Approximately 115 million children of primary school age are not enrolled in school. Another 37 million African children will learn so little in school that attending may not be as advantageous as saving money or putting the children to work. However, education is paramount for improving the economic status of individuals and improving the social and economic standing of communities.
In general, the cost of attending public schools in developing nations is the responsibility of students, families and faculty. Books, supplies and teachers’ salaries are usually the responsibility of students’ families. Cost is only one reason for low school attendance.
Of the children not enrolled in schools, 53 percent are girls. In many cases, girls are denied schooling as a result of the misconceptions about gender in education which place less value on educating girls as opposed to educating boys. The belief centers on traditional gender roles which place more value on women in the home.
Some of the top barriers to education around the world include lack of funding, teachers, classrooms and materials as well as the exclusion of girls and children with disabilities. The reasons for these barriers differ across borders but there are explanations that blame the inequality on misconceptions about gender in education in terms of future success, wages and family planning.
The following facts have been determined to debunk common misconceptions about gender in education in developing nations:
- Educated women and girls are less vulnerable to HIV as well as various forms of exploitation.
- Each additional year of education mothers receive reduces child mortality by two percent.
- Each additional year of schooling for women is associated with a 10 to 20 percent wage increase.
- Women re-invest 90 percent of their income into their families
Studies have also shown successes in longer school weeks in countries like Colombia. Longer school weeks keep students occupied and prevent exposure to commonly risky situations. Improving access to education for girls has a vast economic impact which increases families’ ability to afford to send more children to school and allows parents to work longer.
This information has spurred initiatives to improve education worldwide specifically for young girls. One initiative is the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) whose top priority is ensuring access to complete and quality education for girls with the aim to increase the percentage of girls completing primary school from 74 percent to 84 percent by 2018.
There are several pieces of legislation that have been introduced that aim to improve education and economic status for women. These include the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act and the Reach Every Mother and Child Act.
The most recent success for legislative activism is the passing of the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act that promotes universal access to basic education for children across the globe especially girls. These acts are reliant upon constituent action so it is important to contact congressional leaders to support them.
– Rebekah Korn