Girls’ education in Burkina Faso has been limited due to gender divisions and much-needed improvements in infrastructure. However, several efforts by aid organizations have worked to improve the access that girls have to education in the country.
The issue is recognized by the government in Burkina Faso well as by aid organizations, and improving girls’ education in Burkina Faso has been a goal of these organizations. Meetings such as the Pan-African Conference on the Education of Girls as early as 1993 as well as the more recent Ten-Year Plan on the Development of Basic Education and the National Policy of Integrated Development of Children, which outlined a plan for 70 percent enrollment by 2015, have been specifically designed to address issues of education in the country over the last two decades.
Statistical Improvements in Girls’ Education in Burkina Faso
The improvements in education from aid and organizational efforts are reflected in statistical improvements. A 2011 report by the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) explained that in 2010, “the boy-to-girl student ratio at primary school level stood at 0.94, up from 0.7 in 2000.” However, a UNICEF report indicates that the larger picture statistics still indicate improvements are needed. From 2008 to 2012, in a longer analysis of net participation, the female net enrollment ratio stood at only 50 percent.
The meetings and efforts about the education system as well as girls’ access to education in Burkina Faso have helped the country make significant progress in improving its educational system. According to UNESCO, the Pan-African Conference on the Education of Girls “marked another milestone in regional efforts to make education for all a reality in terms of quality, access and management.”
Gender Roles Still an Obstacle
Girls in Burkina Faso face gender expectations that make access to education extremely difficult. UNICEF cites gender disparity as well as educational infrastructure issues to be the primary reasons why girls do not receive equal educational opportunities.
According to UNICEF, “The education system is characterized by geographical disparities both in terms of enrollment rate and in infrastructure coverage. There are also disparities related to gender – 65.7 percent of boys attend school against 54.5 percent of girls.”
However, social and gender roles are also being addressed in a similar fashion. Meetings, conferences and aid are assisting the country in decreasing the importance of gender roles for girls and women. According to UNGEI, the Burkina Faso government has increased its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education.
As aid organizations continue to improve both the education system overall as well as girls’ education in Burkina Faso, they will be investing in children who will make important decisions. Both women and men, when provided the best education available, will be able to make informed decisions about education for generations to come.
As the government improves access to girls’ education in Burkina Faso and works to reduce traditional gender roles, women will be provided with more opportunities to learn and as well as the opportunities to have more autonomy over their lives as well.
– Gabriella Evans