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.

Background

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

Hope for Girls’ Education in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, second only to Haiti. Its alarming levels of poverty have had a detrimental effect on the quality of education in the country, disproportionately affecting children in rural areas. While the completion rate of primary education has experienced an upward trend in recent years, the issue of education in Nicaragua demands further attention. Specifically, girls’ education in Nicaragua faces unique challenges and requires sustained action and support.

Access to Education

Access to education only slightly differs between young male and female children. This makes the education system of Nicaragua look quite good in terms of gender equality, yet that is only because the access to education lacks overall for both genders.

Nicaragua is ranked 12 out of 145 countries in gender gap index with a score of 0.776 out of 1.00, which would represent no inequality. Despite being ranked so high, the education system is still lacking due to how many children, male and female, are not in school. The enrollment of male and females in primary, secondary and tertiary education are fairly equal.

It is difficult for these children, specifically girls, to receive an education because of the poverty in their country. The families of these children start to heavily rely on them for economic support by the time they reach the age of 10. These children are frequently forced to drop out of school before the fifth grade to help support their families economically.

Creating New Priorities

Females are often relied on to do domestic work, such as take care of their siblings and other chores within the household while their mothers work. Girls’ education in Nicaragua becomes second priority to their domestic duties.

In 2010 1,046 females were out of school, compared to the 10,868 male children that were not. Unfortunately, as these children grow older it becomes increasingly difficult for them to remain in school. For 2010 adolescents, there were 25,747 males out of school, and 18,861 females out of school. This shows there is not a large disparity between boys and girls suffering in education, but yet males are expected to go out into the workforce if they leave school while females are not.

Overcoming Obstacles For a Bright Future

Overall, females face greater challenges in accessing education than their male counterparts. Females in Nicaragua face strict gender norms and religious beliefs that are deeply rooted in their society. They face adolescent pregnancy which is a great indicator of dropping out of school at an early age. These females also feel pressured to help their families with domestic responsibilities for no pay because of the way women are viewed in their society. All these factors lead to a significant struggle in females overcoming hurdles and receiving an education in Nicaragua.

Although there is more work to be done, girls’ education in Nicaragua has improved greatly over the past few decades. Sixty-nine percent of females completed primary education in 2000, and that figure is projected to reach 91 percent by the year 2020. The completion of secondary education by females in 2000 was 49 percent and is estimated to reach 70 percent by the year 2020. These gains demonstrate hope for the future of girls’ education in Nicaragua.

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr

UgandaSignificant improvements have been made in the accessibility and quality of girls’ education in Uganda. The female literacy rate has increased from 45 percent in 1991 to 68 percent in 2014.

Continuing this trend for girls’ education in Uganda is necessary to transform the country. However, there are still numerous barriers preventing girls from completing their education.

School Attendance

Despite being compulsory, 13 percent of girls between the ages of 6 and 12 didn’t go to primary school in 2011. Of the girls that did go, only 53 percent actually completed the required seven years. In secondary school, which typically encompasses students from 13 to 18 years old, female attendance significantly drops; 30 percent of girls between these ages weren’t enrolled in secondary school in 2011.

Poverty is one of the key reasons girls drop out of school. Impoverished families often need their daughters to stay at home and help with the housework or other income-generating activities. Some families have to marry off their young daughters to receive a dowry, which prevents them from continuing their education. Of the girls that stopped attending school, 40 percent dropped out because of child marriage.

Gender Roles

Another key barrier to girls’ education in Uganda are the traditional gender roles and male-dominated society. Women and girls are expected to do the majority of the domestic labor, often leaving little time to attend school and do the assigned homework.

In some areas, girls are actively discouraged from attending school. Instead, they are told education is for boys. Female students are often stigmatized as being promiscuous. These beliefs can be perpetuated in the classrooms if they are held by teachers, peers and eventually the girls themselves. The desire to participate and even attend classes suffers as a result.

The facilities and teaching style of schools were not designed to accommodate girls. The lack of proper sanitation and privacy makes it difficult for girls to attend school while menstruating. Girls can also face risks associated with a lack of security at schools, such as sexual abuse.

Alleviating Poverty

Improving girls’ education in Uganda can help pull families, and perhaps even the country, out of the poverty cycle. Every additional year of education yields a 10-25 percent increase in the income of a woman. An educated woman will then reinvest 90 percent of this income into her family. Helping a girl complete her schooling will double the likelihood that she will send her own children to school.

Educating girls can also help control the rapid population growth. Uganda currently has a 3.2 percent population growth rate, which is the fifth-highest in the world. On average, a mother has her first child at about 19 years old. Because women start having children at such a young age, Uganda also has a high fertility rate of about 5.7 children per woman.

By keeping girls in school, the rates of child marriage and teen pregnancy significantly decrease. If all girls were able to complete their education, the rate of teenage pregnancy would decrease by 59 percent.

Improvements for Girls’ Education in Uganda

Girls’ education in Uganda has been steadily improving, but still has a long way to go. Much of this progress was a result of the 1997 implementation of free, universal primary education. This policy significantly helped decrease the gaps in primary enrollment between girls and boys.

However, a report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, using 2014 Census data, found that although there were similar levels of primary school education between boys and girls, there were significant disparities in performance, levels of classroom engagement and access to facilities. In addition, there are still significant gender disparities in enrollment for secondary schools.

Because of the profound implications of girls’ education in Uganda, many organizations are determined to continue improving its accessibility and quality. Some of the most effective are local programs, which were developed to address specific problems in Uganda.

Nonprofit Uganda For Her began after one Ugandan noticed the poor access to sexual and reproductive health information for girls in rural areas of the country. It has since broadened into a more comprehensive strategy for empowering girls and women. The Girl Up Initiative Uganda has similarly local roots. The organization was founded when three individuals recognized the lack of educational opportunities for girls living in urban slums.

These organizations address the unique challenges girls in Uganda face when trying to attend school. Educating girls creates a ripple effect, helping families and communities break free from poverty.

– Liesl Hostetter
Photo: Flickr

girls’ education in PalestineAlthough the conflict in Palestine often grabs headlines, day to day functions, like girls’ education in Palestine, are important as well. According to The Brookings Institute, “Education, especially for girls and women, is one of the most highly leveraged investments that a developing country can make in its future.”

With its 25 percent rate of poverty and 60 percent rate of youth unemployment in conflict zones like Gaza, Palestine has an opportunity for growth and development. Investing in girls’ education could help kick-start that process. Girls’ education in Palestine can improve local young girls’ futures and the future of the whole region.

Palestinian women are among the most educated in the Middle East. They have a 94 percent literacy rate and go to primary school just as often as boys do. Palestinian girls consistently outscore their male peers in Tawhiji testing. In the 2006 school year, 14,064 more Palestinian women were enrolled in university than Palestinian men. Compared to the situations for women in Yemen, Egypt or Afghanistan, girls’ education in Palestine is thriving. However, there are still some obstacles to overcome.

Conflict with Israel

Conflict with Israel often disrupts the educational infrastructure of Palestine. Schools are damaged by rockets and bombs in volatile areas like the Gaza Strip and West Bank, limiting all children’s access to education. In 2014, in the Gaza Strip alone the education of 475,000 students was affected by this destruction. Palestinian schools in Israeli territory are regularly underserved, with overcrowded classrooms and lower budgets.

Higher Dropout Rates and Poorer Quality

Secondly, the dropout rate for high school students (though still low at less than 3 percent) has risen recently, with girls being slightly more likely than boys to leave school early. Women also tend to receive a poorer quality of education. Families are more likely to send boys to private schools because in a traditionally patriarchal culture they are seen as necessary for the extended family’s financial livelihood. When families have limited resources, they allocate them toward the boys who often work abroad, especially in the Gulf states.

Improvements for Girls’ Education in Palestine

Despite these challenges, girls’ education in Palestine continues to progress. Girls are equally represented in STEM alongside boys and their presence in universities continues to grow. The main challenges to female education in the region are political and cultural. While it may be unrealistic to expect a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian land conflict any time soon, attitudes about women are already changing.

One group of 40 Palestinian girls attending Sokaina Girls School in the Gaza Strip decided to challenge social norms about women’s role by building a library for their school. With support from UNICEF and other NGOs, they were able to bring a new world of learning and hope to a community where libraries are scarce. If more organizations and individuals supported initiatives for girls’ education in Palestine, the region would be one essential step close to eliminating poverty.

Despite cultural and political challenges, girls’ education in Palestine is progressing well. Success stories like the Sokaina Girls School library prove the power of education in bringing hope and change to the region’s underserved communities. A concentrated investment in these efforts for female education has the potential to reduce Palestinian poverty fundamentally.

– Lydia Cardwell
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in RomaniaAcross the globe young women often face the negative effects of gender discrimination on equal access to public education. This bias is often compounded by differences in ethnicity, social class, and physical and mental ability. Allowing these factors to affect a girl’s right to education is often cited as a primary cause of disadvantages throughout her lifetime, and can also have broad negative impacts on a country’s economy by limiting the contributions of a large percentage of the population. This is the case in Romania as the struggle of girls’ education in the country.

Inclusive Education in Romania

Inclusive education is defined as the right to equal access to quality education for all children, in a protective and open environment, regardless of one’s social and economic class, ability, or connection to an ethnic, cultural, or linguistic minority. Mag et al.’s work on inclusive education for the journal Materials Science, Engineering, and Chemistry, or MATEC, states that “inclusive education is a child’s right, not a privilege.” However, achieving this can be particularly difficult in a country with a recent economic crisis, such as Romania, where pressures to contribute to the family’s baseline needs at a young age can fall unequally on girls.

Girls’ education in Romania is often in jeopardy—particularly young women in rural areas—as they are often forced to drop out of school in order to better support their families within the household. In the primary school years, between the ages of seven and 10, only 85 percent of Romanian girls are enrolled in school. As they move from primary to secondary education, only 64 percent of the girls who had previously attended school make the transition compared to the 72 percent of boys who continue their education.

Effects of Limited Education

A lack of education from an early age creates a ripple effect felt throughout these young women’s lives. Many women are unable to complete the education required for even low-paying professional jobs, effectively holding them in a state of dependency throughout their lives, while also limiting their ability to contribute to the national economy. Only 65 percent of young women between the ages of 15 and 24 are literate in Romania, corresponding with a high 18.4 percent youth unemployment rate in 2017—nearly 10 percent above the U.S. youth unemployment rate.

International Organizations offer Assistance

Since the early 2000s, there has been a movement for greater equality in girls’ education in Romania. With the help of UNICEF, the country has created policies and programs to address the need for education reforms with a focus on gender. However, overarching policies, while effective in bringing change to the education system, do not necessarily target a child’s individual needs, or even the needs of a specific minority.

Education Priority Areas, or EPA, is a project focusing on disadvantaged communities in order to increase the communities’ youth’s access to quality and equal educational opportunities. EPA, created by UNICEF together with the Institute for Educational Sciences, a nonpartisan research branch of the United States Department of Education, has provided Romania with funds for schools and computers and has assisted in setting up programs both in and outside the classroom. These programs are designed to level the playing field for young women in need of additional support by achieving the education that is, indeed, the right of all children.

Improving opportunities for students can only be as effective as those providing the education are willing and able to make it. In addition to its work on education reform and assistance to the children themselves, UNICEF, in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of Education, created the National Programme for Education on Democratic Citizenship, a program dedicated to the rights of citizens’—particularly children’s—education. This program was launched in 2003, and was responsible for the inclusivity and inter-cultural approach training for nearly 300 educators within one year of the program’s conception, furthering the effort to create more opportunities concerning girls’ education in Romania.

As recently as 2011, there have been important advancements in the policy not only limited to girls’ education in Romania but focused on all children aged zero to three years old. A law which went into effect that year mandates an additional, transitional year of schooling, to be taught either at the kindergarten or primary education level. This is a particularly vulnerable time in a child’s development, a time where growth and adjustment are very closely linked to both family and socialization through preschool.

Romanian communities and many others throughout the world have been able to benefit from the work done by UNICEF and other organizations, providing students with the support necessary to build brighter futures, regardless of gender.

– Anna Lally
Photo: Flickr