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Girls Education in IndiaIn 2017, India was ranked 130 in human development out of the world’s countries, putting the country on the medium level in regards to human development. This placement is due to imminent barriers that prevent girls from equal access to India’s academic opportunities. By contributing more to girls’ education, India’s ranking would improve as it would help to alleviate some poverty. This article presents the top 10 facts about girls’ education in India.

Top 10 Facts About Girls Education in India

  1. The caste system, dating back to 1200 BCE, is a form of discrimination that had been officially outlawed in 1955; however, its influence thrives in India’s modern-day education system. On the top of the system is a group called the Brahmins, and at the very bottom are Dalits (“untouchables”). This method has kept many Dalit girls secluded from promising scholastic endeavors. These children are often from their peers segregated during lunchtime and ridiculed by them in class. This rhetoric causes 51 percent of Dalit children to drop out of elementary school. Another law passed in 1989 was supposed to protect the Dalit caste, but it is not being sufficiently enforced.
  2. Gender inequality has deterred education for girls in India for a long time. In 2017, 32 percent of girls were not enrolled in school in comparison to 28 percent of boys. A male’s education in India is more valued, therefore; it is often seen as unnecessary to financially support a girl’s education due to these binding gender roles.
  3. In impoverished villages where schools are inaccessible and not encouraged, gender roles lead to a third of girls in India marrying off their educational futures. As high as 47 percent of the girls in India are subject to marriage by 18 years of age. This leads to early pregnancies, which makes it impossible to attend school as they must shoulder the stigma and the additional workload. Some regions also don’t permit pregnant girls to attend school, which puts education even further from their grasp.
  4. In 2009, the Right to Education Act (RTE), mandated that it is the right of every child to obtain a minimum amount of education. The program was supposed to make it compulsory for children ages 6 to 14 to access educational opportunities as more provisions were enacted. This was a step in the right direction, but more must be done to actively close the gender gap and retrain society to value girls’ education.
  5. The Right to Education Act in India seems to have improved the country’s ranking when looking at the growth in literacy rates. In 2001, literacy rates were 64.8 percent; however, this had increased to 74.04 percent by 2011. As of 2001, around 54 percent of girls were literate; however, after the RTE, the percentage had increased to more than 65 by 2011.
  6. Every year, 23 million girls in India drop out of school after they begin menstruating due to lack of sanitary napkin dispensers and overall hygiene awareness in schools. Lack of reproductive education leaves 71 percent of girls unaware of what takes place in their bodies during menstruation. Many girls even believe that was is happening is “unclean” and shameful. Even with awareness, lack of sanitary pads in rural areas force girls to use cloths that sometimes cause infections; only two to three women use sanitary pads.
  7. At least 47 percent of schools lack toilets, forcing girls to rid their bodily waste onto the streets, which is morally degrading to them. This is another reason they drop out of school, to avoid this shame. RTE included adding toilets to schools to solve this problem, but it wasn’t enough. Therefore, the Department of School Education and Literacy under Ministry of HRD implemented a program named, Swachh Vidyalaya, which would add $4,582.91 worth of toilets to schools.
  8. In Bihar, where the literacy rate for girls is 20 points lower than for their male counterparts, the trek to school is far. For someone in the Rampur Singhara village, the trek is 4 miles, and the bus fare is too expensive to send the child to school. However, the state government has given free bikes to families to encourage a higher literacy rate in poorer regions like Bihar. The bicycle program instantly showed success as the number of girls registering for schools went from 175,000 to 600,000 in the span of four years.
  9. India is expanding its horizons with technology to combat illiteracy, and it seems that women are benefiting the most. Computer-Based Functional Literacy (CBFL) teaches the basics of reading. This program targets individuals ages 20 to 50, which branches out India’s education system in terms of age for both sexes. Women comprised 81 percent of those who signed up for this efficient program. Girls who are at home due to poverty, gender roles or a host of other reasons are able to engage in education, thereby increasing the literacy rate.
  10. The poverty rate in India has declined from roughly 54 percent in 1983 to 21.2 percent in 2011 ever since educational improvements began taking place. Knowing this, it can be found that if India provided more resources for girls’ education, its GDP would increase. By simply increasing girls’ enrollment in secondary school by 1 percent, the  GDP in India would increase by $5.5 billion.

India aims to grow from a medium developed country to one of higher rank. Considering its recent strides in education, it is possible for India to attain this goal. However, this can only be done by realizing there is still more work to be done in closing the gap between boys and girls as these top 10 facts about girls’ education in India show.

Gowri Abhinanda

Photo: Flickr

Education in Eritrea
Eritrea is a very poor country, downtrodden by their struggle for independence, regional instability and environmental challenges. However, within the first decade of independence, the government of Eritrea made education a priority, and the new focus was almost immediately accepted as a valuable tool for lifting the country out of poverty. The government views education as a cornerstone for the nation’s development; for this reason, the nation focused on growing the amount of its schools and rural areas gained access to education. Yet, education in Eritrea still faces several challenges.

Education in Eritrea

In 2013, education in Eritrea was supported by a grant from the Global Partnership to implement an education program through UNICEF. The program, “Enhancing Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education for Social Justice,” sought to help children from disadvantaged communities receive a quality education. This program consists of three key performance markers, which are:

  1. To increase pre-primary, elementary and middle school to at least 44,576 out of disadvantaged students in rural areas.
  2. To progress the quality of teaching and learning through aiding teachers with better skills, textbooks, science, ICT and health kits; to create and allocate education resources to all levels.
  3. To strengthen the capability of MOE staff to regulate education in Eritrea.

Although the government has provided a free basic education policy and non-formal education programs, great numbers of children are still out of school. In 2015, UNICEF reported the net enrollment rate at the primary level was only at 81 percent — at least 19 percent of children are not enrolled in school.

The government of Eritrea provides primary education, but where they fall short is in the pre-primary level and retention rates. UNICEF stated that 79 percent of 5 year olds were not ready for school, and the organization’s report concluded that 70 percent of children between 11 and 13 did not attend secondary school. Furthermore, every year 5 percent of children drop out; and, an outstanding 13 percent of children repeat grades.

Educational Hurdles

A great challenge for education in Eritrea is the quality of education. Complementary Elementary Education (CEE), a program supported by UNICEF, has done it’s best to educate the most disadvantaged students in Eritrea; yet,  there are still not enough desks nor textbooks for every student.

The literacy rate is at an overall 74 percent; for females specifically, the literacy rate sits at just 61 percent. In 2015, the Primary Gross Enrollment rate in Eritrea for men was 58 percent, while girls were left at only a 50 percent enrollment rate. During the same year, it was reported that Primary Completion Rate was at a 42.5 percent completion rate; boys were at a 45.4 percent rate, yet girls only amounted for 39.5 percent.

Increasing Access to Education

UNICEF has tried to aid in the elimination of the gender gap in education for Eritrea. CEE tries to educate children and young adults who initially missed the ability to go to school, and this program places a significant focus on girls between the ages of 10 to 14. Girls at this age are expected to marry soon, while boys are expected to do more serious jobs to provide an income for the household.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has prioritized the expansion of educational opportunities for females. However, the MOE does not anticipate the gender gap in secondary education to be eliminated as quickly as it will in the primary level.

Eritrea’s education challenges will take time to overcome; yet, the nation is well on its way towards success. The government has implemented the Ministry of Education to create solutions and support in the development of education in Eritrea. With the help of aid groups, such as UNICEF and the Global Partnership, the nation is utilizing its foreign aid to help in its educational improvements.

– Stefanie Babb
Photo: Flickr

Books
Education can do wonders for anyone around the world. In many nations, however, there are young girls who are never given the opportunity to learn how to read, write and communicate.

In Egypt, women are on the lower end of the literacy scale — 65 percent of women are literate compared to 82 percent of men. Interestingly, though, Egypt on the world scale ranks 78 in the “best country for women” and 44 for “best country for education.” Although, Egypt isn’t immune to progress, here are 10 facts about girls’ education in Egypt and how far the nation has come.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Egypt

  1. More girls in Egypt are going to school. Education is becoming more and more accessible to girls in Egypt. In 1996, 66.9 percent of girls in Egypt were literate; this number has increased to 90.3 percent in 2013.
  2. Educating girls is better for the economy. When girls and women are educated there are more jobs for everyone. Low and middle-income countries can add $92 billion a year to their economies if girls went to school for 12 years.
  3. World Education’s integrated literacy initiative is changing lives. The World Education’s integrated literacy initiative brings health education to girls in Egypt, which for many, is a first-time exposure. This initiative encourages girls to become more educated and also promotes them to better take care of themselves.
  4. USAID brings education opportunities to Egypt. USAID carries out U.S. foreign policy to reduce poverty and help with international development. In Egypt, USAID works to reduce the gender enrollment gap at each level of education, and also offers improved access for girls to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  5. The number of out-of-school girls has decreased. In 2014, 153,405 girls were out of school. This number dropped significantly in 2016 to 45,132, which demonstrates that more children — especially girls — are attending school.
  6. Education empowers girls in Egypt. Educated women in Egypt are standing up for what they believe and taking a stand against gender prejudice. There are many in Egypt who believe that women shouldn’t receive an education because they will just end up married. In protest of this view, educated women in Egypt state that “education is the key to development” and every girl needs this key.
  7. Egypt plans to end illiteracy in three years. The Ministry of Local Development in Egypt announced in June that they plan to end illiteracy in Egypt within the next three years. Some of the steps to reach this goal is to require each student to teach up to eight illiterate people, provide a reward system so students teach others and organize training courses for teachers.
  8. Poverty affects girls’ education in Egypt. Roughly 45 percent of the Egyptian population lives in poverty and on an income of less than $2 a day. Due to this fiscal poverty, proper education gets put on the back burner for many families.
  9. Egypt’s literacy rate has grown in the last 10 years. In 2005, the literacy rate in Egypt for girls from 15 to 24 was 78.95 percent, and in 2013 it rose to 90.33 percent.
  10. More girls are in primary and tertiary education than boys. The school system in Egypt divides the level of education by age. Pre-primary is four to five years old, primary is six to eleven-year-olds, secondary is 12 to 17-year-olds and tertiary is 18 to 22-year-olds. Currently in Egypt, girls make up 103.67 percent of primary level education where boys make up 103.59 percent. In tertiary education, girls make up 34.85 percent of those enrolled and boys make up 34.04 percent.

Increasing Access to Education

These facts about girls’ education in Egypt demonstrate how the fight for equality is still progressing. Girls crave knowledge just as much as boys do, and thankfully there are many ways other boys, girls, men and women can get involved in helping support girls in developing countries receive the proper education.

One easy way to support access to education to girls in Egypt and those in other developing countries is supporting the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act and getting government officials to support this act as well.

– Victoria Fowler
Photo: Flickr