Girls' Education in Papua New Guinea

While primary school enrollment rates in Papua New Guinea are low for girls and boys, there is a significant disparity between the two. Several factors contribute to the worse girls’ education in Papua New Guinea, some of which governments and organizations are working to change.

Factors Contributing to Gender Inequality

  • Political Factors – Women’s social status in Papua New Guinea is below men’s, limiting female positions of leadership. To combat some of this inequality, the country attempted to create legislation that would reserve seats for women, but it was defeated in parliament. As a result of this, initiatives to promote gender equality often have difficulty in receiving funding.
  • Economic Factors – School fees dissuade parents from enrolling their daughters, as they feel it is more beneficial to enroll their sons. Although, many boys do not receive an education as well: about 64 percent of boys and 57 percent of girls attend primary school. Hunger also contributes, as starving students are less likely to attend school. In urban areas, food shortages are common because of less gardening land. Malnourished children often develop illnesses, also causing them to miss school. Additionally, a lack of appropriate water and sanitation facilities negatively impacts girls’ education in Papua New Guinea. They are often not private enough, and sometimes there isn’t even running water. Once girls reach puberty, they often leave school because they cannot maintain menstrual hygiene at school.
  • Social and Cultural Factors – Girls do not enroll in school because they are required to take care of their younger siblings while their parents work. Child marriage also contributes to poor girls’ education in Papua New Guinea. Married girls do not continue to attend school, and approximately 22 percent of girls in Papua New Guinea get married before the age of 18.

Safety is another serious concern for girls. Gender-based violence and harassment are prevalent in schools. Just under 50 percent of girls reported feeling safe at school, with 31 percent feeling unsafe. These feelings were strongest near toilets, sports fields and school gates, with only 2 percent of girls feeling safe around toilets.

Girls are harassed by male students and teachers, thereby afraid of physical and sexual assault. The high number of male teachers contributes to low enrollment rates, with male teachers out-numbering female teachers in primary schools. While the number of female teachers doubled between 2002 and 2012, there is still a significant lack of them.

Efforts to Decrease Gender Inequality in Education

World Vision launched a project targeting girls’ education in Papua New Guinea. They established community learning centers (CLCs), which provide early childhood care for girls and boys between three and six. Education improvement classes for children under 14 are also offered. The goal is to make it easier for children to succeed in school, as well as encourage parents to take a more active role in the children’s education. Between 2014 and 2017, approximately 6000 children attended classes at CLCs and 4o00 people were involved in community awareness efforts. After attending CLCs, 90 percent of children were prepared to begin primary school, significantly higher than the baseline of 80 percent.

The National Education Plan (NEP), developed in 2015, is also aiming to improve education, with a focus on gender equality. In their most recent $7.4 million grant, their goal is to better student achievement in math and science by improving pre-service and in-service teacher education, especially for women, and increasing access to textbooks.

Notable Progress

Due to these projects being implemented, some advancements have been made. A study by the National Research Institute found that the number of girls enrolled in school increased by almost 150 percent between 2001 and 2012. Additionally, primary school completion rates for girls rose by approximately 5 percent between 2014 and 2016.

While there is still a long way to go, Papua New Guinea has begun to decrease the differences between male and female education.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

Education in Somalia: From Shambles to Progress
In the midst of the Somalia civil war, education in Somalia regressed greatly with over 75 percent of public schools being shut down or left in destruction. However, in the past few years, Somalia has begun to rebuild its education sector with the help of fellow nations and the recent implementation of new policy.

On August 31, a brand new $65 million USAID project to improve education in Somalia kicked off with a signing at Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. The signing, which was well-received, was celebrated with a ceremony attended by the Federal Government of Somalia as well as U.S. officials.

The U.S. has pledged to support the Federal Government of Somalia in strengthening the Ministry of Education’s ability to manage and lead the education sector. In the past four years alone, the U.S. has given over $50 million to USAID to improve the Somalia education system.

As part of the U.S.’s efforts, which include training teachers, providing learning and teaching materials, helping with construction and renovation of school facilities and enrolling 21,000 secondary school students as well as 86,000 out-of-school youth, access to quality basic education has increased for children in Somalia.

Additionally, on September 19 the Somalia Ministry of Education announced that it had signed a Cooperation Framework and Memorandum of Understanding with three of its Federal governments: Jubaland, Galmudug and Southwest Administration.

This new policy sets a platform for the two levels of government to work together to ensure smoother management of the sector of education in Somalia. Somalia and its allies agree that combined management and interaction of the National and Federal Governments is a necessary step to provide quality education for all Somalian children.

Current development partners in Somalia, such as the EU and the Global Partnership for Education, welcome and support this signed framework.

The EU is playing a crucial role and has committed to increasing the participation of children, youth and adults in all of Somalia’s education levels. Since joining the Global Partnership in 2012, Somalia received a total of $14.5 million in grants between 2013 and 2016.

The grant has been allocated amongst several regions: Somaliland was given $4.2 million, Puntland received $2.1 million and South and Central Somalia received $2.8 million.

Part of the grant given to South and Central Somalia was utilized as funding to hold a 15-day accelerated training program and pay incentives to nearly 1,000 newly recruited, qualified teachers, which made it possible to extend public education access from the beginning of the 2013-2014 year.

Since the inauguration of the Federal Government of Somalia in August 2012, education in Somalia has evolved immensely. The Federal Ministry of Education has recorded major growth in capacity with more schools than ever under its direct management.

Through grants and outside funding from supportive nations along with the new signing of the framework and memorandum, Somalia continues to strengthen its education sector to reach its goal of providing quality and equal education to all.

Alex Fidler

Photo: Flickr

Roll Back MalariaThe Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) is comprised of more than 500 partners, including malaria endemic countries, bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, nongovernmental community-based organizations and research and academic institutions.

Arguably, the most admirable feature of RBM is its ability to form effective partnerships both globally and nationally.

Partners work together to increase malaria control efforts at a nationwide level, coordinating their activities to avoid duplication and to ensure optimal use of resources.

According to the RBM website: “malaria is a preventable and treatable infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes that kills more than one million people each year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria is the leading cause of death for children under five.”

In 2015, there were about 214 million malaria cases worldwide and 3.2 billion people (about half the world’s population) were at risk of contracting the disease. Close to 100 countries and territories across the globe still had ongoing malaria transmission.

Though there is still much to be done, significant progress has been made in the fight to eliminate malaria. RBM reports that between 2000 and 2015, the global malaria mortality rate was reduced by 60 percent overall. Among children under five, the numbers are even higher, with a 65 percent reduction in the last 15 years.

“On the basis of reported cases for 2013, 55 countries are on track to reduce their malaria case incidence rates by 75 percent, in line with World Health Assembly and Roll Back Malaria targets for 2015,” states the RBM website.

In 2014, an increasing number of countries were on the verge of eliminating malaria. 13 countries reported zero cases of the disease and six countries reported fewer than 10 cases. “The fastest decreases were seen in the Caucasus and Central Asia (which reported zero cases of malaria in 2014) and in Eastern Asia,” RBM reports.

RBM has contributed immensely to these victories by helping to forge consensus between partners, mobilizing resources and catalyzing action.

In 2015, RMB went through a transformation in order to adapt its architecture to better meet the needs of countries in this new era of development. The restructuring of RMB has led to the “Action and Investment to defeat Malaria 2016-2030 (AIM).” This initiative seeks to build on the success of the first Global Malaria Action Plan, bringing us one step closer to a malaria-free world.

Vanessa Awanyo

Sources: WHO
Photo: Roll Back Malaria

5 Ways to End Poverty
The end of global poverty is in sight. While this may seem like a difficult, if not impossible feat, in fact, the opposite is true. By adhering to these concepts, the United Nations states that poverty can be ended in the near future.

  1. Economic Growth: Training and education are key for economic growth in the developing world. Once these two necessities are met, more jobs can be created and people will earn more money to fuel the economy.
  2. Representative and Responsible Government: Corruption has been known to prevent foreign aid from reaching the most impoverished people. Open governments are less likely to be corrupt and more likely to provide social services to their citizens.
  3. ‘Green’ agriculture and development: Due to climate change and population increases, environmentally friendly policies are critical for ensuring sustainability and healthy lifestyles.
  4. Healthcare/Sanitation: Without access to proper healthcare, communities are affected by disease, illness and death, factors that contribute to lack of economic development and social progress. Access to clean water and sanitation will also improve health conditions. When children are healthy, they can go to school and grow up to have careers, thus ending their parents’ poverty cycle.
  5. Global Partnerships: No one country can end global poverty on its own. In order to reduce poverty, everyone must work together to ensure that these other factors are met. Foreign aid, improving trading relations or diplomacy are ways that countries can contribute to eliminating poverty.

Although this is a simplified list, these big ideas are vital for finally ending world poverty. Once poverty is reduced, hunger, war, and illicit operations common to developing countries will no longer be prevalent because people will no longer be imprisoned by extreme poverty. The U.N. is on track for meeting its Millennium Development Goals and hopes to see the end of world poverty by 2030.

– Mary Penn

Sources: Plan Canada, Government of the United Kingdom
Photo: The Guardian

MDG 8: Global partnership for development
This is the eighth, and last, in a series of posts focusing on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs are a set of eight goals agreed upon by almost every country in the world, based on a shared commitment to improving the lives of all people. These targets are to be achieved by 2015 and, two years out from this goal, it is important to recognize how much progress we’ve made and how much we have left to do.

The final MDG is made up of six criteria that aim to establish a global partnership for development. Progress with regard to these targets has been uneven and gradual. The criteria are:

  1. Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system
  2. Address the special needs of least developed countries
  3. Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States
  4. Deal comprehensively with the debt problem of developing countries
  5. In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
  6. In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications

The first of these targets, to more fully establish a fair and effective trading and financial system, has been stagnated by protectionist policies put in place by developed countries. Such measures became more prevalent following the economic downturn in 2009, and they continue to affect an estimated 3% of global trade. This trend exists even among G20 countries that pledged to resist such measures.

The special needs of least developed countries have been minimally addressed, as measured by the criteria laid out in the MDGs. With the important exception of agricultural products, tariffs imposed by developed countries on developing countries have remained mostly unchanged since 2004. Aid to sub-Saharan Africa fell by almost one percent in 2011. In contrast, during that same year, aid to Northern African countries increased after springtime revolutions. These figures resulted in an overall increase in aid to the African continent. Debt relief initiatives have been fairly effective for some poor countries plagued with debt. However, 20 developing countries are still at high risk of debt distress.

In regards to the third criterion, there is still a lot of progress to be made. Aid designated for landlocked developing countries actually decreased in 2010, representing stagnation in the goal of meeting the specific needs of such countries. On the other hand, aid to small island developing States increased significantly. These countries are especially vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change and turbulence in international economic interactions. This means that, although some of them could be classified as middle-income countries, they are often highly indebted and in need of assistance.

Developing countries often have significant debt problems. MDG 8 aims to address this by encouraging developed countries to provide aid to highly indebted countries. As previously mentioned, 20 developing countries are at high risk of debt distress. However, the developing world handles the economic troubles of 2009 fairly well and in 2011, the debt to GDP ratio dropped for many developing countries. Caution prevails though, with growth expected to slow in the coming years.

Many deaths in the developing world could be easily prevented with essential drugs. MDG 8 aims to provide such drugs to developing nations at affordable prices with the help of pharmaceutical companies. This initiative has proven fairly effective. Despite the economic downturn, resources aimed at providing necessary medicines through global health funds focused on specific diseases increased in 2011. Work still needs to be done in order to translate this increase in funding into improved affordability and availability of these medicines in developing countries.

In order to rise out of poverty, developing countries will need improved access to technological advances, especially when it comes to information and communications. MDG 8 aspires to provide this access by working with private sector companies. Efforts on this front have yielded significant improvements. The use of mobile phones is on the rise, with 6 billion phones in use as of 2011. Although a wide disparity between the developed and developing world in regards to internet use remains, it is decreasing rapidly. The proportion of internet users residing in the developing world increased from 44% in 2006 to 63% in 2011. However, progress has varied greatly between regions. For example, less than 15% of people in sub-Saharan Africa have reliable access to the internet.

The eighth MDG is ambitious and far-reaching. It aims to establish a global partnership for development covers a wide variety of topics, from trade policies to pharmaceutical innovations in developing countries. Although progress has been made in these areas, there is still important work to be done. Trade policies must be modified to better serve the world’s poor. Essential drugs need to be available and affordable for people in developing countries. Donors and support groups must meet the specific needs of the least developed nations, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing countries. Working towards all the criteria in MDG 8 will create and strengthen a global partnership that will aid in the development and help people rise out of poverty.

– Katie Fullerton

Sources: UN MDG Report, UN News Centre, UN
Photo: Romano Prodi

USAID's LGBT Global Development PartnershipThe United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently celebrated its LGBT Global Development Partnership. USAID has become increasingly more active in its efforts to protect the rights of LGBT persons in developing countries ever since President Obama’s initial election in 2008.

LGBT rights and equality were important selling points in President Obama’s campaign and he, along with members of Congress, have made some progress toward LGBT equality around the world. USAID’s LGBT Global Development Partnership is an organization that combines USAID programs and NGOs around the developing world to protect the rights of LGBT persons.

This can be a daunting task in many countries, especially those in which homosexuality is a crime, sometimes punishable by death. Countries such as the Sudan and Nigeria both enforce the death penalty for homosexuality as a crime. Thankfully, USAID’s efforts continue to provide a bit more safety for LGBT persons around the developing world. Learn about State-sponsored homophobia around the world.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Huffington Post
Photo: Flickr