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