Equity Index in Nepal Equitable access to school increased significantly in Nepal between 2006 and 2016. The gender gap in school enrollments reduced by 2.8% during this 10-year period. However, the government noticed that other disparities limited access to quality education for children.

The government created the Consolidated Equity Strategy for the School Education Sector in 2014 to strengthen equity in education, primarily through measuring existing disparities and taking action to address them. Nepal’s Equity Index was launched in 2017 to operationalize the equity strategy and target the most disadvantaged school districts.

An Innovative Financing Tool for the Education Sector

The Ministry of Education developed the Equity Index with support from UNICEF and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), World Bank. It is an innovative tool that enables the Ministry to rank the prevalence of disparities in educational outcomes, access and participation in schools and allocate resources to schools based on data that calls out specific needs. It exists within the Education Management Information System (EMIS) in the Department of Education.

The Equity Index uses data on gender, geography, socio-economic status, ethnicity and caste, and disability to create an “equity score” for each district. The planners and policy-makers rank districts according to their respective index scores. The data and the index are shared at all levels in the education sector to ensure the inclusion of district-specific disparities. This data sharing helps the government allocate resources as part of budget planning activity and considers the outcomes for further planning.

Indicators of Education Outcomes

A few critical components or indicators were needed to measure the efficacy of the Equity Index in Nepal. These include the percentage of children not enrolled in schools, survival rates (children repeating levels and/or dropping out), learning outcomes and levels of education: Basic (Grades 1-8) and Secondary (Grades 9-12).

Nepal’s Equity Index Piloted in 2017

Nepal’s basic education sector encompasses over 30,000 schools and approximately 8 million students between Grades 1 and 10. In 2017, more than 700,000 children of school age were not in primary or secondary school across the country.

Schools are allocated a budget annually based on the number of students enrolled. However, the needs of these schools could be different. For example, a school that needs some sort of food scheme for students may be in a community that cannot afford school supplies. In such cases, the Equity Index could aid in helping decision-makers allocate the extra funds needed to procure school supplies.

Using the Equity Index, the government identified five districts as part of the initial scope for targeted interventions in 2017. The interventions are usually proposed by the district stakeholders (which could include parents and guardians), including communication campaigns and community mobilization for children who are out of school. The Equity Index observed that out of 109,500 children who were out of school in these five districts, approximately 22% enrolled due to these interventions.

Reaching the Disadvantaged Made Feasible

Nepal’s Equity Index resulted in remarkable progress, increasing coverage from 6% (5 out of 75 districts chosen in 2017) to 20% by 2019, enabling the government to allocate additional budget for targeted interventions in these districts.

In 2019, the U.N. verified that there was more than a 50% reduction in out-of-school children in these targeted districts.

Understanding the nature of barriers to access and learning is critical to ensuring inclusion and equity in the education sector. The Equity Index in Nepal enables its government to compare severities in disparities across districts and take the necessary actions to guarantee targeted interventions where they are most needed.

– Sudha Krishnaswami
Photo: Flickr

Global IlliteracyThe impact of technology in the fight against global poverty is a subject of both positive and negative consequences. Nevertheless, numerous groups are harnessing the power of technology to drive progress toward the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. A prominent illustration is the utilization of smartphones to address global illiteracy. Curious Learning, an organization committed to promoting literacy through smartphones, is making noteworthy advancements in alleviating poverty for future generations.

The Importance of Literacy in Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Literacy serves as a crucial foundation for every aspect of a child’s life. As defined by UNESCO, literacy encompasses the ability to read, write, and interpret information, enabling children to understand the world around them and become educated individuals. Despite the progress so far, the World Literacy Foundation reports that there are still 750 million illiterate adults worldwide.

The link between global illiteracy and poverty operates in two directions. Poverty hampers children’s access to education and the resources needed to develop reading and writing skills. Challenges such as unaffordable school fees, early labor requirements or living in remote areas far from educational institutions hinder opportunities, particularly for children in rural areas of developing countries, leading to high rates of school absenteeism.

Conversely, the lack of literacy limits economic opportunities and perpetuates the cycle of poverty. UNESCO emphasizes that if all adults completed secondary education, 420 million individuals could escape poverty. Access to education equips individuals with literacy skills that open doors to better employment prospects and higher earnings. According to Curious Learning, each new level of literacy is associated with a 9.7% increase in earnings. The interplay between literacy and poverty creates a vicious cycle that persists across generations unless effectively addressed.

Curious Learning’s Fight Against Global Illiteracy

Curious Learning is at the forefront of efforts against poverty by tackling the issue of global illiteracy. The organization’s mission is to provide children worldwide with the necessary access to learn how to read. What sets Curious Learning apart is its unique approach. The organization localizes free reading apps in 69 languages and distributes them in countries like Nepal, India and Kenya. With more than 75 dedicated apps aimed at developing reading skills and reducing global illiteracy in children, Curious Learning has achieved global outreach.

As of 2021, Curious Learning has extended its reach to every country across the globe, with a specific focus on developing nations. South Asia, West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are regions characterized by alarmingly high illiteracy rates. Therefore, Curious Learning’s interventions are strategically concentrated in countries within these areas of greatest need. For instance, its work began with interventions in Ethiopia in 2011, followed by a World Bank study on literacy apps in Northern Nigeria in 2022. Both countries face significant illiteracy challenges, with rates of 50.9% and 40.4%, respectively, placing them among the top 20 countries with the highest illiteracy rates globally.

In line with technological advancements, digital literacy has been incorporated into the definition of literacy by UNESCO and other organizations. By introducing underserved children to reading through digital apps, Curious Learning addresses both reading skills and technological proficiency simultaneously, equipping children for success in the digital age.

The Apps

All of the apps that Curious Learning localizes and distributes are free to use, and this ensures accessibility. Here are a few of the organization’s apps that are making learning to read fun and engaging:

  • Feed The Monster: This game helps children learn letter names and sounds while collecting cute monsters as pets. It is available in over 50 languages, including Arabic, Ukrainian and Oluganda. The game is distributed in more than 50 languages including Arabic, Ukrainian and Oluganda.
  • Read With Akili- What Do You Like To Do?: Based on the children’s cartoon by the name of “Akili and Me”, this app is a learning program made for children in Africa. Children follow Akili, a 4-year-old from Tanzania and learn to read with three different levels of interactive content.
  • Chimple: Chimple encourages “self-directed early learning”.  The app is designed to take children from zero to basic literacy and numeracy.

The Impact

Curious Learning’s efforts proved successful in fighting illiteracy in developing countries. In a study done in collaboration with The World Bank and Middlesex University, published on August 3, 2022, Curious Learning tested the effectiveness of its apps in Northern Nigeria. Of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria has the most children unenrolled in schools at 10.5 million.

Households received a smartphone complete with the reading apps, Feed the Monster and the Global Digital Library and the researchers followed one child, ages 6 to 9 years old, from each family. The researchers implemented the apps along with aspirational videos as interventions for these children. Results of the interventions showed that children who received the interventions scored 42.5% fewer zeros on letter recognition.

The apps improved children’s literacy skills by 0.46 standard deviations and numeracy skills by 0.63 standard deviations. The intervention accomplished similar outcomes in twelve months as outcomes that took a whole five years of instruction in schools.

Curious Learning is committed to providing accessible and effective interventions to combat global illiteracy. Based on the organization’s statement on 2023 plans and goals, it plans to launch a global literacy league of people in various countries working to distribute literacy apps. It also aims to expand the scale of its programs in 30 countries with the highest numbers of illiteracy.

Smartphones and apps, like those developed by Curious Learning, have become powerful tools for breaking the cycle of global illiteracy and poverty. By providing accessible and engaging interventions, Curious Learning is making a significant impact on the lives of underserved children worldwide.

– Yesenia Aguilera
Photo: Unsplash

Global Citizen FellowshipThe Global Citizen Fellowship is dedicated to creating solutions that will help alleviate global poverty. The program is based in Nigeria and South Africa. It focuses on encouraging members of the younger generation to join the fight in ending extreme poverty. Some members of the Global Citizen Fellowship have gone far and beyond to help achieve this goal. The program’s #MoveTheWorld Mondays social media movement inspires more people to get involved in ending extreme poverty.

What to Know About The Global Citizen Fellowship

The Global Citizen Fellowship began in 2018 and is open to citizens ages 21 through 25 who reside in Nigeria and South Africa. The inspiration behind creating the program was based on young citizens of Africa suffering from barriers such as unemployment. As a part of the BeyGOOD Initiative, the Global Citizen Fellowship prioritizes a focus on extreme poverty. The purpose of the Global Citizen Fellowship is to provide experiences that will help young people fight to end extreme poverty. One of the components of the Global Citizen Fellowship includes skills development. The 2021 program began in July and will continue through the year.

Global Citizen Fellowship’s Advisory Council

Some of the young people involved in this year’s program are currently members of the advisory council. Bonang Matheba founded the Bonang Matheba Bursary Fund, which advocates for issues such as providing free sanitary products. Aisha Yesufu is involved in the Bring Back Our Girls Movement and has held an entrepreneurial role for more than two decades. Charmaine Houvet is Cisco Africa’s public policy director and works with projects like the Global Broadband Plan for Refugees Project. Hamzat Lawal dedicates efforts to supporting the younger generation and is the leader of Connected Development. Nozipho Tshabalala is a phenomenal leader in the broadcasting field and works with Global Citizen, Learn Reflect Mobilise Grow and the World Bank. Tumi Sole is a corporate attorney fighting for social justice with his organization #CountryDuty.

One Way to Support Global Citizen

One trend created by Global Citizen Live will be beneficial to supporting the fight to end extreme poverty. Global Citizen recently created #MoveTheWorld Mondays to post on social media platforms. The purpose of #MoveTheWorld Mondays is to share one action weekly on Global Citizen’s accounts that can help end extreme poverty. People will have the opportunity to participate in the cause by taking actions shared in each post. One of the benefits of participating in #MoveTheWorld Mondays includes being able to attend events.

The Global Citizen Fellowship, a program created in 2018, encourages young people to join the fight to end extreme poverty. Many Africans, especially the younger generation, suffer from unemployment and other barriers. Therefore, it is important for people to contribute to fighting extreme poverty. Members of the Global Citizen Fellowship’s advisory council express their passion for helping their communities through their occupations. Global Citizen’s #MoveTheWorld Mondays can inspire more people to participate in ending extreme poverty.

– Chloe Moody
Photo: Flickr

Pratham USA in IndiaIndia is a country in Southern Asia that has struggled with education. In India, millions of children are at risk of illiteracy. In fact, 29% of students drop out of school before finishing elementary education. Those in poverty are less likely to receive a quality education, especially in a society like India where caste systems are still present. Impoverished children are also more likely to marry young and enter the workforce instead of completing school. Their poverty causes them to miss out on a quality education necessary to succeed in future careers. Without training or education, people are more likely to work low-paying jobs, creating a cycle of poverty for generations to come. Pratham USA in India is an organization that is committed to increasing education in India.

Pratham USA

Pratham USA is an organization that provides education to children in India, a country where many children go without learning opportunities. Pratham USA also provides job training for uneducated and underprivileged men and women. Fewer than 5 million Indian youth had access to formal job training between 2014 and 2015. In addition, at least 130 million Indian youth will enter the workforce in the next five years but many of them will not have formal job training or a full education.

Pratham USA realizes the connection between poverty and education, which is why its mission is “every child in school and learning well.” The organization builds schools and sends teachers over to India to teach children and adults who would not access these learning opportunities otherwise. Pratham USA is one of the “most successful non-governmental education organizations in India.” It provides training for new teachers, builds schools and education systems and has a cost-efficient system of teaching that other nations can easily replicate. At least 14 countries use Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) to ensure children receive a quality education.

Pratham’s Annual Gala

Every year in October, Pratham USA holds a gala in the U.S. state of Chicago. Borgen Project writer Seona Maskara was fortunate enough to attend the gala on October 6, 2018. Surrounded by businessmen and prominent members of the Indian-American community, Maskara learned about what Pratham’s purpose is and how Pratham USA in India helps to educate disadvantaged children. At the gala, four speakers took the stage: a business supporter of Pratham USA, members of Pratham USA’s teen board, the president of Pratham USA and a recipient of one of the many programs Pratham USA put in place to help educate the children and women of India.

The unnamed beneficiary of a Pratham USA program spoke about her childhood in a small village where female education is highly discouraged. She initially lived with her mother, siblings and abusive father. Her father died when she was young, leaving her family in poverty. Her family struggled to survive on 2400 rupees (about $32) a month. Her mother was uneducated and could not secure a higher-paying job, demonstrating the link between a lack of education and poverty. The beneficiary speaker saw the ties as well. As a result, she dreamed of nothing more than to complete high school. Before she could realize her dream, her house burned down. She ended up in a hospital with severe burns and was unable to finish school.

Within time, she attended a Pratham skills training camp. Afterward, she secured a job as an in-home nurse with a salary of 12,000 rupees per month — five times the amount she and her family lived off of when she was a child. With this salary, the beneficiary speaker began to live independently and provide for her mother and siblings. In this way, Pratham can change the lives of an entire family.

Pratham USA’s Goal

After opening in 1995, Pratham USA’s first goal was to bring education to Mumbai slums; it has since expanded. It works with both national and state governments to implement new and innovative teaching methods and opportunities to make sure every child has the chance to attend school. The organization focuses on implementing learning into the structure of the community by sending volunteers to teaching school. It also trains new teachers to make sure its legacy is long-lasting.

Examples of Pratham’s innovative teaching strategies include teaching to a child’s ability instead of age, creating libraries for the whole community and implementing technology strategies. To increase girls’ education, Pratham implemented a Second Chance program, which allows older girls to receive a secondary education. It also has five-day-long residential camps for girls whose home life would not allow them to go to school every day. For adults who did not receive an education when they were young, Pratham also provides vocational training, lifting people out of poverty by training them for skilled jobs.

Impact in Numbers

“Pratham USA reached 8 million children” in the 2017/18 school year alone. That same year, the organization supported more than 15 million children through government-supported literacy and learning programs. Pratham USA taught an additional 900,000 children through its own learning programs. Also, in that year, 26,000 people received vocational training. Pratham educational interventions improved literacy rates by 50% with a 45% increase in number recognition. Girls’ graduations increased by 30% with Pratham intervention. Graduates of vocational training also see success as they are often able to triple their monthly income up to $200 after training.

Pratham USA in India helps to advance the educational system in India, giving children access to quality education. With the work of Pratham USA and other nonprofits, India can begin to strengthen its education system. Quality education will help children lift themselves out of poverty through higher-paying, specialized jobs.

Seona Maskara
Photo: Flickr

The Importance of Secondary Education
Secondary education is an important segment in every person’s life. It also serves as a means to potentially empower girls, raise a person’s economic status and reduce infant mortality rates as these listed facts will show. Here are the 10 facts about the importance of secondary education.

10 Facts About the Importance of Secondary Education

  1. Child marriage would reduce by 64 percent if all girls received a secondary education. Moreover, early pregnancies would lower by 59 percent.
  2. There are more than 226 million children around the world who do not attend secondary school. If these children were all to go onto secondary education, then the under-five mortality rate would fall by 49 percent. According to Ann M. Veneman, the Executive Director of UNICEF, evidence shows that girls who receive an education are more likely to take better care of their families, and in turn, reduce infant mortality rates.
  3. A person’s earnings should increase by 10 percent on average for each year of school they attend. As a result, education may help boost economies and bring populations out of poverty.
  4. In 29 countries around the world, children must complete secondary school. Some developed and developing countries will even pay for children to attend secondary school.
  5. In just 40 years, a country could raise its Growth Domestic Product (GDP) per capita by 23 percent through equal access to education.
  6. The attendance of all children to school would require $39 billion in funding every year.
  7. Children often start to drop out of school after primary school. The decrease in enrollment is as much as 10 percent worldwide and 34 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  8. In the year 2012, reports stated that there were 168 million child labor workers between the ages of five and 17. This is one of the reasons a child might be unable to attend school.
  9. In most developing countries, public school is not free for children to attend, as they must purchase books, uniforms and other school supplies. Even factoring out the costs of going to school, 67 million children still do not receive the right to attend. As a result, millions of children do not obtain a proper education, making it difficult to find substantial forms of employment. One solution to this has been Child Empowerment International, an organization that works to provide education to children across the world by setting up day schools for children without access to education, such as in refugee camps.
  10. While girls are less likely to be able to attend school in the first place, boys are more likely to repeat grades or drop out of school altogether. This is due to various issues within their countries, such as restrictions on education for women or early marriage.

There are many issues regarding education and while there are many projects working to decrease these issues, the issue is still at large. There is a need for an international presence regarding the importance of secondary education, and education itself.

– Alex Cahill
Photo: Flickr

teethsaversinternTeethsavers International is a nonprofit organization focused on caring for children in developing countries by promoting a healthy smile, thereby improving overall health. Their primary purpose is to teach children, adults and educators about dental techniques that are simple, inexpensive and realistic considering a lack of normal dental equipment.


The phrase “teach a few to teach many” is Teethsavers International’s motto. Their strategy to reach as many children as possible is to teach a few people from each country, so that they may educate to their own villages.

Teethsavers International took it upon themselves to come up with their own techniques and ways to educate on oral hygiene, in order to effectively reach as many as possible. Their desire to facilitate change is clear when comparing their expenses in developing countries to those of the U.S.

By The Numbers

For example, dental school in the U.S. for four years can cost $110,000 while Teethsavers dental school costs $2,500 for one year. A tooth filling in the U.S. costs $75 where a Teethsavers Atraumatic Restorative Filling (ART) is two dollars.

These realistic techniques are paramount for these educators to understand. There is an extremely large amount of children unable to receive any kind of dental care, leading to many oral diseases, including tooth decay and gum diseases. Tooth decay is the single most chronic childhood disease, as it is 20 times more common than diabetes and four times more common than early childhood obesity.

To put in perspective the importance of educating people in developing countries, consider the ratios of dentists to patients around the globe. Compared with the U.S., where there is one dentist to every 1,900 people, in Belize there is one to 7,100 people, in Zambia there is one to every 57,000 people and in Malawi there is one to every 105,000 people.

Local Impact

Recently, Teethsavers International ventured to a primary school in Kabwabwa. They used songs, visual dialogue and interactive activities to teach the children and their parents about the importance of oral hygiene and how a person’s mouth is truly the “window” to their overall physical health.

The Teethsavers International Director, Fred Sambani, directly spoke to the primary school, as well as helping pass out toothbrushes, and the school was very thankful. The Kabwabwa Primary school head teacher, Joyce Mgusha said “We are very happy that they have distributed toothpaste and toothbrushes to pupils. These instruments will motivate them to clean their teeth and have good health. When pupils are in good health they tend to perform well in class.”

Teethsavers is a wonderful organization with a vision and they are effectively taking steps to facilitate change by creating happy and healthy smiles.

– Emilie Cieslak
Photo: Pixabay

Protecting Girls' Education in Vulnerable Settings ActIn the fiscal year (FY) 2019, the federal government plans on spending $27.7 billion on foreign assistance. This money will go to over 100 countries around the world. The money is broken down into nine categories including economic development, health, humanitarian assistance and education and social services. Education and social services are projected to receive $645 million dollars in FY 2019. S. 1580 will affect how this money is spent. What is Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act or S. 1580? It is a bill that focuses on giving more educational and economic opportunities to displaced girls.

What is the Problem?

In 2016, 65.6 million people were identified as forcibly displaced. This number included three different populations: refugees, people displaced within their own countries and asylum seekers. In 2018, the number of displaced people grew to roughly 68 million people. Refugees make up approximately 25 million displaced people and half of the refugees are children. Many of these children do not have access to education. This is largely because a majority of refugees are hosted by the least developed countries in the world.

What is Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act or S. 1580?

S. 1580 or Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act, is a bill that advocates the education of girls who have been displaced all over the world. The bill also grants The Department of State and The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) the ability to work on programs that will aid displaced girls. These programs must provide safe primary and secondary education, increase the capacity of schools in host countries and help girls receive access to educational and economic opportunities.

Under S. 1580, the State Department and USAID are also encouraged to collect data with the help of multilateral organizations. This data will be about how accessible schooling and economic opportunities are for displaced people and if the programs put in place by the bill have benefited them.

How Much Will S. 1580 Cost?

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), S. 1580 has an insignificant cost to the federal government. Between 2019 and 2023, the bill will cost roughly $500,000, S. 1580 is drawing from funds that are already being given and does not require much additional funding. S. 1580 would also not create any budget deficits, i.e. it will not contribute to the national debt.

Where is the Bill Now?

S. 1580 was introduced in the Senate on July 19, 2017, by Sen. Marco Rubio. On July 26, 2018, the Committee on Foreign Relations issued a revised version of the bill without a written report to the Senate. Since then, the bill remains in limbo and there is currently no date for a vote on the bill. S. 1580 currently has 18 cosponsors, a majority of which are Democrats.

Foreign aid remains a small portion of the U.S. budget, approximately 1 percent. Despite this small number, it is important that the U.S. makes sure that money for foreign aid reaches the people that need it the most. S. 1580 ensures that conflicts and natural disasters do not get in the way of girls’ education. What is S. 1580? An opportunity to invest in girls who desperately need an education.

– Drew Garbe 
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in AnatoliaAnatolia is known as the Asian side of Turkey. Communities in Anatolia generally engage in a rural way of living where, most of the times, dynamics like globalization and technology are not the primary driving forces. Anatolia has been dealing with the issue of gender inequality in education, and there are many questions about girls’ education in this part of Turkey.

Reasons Behind the Gender Gap in Education

The gender gap that exists in Anatolia has not only existed in the workforce but has also translated to education in the region as well. Due to several different reasons, the people of Anatolia used to wish for their daughters to stay home and do domestic chores but, on the other hand, were motivated to send boys to school. That kind of behavior was a result of several barriers: lack of classrooms and schools, the distance of the school, the economic situation of families, early marriages problem and lack of female role models in Anatolia.

As the government was focused on decreasing the gender gap in education, the officials came up with a new program in 2004 that opened a door to many other programs and establishments related to this problem. Soon, the bad image of the situation was fixed with the help of different participants and the government taking effective steps to overcome the issue of the gender gap in the education of Anatolia.

Off to School, Girls!

One of the most impactful campaigns that was organized by the Minister of National Education and supported by UNICEF was Haydi Kızlar Okula! (Off to school, girls!). The campaign was very effective and became one of the first steps in the process of changing girls’ education in Anatolia.

The goal of Haydi Kızlar Okula! was to close the gender gap in 53 provinces that had the lowest enrollment rates of girls in schools in Anatolia by the end of 2005. The campaign did not only enable a sustainable social mobilization of the communities but also solved the issue of a lack of available schools and classrooms in different districts.

The campaign itself was a collective effort of many participants and institutions fulfilling their responsibilities for girls’ education in Anatolia. The government of Turkey might seem like the main organizer of the program but many other companies and organizations were also involved. Nationwide TV channels voluntarily contributed to the program in terms of spreading the news, and Coca-Cola provided free publicity.

The contribution of the campaign in solving the problem with girls’ school enrollment was remarkable because it increased the number of girls in primary schools immediately. According to 2010 data shared by the Ministry of National Education in Turkey, the number of the girls in schools in 10 provinces was 10 by the end of 2003. This number was increased to 33 provinces and 73.2 girls by the end of 2004 and then up to 53 provinces and 62.251 girls by the end of 2005. It should be highlighted that a total of 239.112 girls attended primary school as a direct result of Haydi Kızlar Okula!

Haydi Kızlar Okula! might seem off-topic to the revolutionary decrease of the gender gap in Anatolia today due to the fact that it happened in the early 2000s, but it is considered the first of many other campaigns that solved the issue of the educational gender gap in Anatolia.

– Orçun Doğmazer
Photo: Flickr

Girls Finishing Primary School
The importance of education in lifting a country out of extreme poverty has been well established. Specifically, girls’ education promotes gender equality, raises wages and results in smaller, healthier families. There is an unprecedented increase in girls finishing primary school, allowing them to get educated alongside their male peers.

Income Levels and How they Affect Girls Finishing Primary School

The percentage of girls who can afford to attend (and finish) primary school is directly tied to their country’s income level. Level 1 is extreme poverty; the family can barely afford to eat and must get water from wells. Level 2 is lower-middle income; the family can afford decent food and shoes. Level 3 is upper-middle income; the family can afford running water and basic appliances. Level 4 is high income; the family can afford a nice house and cars.

Level 4: Oman

One hundred percent of girls in Oman finish primary school. Primary school starts at age 6 and continues until age 18, and girls can go to one of 1,045 schools as of 2011. However, back in 1973, when Oman was a Level 1 country, there were only three primary schools with no girls attending them at all. Oman has experienced phenomenal advances in both poverty reduction and girls’ education.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said ascended the throne in 1970 and did not like what he saw. He vowed to improve life for the Omani people. This included, among many other things, opening more schools and allowing girls to attend them. Additionally, he made public school free, allowed private schools to exist and created a comprehensive kindergarten curriculum. With the availability of free education for girls, 100 percent of girls attend and complete primary school.

Level 3: Iraq

In Iraq, 58.8 percent of the nation’s girls finish primary school. This is down from 68 percent in 2004, but it is higher than the 0.722 percent that it was in 1974. At present, girls make up 44.8 percent of students in primary schools.

The Iraqi school system is far from ideal. Uneducated girls, when asked why they do not attend school, cite abusive teachers, poverty, the presence of boys and concerns about domestic and national safety. Those who do go to school endure dirty bathrooms, a lack of clean drinking water and the aforementioned abusive teachers. Despite this, there are enough girls finishing primary school in Iraq to keep the country out of extreme poverty in the next generation.

Level 2: Morocco

In Morocco, 94.7 percent of girls finish primary school. This is a stark increase from 22.9 percent in 1972. After King Mohammed the Sixth ascended the throne on July 30, 1999, he began placing more focus on the education of his people. His efforts have impacted girls more than boys, as shown by the fact that only 9 percent of girls have to repeat any grades in primary school, which is less than the 13 percent of boys who have to do so. Although this has done little to improve women’s reputations as workers thus far, it is still a victory for the country.

Level 1: Myanmar

In Myanmar, 89.3 percent of girls finish primary school. This number was only 30.8 percent in 1971 for a simple reason: extreme poverty. While schooling itself is technically free, parents still need to pay for uniforms and supplies, and boys are favored over girls in terms of whom parents will spend money on. Sometimes, girls as young as 4 years old are sent to schools in Buddhist monasteries, which means being separated from their families.

However, help is being provided by the international community. Educational Empowerment is an American organization dedicated to promoting educational equality in Southeast Asia. It develops and supports schools in Myanmar, publishes books, and gives microloans to mothers to help get their daughters into school. This has helped girls catch up to their male peers and finish primary school.

For girls, getting an education has historically not been an easy task. Between the cost of school attendance, the existence of extreme poverty and general gender inequality, girls often fall behind their male peers when it comes to receiving an education. However, thanks to new government rulings and help from nonprofit organizations, there are now more girls finishing primary school than ever before, and the number is set to rise even higher. In the near future, girls’ education will be on par with that of their male counterparts. This is important because educating girls leads to educated women, and educated women can help lift a country out of extreme poverty.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

girls' education in Paraguay















In eastern Paraguay, both deforestation and poverty continue to run rampant among inhabitants of the Atlantic Forest. An area wherein a majority of the people are uneducated, girls continue to be largely denied access to an adequate education.

Statistics On Girls’ Education in Paraguay

The literacy rate of girls 15-24 years old in Paraguay has risen to 98.62 percent as of 2015. However, while a majority of girls in the country are literate, the retainment rate of girls in schools is low. From completion of primary school to upper secondary school, the participation of girls drops 25 percent, from 86 to 61 percent. Additionally, as of 2012, 42,486 female children and 29,531 female adolescents remain out of school.

Approximately 70 percent of girls in the area are pregnant by age 16, largely due to poor education and impoverished living conditions for women. One school, the Centro Educativo Mbaracayu, is seeking to alleviate these problems and help girls’ education in Paraguay.

The Centro Educativo Mbaracayu

Founded in 2009, the Centro Educativo Mbaracayu is a boarding school exclusively for girls. The school sits on the Mbaracayu Forest Nature Reserve, which protects the largest portion of the remaining Atlantic Forest. Although the Atlantic Forest contains hundreds of native and endangered species, only about 7 percent of the original forest remains. The Centro Educativo Mbaracayu, started by the NGO Fundación Paraguaya, teaches its students to take care of the forest around them while also educating them in other areas.

The school exclusively caters to rural and indigenous girls, a group severely disadvantaged by the Paraguayan education system. One of the benefits of the forest school is the cost accessibility for its students. Tuition is free for indigenous girls and is 100,000 guaraní (approximately $17.50) for non-indigenous girls. Centro Educativo Mbaracayu is able to keep costs low for its students by operating self-sufficiently.

One of the important aspects of the schools’ curriculum is its focus on reproductive and sexual education. The severe lack of reproductive education in Paraguay is arguably one of the main causes of young pregnancies in the country. By promoting reproductive health and sexual education, instructors at Centro Educativo Mbaracayu hope to help their students achieve their degrees — not only as a tool to achieve better socioeconomic standing, but also to instill confidence and self-worth into the girls.

Beyond sexual education, the school teaches the girls techniques for agribusinesses and IT skills. Students can also study differing applied skills specializing in textiles, tourism and environmental management. All classes are taught alongside and in accordance to national Paraguayan educational standards, in order to broaden girls’ education in Paraguay while still complying with national standards.

Graduating from Centro Educativo Mbaracayu

Upon graduating from Centro Educativo Mbaracayu, students receive high school diplomas in Environmental Sciences as technicians and are highly encouraged to pursue higher education.

Since its founding the school has graduated Paraguay’s first female forest ranger, two primary school teachers in the community and a hopeful future president, just to name a few. More importantly, every girl at the school leaves knowing her worth and having learned many invaluable skills.

While living and learning at the school, a community is formed. A community that highly values its female students and its forest environment. The girls are taught to care for the forest and the animal inhabitants within it while gaining skills in sustainable forestry.

The goal of the school is rehabilitation and growth. Rehabilitation for the shrinking forest and growth for Paraguayan girls who have previously been undereducated. By teaching and taking care of the region’s girls, the school is in turn taking care of its forest and starting a movement for better girls’ education in Paraguay.

– Savannah Hawley
Photo: Flickr