Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Egypt
Education is one of the quickest ways for development and equality to happen in a society. Egypt is one of many countries that recognizes the importance of education in general and specifically, girls education.

The country has already made great strides towards equal educational opportunities for girls and progress only continues. In the article below, top 10 facts about girls’ education in Egypt and the implemented plans for development in the country are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Egypt

  1. There is a clear gender gap in Egypt’s education. Studies show that 64 percent of Egyptian girls and women above the age of 9 cannot read. The Egyptian government is doing everything to change this statistic by revamping the entire education system. Great plans for new education reforms and eliminating illiteracy entirely are established.
  2. In support of girls’ education in Egypt, the Ministry of Local Development plans to end illiteracy in just three years, starting in June 2018. The plan focuses on getting girls into safe and clean school early as early as possible.
  3. Egypt is completely redesigning their education system to reach girls.  However, Egypt is focusing on providing an inclusive and quality education for anyone who seeks it, regardless of gender. This goal is perfectly expressed in Egypt Education Reform Project.
  4. The new reform focuses on primary and secondary schooling and rejects superficial approaches to learning, instead of promoting the development of important life skills such as problem-solving abilities. The Minister of Education in Egypt, Dr. Tarek Shawki, explained that the goals of the education system are teaching real-world knowledge and self-understanding. Children will be learning life skills as well as self-reflection.
  5. In support of girls’ education in Egypt, The World Bank is investing $500 million to improve access to quality primary and secondary education. This funding aims to upgrade classrooms and technology, allowing for around 500,000 children to start their education as early as in kindergarten by 2023. This funding will also allow for continued professional development for teachers and supervising staff.
  6. In 2000, the literacy rate for boys aged 15 to 24 was 80 percent and 64 percent for girls of the same age. In 2017, however, the literacy rate increased to 94 percent for boys and 92 percent for girls.
  7. The World Education’s integrated literacy initiative uses health information to teach women to read. The project, funded by the Ford Foundation, teaches women and girls how to read with books on women’s health, such as prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, breastfeeding, and health care for infants and new mothers. This program was so successful it is now standard in Egypt’s adult literacy programs.
  8. Educated women encourage more girls to go to school. One woman explained that once she began her education, her daughter, who was illiterate and had received no prior schooling, felt encouraged to begin literacy training. Girls will learn from their mothers and the women around them that education and empowerment are intertwined.
  9. Many girls are denied the right to an education because they are pushed by their parents and communities into getting married. New education opportunities and developments reject the idea that married women cannot be educated and emphasize that girls’ education in Egypt is key to development and growth.
  10. Investing in women’s education will promote rapid development in Egypt. In school, girls can learn about healthy choices and civic duties, alongside new technology and media. Women will know how to keep records, manage loans and handle other financing programs, allowing for growth in Egypt’s business and economy. This can be done with the help of U.N. Women and other organizations as well. According to the IMF, raising the female labor force participation rate to the male level, coupled with access to employment opportunities, would increase GDP by approximately 34 percent.

Egypt is a great example of how less developed countries can and should be committed to giving girls quality education. Great progress has been made in the country, as presented in the top 10 facts above, but there is room for more improvements.

A great way to stay involved with girls’ education in Egypt and across the world is to support Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act. Contacting U.S. state and national representatives to support this bill ensures that girls’ access to education only continues to improve.

Photo: Flickr

Protecting Girls' Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings ActThe Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 3 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.

In May 2017, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) reintroduced the bill in the House of Representatives. Prior to its passing in the House, the legislation gained 50 cosponsors — 37 Democrats and 13 Republicans.

The bill was assigned to the House of Foreign Affairs Committee and is meant “to enhance the transparency, improve the coordination and intensify the impact of assistance to support access to primary and secondary education for displaced children and persons, including women and girls.”

This means that if the bill passes Congress, USAID would be able to further improve existing education programs for displaced children, with an emphasis on girls. USAID would collaborate with the private sector and civil society groups to make these improvements possible. The bill would also require the State Department and USAID to include education data in any report to Congress that covers disaster relief efforts.

The bill would specifically allow the State Department and USAID to bolster programs that provide safe primary and secondary education for displaced children, increase school capacity in countries hosting displaced children and help give displaced children, especially girls, opportunities in educational, economic and entrepreneurial realms. It would allow the State Department and USAID to coordinate with multilateral organizations to collect data.

Educating girls is a key step to ending poverty. Girls who attend school are less likely to get married young, and if every girl received an education, adolescent marriage could decrease by 64 percent worldwide. Women are less likely to contract HIV/AIDS if they have adequate education. In addition, an extra year of secondary school increases a woman’s future earnings by anywhere from 15 to 25 percent. Lastly, educated women are more likely to become entrepreneurs and invest in their communities, breaking the cycle of poverty.

Despite these facts, girls everywhere, especially displaced girls, lack access to proper education. Girls in conflict-affected countries are nearly two and a half times more likely to be out of school, and young women affected by conflict are nearly 90 percent more likely to be out of secondary school than their counterparts in stable countries. There are 98 million girls worldwide who do not attend school.

The vote to pass the bill in the House was done by voice, so there is no written record of which representatives voted yes and which voted no. The Senate must approve the bill in its original form in order for it to be passed on to the next step. If the Senate amends the bill in any way, it must be sent back to the House of Representatives to be accepted or rejected.

If the Senate passes the bill, it will go to the President’s desk next. He will then either sign it into law, veto it and send it back to Congress (which can overrule the veto with a two-thirds vote), or pocket veto it — which means that he would wait too long for it to be signed during the current legislative session.

According to Skopos Labs, there is a 38 percent chance of the bill being enacted. You can learn more about the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act here, and find out how to contact your senators about the bill here.

-Téa Franco

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Human Rights in TanzaniaOn June 22, 2017, Tanzanian President John Magufuli stated that pregnant adolescent girls will not be allowed to return to school because their pregnancies encourage other girls to have sex. This statement represents one of the several ways young women and other vulnerable Tanzanian populations are set up to fail, trapped in an endless cycle of poverty. There are numerous violations of human rights in Tanzania. This article will discuss three.

To understand the extensive violation of human rights in Tanzania, one must first understand what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says. This document was created on December 10, 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly because of the events of World War II. The document lists thirty articles or rights that belong to all people. The three articles of the document that are regularly transgressed in Tanzania are:

  1. Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  2. Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  3. Article 26: Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

Mistreatment of Young Women

Tanzanian women lack the human rights guaranteed to all in articles 3 and 26: the rights to livelihood, freedom, safety and an education. In their 2016 report, “I Had a Dream to Finish School,” the Human Rights Watch reported that girls in Tanzania are sexually harassed by teachers, bus drivers and adults. The leaders in their lives who are supposed to guarantee their safety instead request sex in exchange for gifts, rides or money. Schools in the country do not report sexual abuse cases to police. In addition, there is no system for reporting these infractions confidentially. The result? Less than one-third of girls entering lower-secondary schools graduate.

In addition to being sexually harassed, girls also are forced to take pregnancy tests at school. If a girl is pregnant, the school then expels her. Tanzanian schools expel around 8,000 pregnant girls each year. This policy reinforces President Magufuli’s June comments and is intended to discourage an upsurge in teen pregnancies. In reality, the policy violates the human rights of these young women. It also targets the victims rather than the offenders.

Barring Education through Testing

Tanzanian school children lack the human rights guaranteed in articles 5 and 26: the rights to not be exposed to cruel punishments and to seek an education. According to the Human Rights Watch, the Tanzania government controls the number of students who can seek a secondary education by making it mandatory for all students to take the Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE). The only students who can attend secondary school are students who pass the exam.

However, passing the exam is very difficult. This is because quality of education at the primary level is poor. At the primary level, students are taught by teachers who have not specialized in the subject they instruct and class sizes are enormous. The average class has 70 students enrolled. Many students fail the PSLE as a result and are not allowed to retake it. Since 2012, more than 1.6 million adolescents can’t pursue secondary education because of their exam results. This violation of human rights in Tanzania thus denies an opportunity for upward mobility.

Corporal Punishment in the Classroom

In addition to impeding children’s chances to continuing their education, adults utilize corporal punishment to discipline students when they do attend school. Students suffer from physical and psychological abuse in Tanzanian schools. Some teachers beat students with bamboo or wooden sticks, or with their hands or other objects. These actions make securing rights that much harder for this population.

While the state of human rights in Tanzania may seem grim for vulnerable populations, there is hope. Legislation currently in Congress can help to reverse these violations if passed. The Protecting Girls Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act seeks to work with international governments to ensure all women and children can peaceably seek an education. Help get this important piece of legislation passed by contacting your leaders today.

Jeanine Thomas

Photo: Flickr

Global Education in 2016
Global education in 2016 has seen many successes and many challenges. Advances in technology have increased many children’s access to education and educational materials, but the ongoing refugee crisis has created an education crisis for children in much of the world. Above all, two landmark pieces of legislation, the Education for All Act and the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act have aimed to expand and protect access to education for those all over the world.

While many parts of the world suffering from poverty have limited access to resources such as textbooks and other school supplies, technology has been making strides to replace these things in countries all around the world. E-readers, smartphones and online libraries have been used in places like Sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti, and these advances aim to make education more accessible to children in impoverished regions.

This year has been notable for the refugee crisis, with 2.1 million Syrian children among the many global refugees. School enrollment rates for Syrian children remain lower than those in Sub-Saharan Africa, and refugee children remain five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children. This has been a serious challenge to global education in 2016, and it will likely continue well into 2017 and beyond.

Male students globally remain more likely to receive an education than their female counterparts, and this problem is what the Education for All Act hopes to solve. This bill is a bipartisan effort to advance and encourage basic education for all while prioritizing groups who have been marginalized or denied an education due to conflict.

Another effort to improve girls’ access to education worldwide is the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act. This legislation hopes to protect girls who are in danger from conflict or who are refugees by improving their access to education. When they are not enrolled in school, refugee girls are especially vulnerable to dangerous situations such as trafficking, child marriage and underage labor.

Global education has seen both improvements and increased challenges in 2016. While the refugee crisis has seen an uptick in children who are not enrolled in school, the Education for All Act and the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act aim to combat this problem and improve access to education for the most vulnerable and stigmatized.

Eva Kennedy

Photo: Flickr