social Debt in Argentina, “19.1 percent have limitations to receiving education and 16.8 percent don’t even go to school.” These young girls who don’t go to school find themselves stuck in the cycle of poverty. As they get older, they frequently can’t find a job because of their lack of an educational background or previous job experience.
  3. Early childbearing is an issue that causes young girls not to attend school. This is somewhat ironic, as girls who attend school are taught about sexual education and methods of prevention; as a result, early pregnancies are less likely to occur. Most often, those in ongoing poverty find themselves in these situations of early motherhood due to the lack of knowledge about pregnancy.
  4. The prehistoric idea that men are more dominant than women prevails in the Argentine culture. There have been cases where a woman is discriminated against or even abused if she tries to defend her education. The Argentinian workforce still does not equally value men and women workers.
  5. Women are seen often in the informal sphere — an area of the economy that is untaxed, unregulated and usually provides low-paying work. Although women might find jobs, they usually find themselves in these kinds of precarious workplaces.
  6. Argentina had their first female president, Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner, from 2007 to 2015. She was seen as a female role model who empowered young girls and women to strive for higher-up positions and value getting an education.
  7. One of the Millennial Goals in Argentina is to promote gender equality and empower women. When looking at this with regard to jobs, the goal strives to remove the “glass ceilings” that prevent women from being promoted to higher and better-paid positions, especially if women have the same education level as the men applying for the same job.
  8. In March 2015, Michelle Obama created the Let Girls Learn initiative. This program brings together the Department of State, USAID, the Peace Corps, the U.S. Department of Labor, MCC and the U.S. president’s emergency fund for AIDS, and is a government-wide effort to help adolescent girls complete their education. A key part of the effort is to encourage and support community-led solutions and reduce any potential barriers that would prevent a young girl from getting an education. Since then, the group has worked with organizations like the World Bank, a global organization that in 2016 agreed to invest $2.5 billion over the next five years in education programs that directly benefit young girls.
  9. Another event in 2015 was the movement “Ni Una Menos” or “Not One Less.” Social media made headlines when thousands of cities around the countries protested against the unfair treatment of women. The Not One Less group protested against the violence of women in Argentina in the workplace.
  10. Women are now often getting equal or more education than men. When viewing the national statistics and census of Argentina, the INDEC mentions that the “society must have an equal distribution of educational opportunities among both genders on all levels.” In fact, according to statistics from UNICEF, women are seen attending school 2-3 percent more than men for all types of education. As a result, women should be given the same job opportunities if they’re working as hard or even harder than their male counterparts.

Acquiring a Female Future, One Woman At a Time

A lack of education is one of the core factors related to poverty — girls who are educated find themselves in better living situations. Although these were the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Argentina, there are plenty of other points of note where the women are restricted and want to strive for a better future. As Argentinian women continue to fight for a change, the future will hopefully become better for the younger generation.

– Negin Nia

Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Chad
Girls in Chad have more of a challenge receiving an education than boys do. This is a common issue in impoverished countries and the reasons are different and specific to each country. The girls in Chad are forced into child marriage and expected to do household chores at a young age. This results in girls having to drop out of school early to fulfill their role in the society. Girls’ education in Chad has seen some improvement given the limited resources they have to increase the quality of education.

Reasons Why Girls in Chad Receive Less Education

One of the main reasons why girls in Chad do not receive an equal education is that they are expected to fulfill gender roles. In Chad, as mentioned earlier, forced child marriages are a major reason for girls dropping out of school, leaving them with barely any education. Radia, a female high school student from a refugee site in Chad, has the following to say, “When they get married, these young girls usually have to leave their family, their friends, and their community and move to their husband’s house. Their studies are interrupted, removing another source of social support and education.” Clearly, these young girls are not ready for marriage or motherhood.

Girls’ education in Chad is not as important as their responsibilities at home such as ensuring there is enough water, food and that the family’s needs are met. These girls are not fully educated, yet they are forced to take care of others rather than prioritize what is right for them. On the other hand, boys are not expected to shoulder the same responsibilities.

Using Resources Wisely to Help Girls’ Education in Chad

The value of education may be less in Chad. However, there are ways of changing that by using resources the right way. People, especially children, living in global poverty often do not receive a proper education because resources are not used efficiently. For example, the number of dropouts reached 19 percent in Chad. Also, community teachers have been used as primary teachers in Chad.

This situation can be improved by employing teachers that are qualified to teach different subjects and are paid well. Chad currently does not have enough teachers to accommodate regular-size classes.

The Progression of Girls’ Education in Chad

Girls’ education in Chad shows signs of progressing. There has been an education plan called PIET which the government of Chad has started. This education plan is effective from 2018 to 2020 and consists of three different priorities which are as follows: continue to provide quality primary education, improve the relevance of education at every level as well as improve the management and coordination of the education sector in Chad.

Impoverished countries often do not offer the best education due to fewer resources. Girls do not receive as much education as boys in Chad because they are expected to get married and take over household responsibilities at a very young age. However, with the help of foreign aid, these impoverished countries might be able to provide equal educational opportunities to girls.

– Kelly Kipfer
Photo: Google

Girls' Education in CameroonQuality education is the cornerstone of a prosperous nation. But in Cameroon — an ethnically diverse country in south-central Africa — only 53 percent of children attend secondary school. Also, the state of girls’ education in Cameroon is troubling since they do not have access to quality education and many of them are not even enrolled in schools. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 70 percent of Cameroonian girls are illiterate.

Facts about Girls’ Education in Cameroon

A variety of factors influence the lack of education among girls in Cameroon. Traditional values stifle chances of prolonged schooling or any schooling for girls. Poverty often forces women to leave school and to work and earn an income for their families. In addition, high rates of youth pregnancy and child marriage impede continued education for many girls. Although Cameroon ratified the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which sets the minimum age of marriage at the start of adulthood, yhe legal age of marriage in the country is still 15 with parental permission. In 2014, the UNICEF found that over 31 percent of teenage girls in Cameroon were married before age 18.

Patriarchal norms drive down girls’ education in Cameroon as well. Patience Fielding from the University of California, Berkeley found that women’s educational pursuits are further restricted in higher educational institutions as well, especially in the fields of math, science and technology. Even as girls struggle to enroll in schools, obstacles meet them in the classroom. Girls face a disproportionate amount of discrimination, sexual harassment and violence.

What’s Happening

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

International organizations are supporting Cameroonian girls and increasing female enrollment in schools. UNICEF works to advocate early childhood education as well as supply resources and classroom materials to students and teachers.

Cameroonian women are also spearheading efforts to make social change and promote girls’ education in Cameroon. In a 2016 Times article, Leila Kigha talks about her grandmother’s efforts to inspire other Cameroonian women and the ripple effect a single woman’s hope for the future can have on others. She refused to accept the status quo and sent her children to school against all odds. Her descendants went on to establish the Shine A Light Africa initiative — a nonprofit that works to allow women to sell farm products in groups.

This work has been monumental in ensuring that change happens. Research shows the positive externalities resulting from girls having access to better and continued education consequently leading to a higher standard of living. In addition, improving girls’ education can reduce maternal death and infant mortality rates substantially.

Conclusion

The Republic of Cameroon’s constitution outlines that the State shall guarantee a child’s right to education. However, equal and prolonged access to education is often not a reality for Cameroonian girls. Thus, it requires international attention from political leaders and focused agendas to help reduce the gender gap in education to greatly influence individual lives in such nations.

– Isabel Bysiewicz
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Palau

Palau, a democratic island nation located southeast of the Philippine Islands, has made significant strides and commitments to reducing gender inequality over the past two decades. The most significant improvements have been in girls’ education in Palau

Palau has a population of about 22,000 citizensIn the past, Palau maintained specific gender responsibilities on the island, typically relating to the division of labor and education. Now, gender plays an insignificant role in jobs, with the exception of politics. Despite the island’s ongoing tradition of a matriarchy, women seldom hold national political offices. Governmental commitments to education, however, are increasing. 

Girls’ Education in Palau

For a period of time, the percentage of females attending all levels of schooling was higher than their male counterparts. However, since 2012, the percentage of female enrollment in school has been steadily decreasing. Female education statistics are lower than males’, showing female education needs improvement. However, the Palauan government has been proactive in addressing the issues within girls’ education in Palau.

Palau has begun to confront this issue of girls’ education in Palau with programs sponsored by The World Bank, including the Access and Quality in Higher Education Project and Excellerating Higher Education Expansion and Development Operation Project. These projects aim to improve educational learning and access to education.

Measuring Up to Other Countries

The education system of Palau is comparable to the education system of St. Lucia, a developing nation. Both Palau and St. Lucia are island nations struggling with diversity due to the limited resources available in the respective countries. Lack of diverse educational resources has hampered educational progress. It has also been a cause for greater initiatives to further and enhance progress. Like St. Lucia, Palau has a history of gender gaps in education; however, unlike St. Lucia, Palau is working to bridge the current disparities.

Using the U.S. as a Model

Palau’s government and culture have increasingly imitated the trends of the U.S. While this has been key in the structuring of Palau’s government, it has also been used in education. In 1927, when Palau was under Japanese control, a trade school was founded. However, in 1969, just over twenty years after the U.S. took control of Palau, the trade school morphed into the first and only community college on the island. This transition imitates the U.S. dedication to learning and higher education. 

The goals for girls’ education in Palau are reachable and realistic because they are intended to improve the quality of education and post-educational hopes for all citizens, regardless of gender. The vision statement from the Palauan Ministry of Education sums this point up, saying, “Our students will be successful in the Palauan society and the world.”

– Alexandra Ferrigno
Photo: Google

Girls' Education in Tunisia
Illiteracy rates and education levels for females in many Arab or Islamic nations are among the lowest in the world. This occurrence is often due to active suppression by theocracies, but 
Tunisia is an oddball in the case of Arab/Islamic countries in terms of the level of girls education. 

Girls’ Education in Tunisia

Tunisia has one of the highest female literacy rates amongst predominantly Islamic countries. In fact, 96.1 percent of females in Tunisia are literate — a statistic unheard of in multiple regions of the world. Girls’ education in Tunisia reflects the openness of the nation as opposed to its regional counterparts, and females within this nation actually rank higher than males. For example, females have a higher school participation rate than males, and girls actually last longer (meaning they drop out less) in primary school than males. Such dedication to academics is promising to not only these girls’ personal well-being, but also to their work and home successes.

These examples of gender equality and female success are rare in Arab and Islamic regions, as much of theocratic culture tends to prefer and adhere to a male-dominated society. In Tunisia, males may have higher enrollment rates than females, but females are either equal or dominant to males in terms of academic performance in school — except for literacy. Even in this respect, there is only a 2 percent difference between the genders, which is again unprecedented in predominantly Islamic countries. 

The Long Game

The high level of female education in Tunisia did not happen overnight. Prior to the 2011 overthrow of the Ben Ali regime, these trends of increases in female education were apparent because the Tunisian government actively took steps to decrease gender inequality to improve their overarching socioeconomic development.

Tunisian women have a higher level of rights than their regional neighbors. Article 21 of the 2014 Tunisian constitution stipulates that: “Male and female citizens are equal in rights and duties. They are equal before the law without any discrimination.” This aspect of gender equality should act as an example for numerous countries across the globe, in both the developed and developing worlds.

Steps for Improvement

This is not to say that Tunisia is a reservoir of egalitarianism. Abuse against women is disturbingly high — 70 percent of women are the victims of abuse in Tunisia. However, much has been done in recent years to attempt to mitigate such occurrences, including a law passed by the Tunisian parliament specifically aimed at reducing levels of abuse against women.

Tunisia is very liberal in terms of girls education, though, and continually makes strides in improving other human rights offenses against girls. Tunisia is learning that educating and empowering females brings a nation numerous benefits and resources otherwise unattainable.

From decreasing poverty, improving the economy and developing a more harmonious society, Tunisia’s prioritization of female education is admirable and bound for success. Tunisia’s future looks much more liberal and altruistic than many of its regional counterparts, and only time will tell if this optimistic hope proves out for the country. 

– Daniel Lehewych
Photo: Google

Rwanda education
In Rwanda, culture plays an important role when it comes to education, as girls are often raised to be submissive at home and taught to not speak up like boys do.

Girls are “supposed to” focus on their household first and foremost and put education second. Justine Uvuza, a former advocate for women’s rights, reported a housewife’s words about gender roles: Her husband expected her to make sure that his shoes were polished, the water was put in the bathroom for him, his clothes were ironed.”

Girls might need to break some barriers when choosing a career. Rwanda’s culture is male-oriented, so girls who choose a career path that is more common among men may experience sexual harassment in the workplace.

Girls Hygiene and School Attendance

Having a period while attending school is a normal part of western girls’ lives, but this experience might give Rwandan students a more uncomfortable outcome. A restroom with running water is still considered a luxury in some rural areas, which makes it difficult for girls to clean themselves while in school.

Staggering statistics are part of the facts about girls’ education in Rwanda: 10 percent of girls between 10-14 years old have access to menstrual pads in Rwanda. Male teachers also need to be more aware of their needs, as girls are not allowed to leave classrooms to use the restroom.

One student stated: “When I was on my period I would leave school and stay at home, sometimes for up to a week. I didn’t feel clean and didn’t want to use the bad toilets that we shared with boys. Because I was missing one week of school every month, I found it hard to keep up with my studies.”

Unwanted Pregnancy and School Dropouts

In 2016, 17,000 teens got pregnant in Rwanda. Girls don’t get the proper sexual education information from their parents and are often forced to drop out of school to take care of their children.

Puberty is still an uncomfortable subject for some parents, as one mother relates: “I have two sons and a daughter who are in secondary school. They often ask tough questions and I feel ashamed, or fail to answer. For example, one day my daughter asked me what follows after a girl develops breasts.”

If there were more straightforward parent-child conversation, many teenage pregnancies could be prevented from happening and help keep Rwanda’s teens on a stable academic path.

Farming Activities and Education Access

Most families in Rwanda plant what they consume; however, they often lack resources such as potable water, and some women in Africa even have to walk for six miles every day to get it. The lack of clean water causes parasite-inflicted diseases, which often keeps children from primary education.

Children are oftentimes unable to attend schools because they have to provide housework help for their families. In fact, some students have to walk three miles every day before school so as to take potable water to their families.

The Good News

There are still student success stories despite the challenges they face. The Akilah Institute for women gives girls a positive platform to voice their opinions. The group created a female debate team — the first in the country — as a way to become more confident about their role in a male-dominated society.

The team also discussed the topic of “Western feminism,” a concept still fairly new in Rwanda, in the process of taking the debate trophy home. In addition to such success, UNICEF started a program called Child Friendly Schools in 2001 which provides schools with improved infrastructure to deal with girls’ hygiene concerns.

One school located in the Bugesera district has now separated restrooms, provides sanitary towels for girls and has water and soap available for personal hygiene and clothes washing. The dropout numbers decreased after these ‘simple’ measures, and girls now feel less embarrassed about their periods while attending school.     

Girls’ Education in Rwanda

The Young Women’s Christian Association educates youth about preventing teen pregnancies. The GrowupSmart program teaches teens how to understand body changes during puberty. The program has taught more than a 1,000 girls about reproductive health, and it has also reached out to parents, turning parent-child sex discussions a common practice.

Measures like these have prevented many school dropouts. World Vision, the Christian organization, has also helped more than 340,000 people with sanitation and clean water in only five years. They also teach the people in rural areas how to dig wells.

These problems related to girls’ education in Rwanda have solutions — the help of partnerships between the government, relief agencies and nonprofit organizations. A pessimistic scenario can be used as a driver to action, and such motivation paired with humanitarian aid can produce doable results.

– Nijessia Cerqueira
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Girls' Education in Sudan
Facts about girls’ education in Sudan are startling as females are at a clear disadvantage. Girls in Sudan are more likely to be illiterate than their regional counterparts, which is concerning as the region around the nation is plagued with female educational suppression.

Facts About Girls’ Education in Sudan

  1. According to UNICEF, 49 percent of girls are missing out on primary education. As of 2017, a total of three million children have been left out of Sudan’s education system, half of them being girls.
  2. In general, Sudan has unegalitarian views towards women. Sudan’s legal system is a strict form of Sharia Law, which limits the rights of women in many respects. The nature of such laws has seeped into Sudanese culture, thus affecting the quality and quantity of girls education for the worse. These laws include punishment for not wearing religious garb in public and institutionalized discrimination against women. When the mantra of the government and its laws is anti-women, the educational system will most likely be anti-women as well.
  3. The laws in Sudan regarding education do not guarantee safety against discrimination. Educators can then easily implement their views on who they allow to enroll in schools. Such views are the norm in Sudan, as is the opinion that women should aspire to be a housewife for their ultimate goal. Sudanese culture follows a strict interpretation of Islam and is often a culture that allows female genital mutilation, honor killings and other violations against women. Such an environment would be hard pressed not to extend such discrimination to education.
  4. In Sudan, the enrollment rate for girls in primary school is lower than that of boys, and there is also a significant gap in literacy between boys and girls.
  5. The quality of  teachers is very low in Sudan in comparison to the rest of the world; there may be up to 110,000 unqualified teachers teaching in Sudan, as 48 percent of teachers in Sudan have only completed primary education. On average, children in Sudan experience either no education (as Sudan has one of the highest out-of-school-children rates in the world) or very poor education from unqualified teachers.
  6. A severe lack of female teachers in Sudanese schools often creates a learning environment much more hostile to girls, which can then deter girls enrolling in school. Only 12 percent of South Sudan’s instructors are female, and the data of female education rates across generations show less improvement over time.
  7. The average household in Sudan contains 5.7 people; contrastingly, an United States household holds an average of 2.58 people. The cost of education in Sudan is not direct tuition, but rather similar to western universities and religious schools charge aside from tuition: textbooks, uniforms, exam fees, and even teacher salaries. This is very costly for many families, especially as poverty is extremely high in Sudan — 44.8  percent of the population live below the poverty line, and there is a 17 percent unemployment rate.
  8. The large number of families who struggle with such costs generally have two options: (1) do not send their children to school (which is a partial explanation for why the educational enrollment rate in Sudan is very low) or (2) choose their favorite children to attend school. For the latter option, these favorites are almost unanimously boys which hurts girls educational opportunities.
  9. Given the fact that normal schooling in Sudan is explicitly anti-women, it’s very hard for girls in Sudan to receive an education, and the shortage of out-of-school alternatives really leaves Sudan’s girls in a difficult place.
  10. Fortunately, Sudan is not alone. The Global Partnership for Education Fund heavily funds the Sudanese government so as “to improve the learning environment in targeted areas; to increase the availability of textbooks; and to strengthen education planning and management mechanisms in the Sudan.” In fact, $76 million has gone into a project known as the Basic Education Recovery Project which significantly helps girls education in Sudan.

Steps to Empowerment

These facts about girls’ education in Sudan leave the international community with a daunting task — making change a reality in Sudan. Thankfully, such outcomes are occurring, but help is always needed and desired. Donating to organizations such as The Borgen Project that work to provide international aid is one of the best ways to help make change a reality.

– Daniel Lehewych
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education In Dominica

In the Eastern Caribbean, the Commonwealth of Dominica is a small island country along the Lesser Antilles. Originally inhabited by the Kalinga, and then colonized by Europeans, the country of almost 70 thousand gained national independence in 1978. As a middle-income developing country, Dominica has taken great strides toward promoting girls’ education and the prosperity of all its citizens. Fundamental to the government’s stance that education is essential to securing political, social and economic prosperity, the conviction prevails that all citizens regardless of ethnicity, gender or class have a right to an education.

Investing in girls’ education in Dominica is one of the best investments the country can make. Educated girls are healthier, participate more in the formal labor market with higher wages, have fewer children and provide a better life for future generations of the community as a whole. Traditionally, girls faced multiple disadvantages including extreme poverty, underserved locality and belonging to a minority ethnic group, which made completing their education even more of a challenge. Since the opening of new roadways and full access to a free public education for all its citizens, replacing a historically exclusive religious system of education, girls’ education in Dominica has flourished.

Educational Opportunities

Girls’ education in Dominica is a success story among the broader educational initiatives enacted in the country. Girls face no barrier to educational opportunities in matters of gender discrimination. All children between the ages of five and sixteen are required to attend school according to The Education Act of 1997. The government provides both primary and secondary education in Dominica with minimal charges for students and their families. This includes free textbooks and special assistance for poor students as well as grant money available for those seeking tertiary programs.

As a result, net primary enrollment in 2011/20112 was at 100 percent of the youth population. In fact, inclusion efforts in schooling have been so successful, girls have often had higher enrollment rates than boys in the past. In primary school education, during the school years 2006/07–2008/09, statistics show approximately 52 percent of students enrolled in school were girls. Additionally, girls show they often do better in primary school, repeating levels half as frequently as boys, and are least likely to drop out of school. This trend continued in secondary school where, in 2007, there was a female-to-male ratio of 1.06:1 in attendance.

Gender Gap in Education

According to the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), females outperform males in secondary schooling. They often outperform in English and Social Studies as well as traditionally male-dominated subjects like Mathematics and Science. While gender segregation as a result of cultural convictions still influences the educational path of females, girls today are more likely than ever to enter traditionally male-dominated fields like agriculture and technology in Dominica.

However, pregnancy remains a contentious issue. While dropouts in secondary school due to pregnancy have declined to the lowest rate in Dominica’s history, social stigma has historically strained the Education Act of 1997, which allows girls to return to school after pregnancies. The fate of girls returning from pregnancies often remains in the hands of the religious and personal beliefs of school administrations, sometimes encouraging unnecessary dropouts, while males involved in these pregnancies continue their education regardless. Although females continue to prevail in university settings, the higher they advance in their education, the smaller the ratio of female to male enrollment becomes. This is likely due to childbearing/family responsibilities and inadequate child care facilities to assist in their higher educational pursuits.

In the 1980’s, there were no laws in Dominica requiring children to attend school. Since taking initiatives like The Education Act, education has been a successful path for girls to advance themselves socially and economically. With an economy predominantly in agriculture and marked by men, by investing in girls’ education, Dominica not only combats social stigmas limiting their lifelong opportunities but also opens up new doors in the service sector for the country as a whole.

– Joseph Ventura
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