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Girls' Education in Brazil
In Brazil, the fight for women’s rights is still a developing movement that has not become a priority of the nation. When it comes to education, the reasons why many girls do not enroll in or stay in school goes hand in hand with the government’s slow progress in providing a sustainable foundation for the opportunity of education for all. The following 10 facts about girls’ education in Brazil show some of the triumphs and setbacks in seeking higher enrollment of girls in Brazil’s educational system.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Brazil

  1. In Brazil, the average rate of schooling among women is one year more than men. Even though women are becoming more involved in education, they experience fewer employment opportunities and lower wages than men. Women continue to earn 30 percent less than men for performing the same tasks. On a political level, women only occupy 56 seats in the Brazilian Congress while there are 594 seats total.
  2. Women are increasingly closing gender gaps in education. There are many teenage girls subject to poverty who are victims of early pregnancies that keep them from continuing their education and entering the workforce. The adolescent fertility rate in Brazil, reported in 2013, was 70 which is above the average level of 67.7 for Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the World Bank.
  3. Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and an advocate for young girls, has been working on outreach to girls in Brazil through the Malala Fund. She has rallied up a team of around 460 students as part of Apple’s coding and web development academies in Brazil that her fund launched with Apple as part of Apple’s campaign to influence the education of technical coding. The partnership between the Malala Fund and Apple strives to give girls the opportunity to create change for other girls in their communities. The Malala Fund aims to help girls increase their enrollment in schools and equip teachers and students with real-life skills to succeed.
  4. Though the investment in early childhood enrollment in schools has increased, percentages of enrollment still drop in general. The 2018 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development states that access to pre-primary and primary education has become universal among five-year-olds and six-year-olds, girls included (97 percent and 100 percent). However, later in the educational journey, only 69 percent of 15 to 19 year-olds enrolled in education. Among those adolescents, girls hold the majority for out-of-school students at 254,202 girls compared to 209,507 boys, reported in 2016 by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
  5. Gender ratios in schools in Brazil are varied. More often, in STEM-related schools, there is a larger number of boys than girls who stay enrolled. Beatriz Magalhães, a teacher at one of Apple’s developer academies, saw the issue of gender ratios first-hand at the location in Rio. She said, “there was a giant line for the men’s bathroom and not the women’s bathroom.” This might seem like a simple observation but it is significant in the conversation towards improving the educational system for girls in various fields.
  6. Some of the main reasons for why girls drop out of school and do not continue their education are that they are too busy working to support their families, they are in abusive situations or experience child marriage or prostitution. A 2015 OECD study found that 32 percent of Brazilian women do not attend secondary education.
  7. A barrier to access to education for rural girls has to do with transportation. Concerns are over whether a commute to school is safe as well as the wait for new construction of highways and roads. A program to improve the efficiency of transportation in Tocantins, Northern Brazil is called the Tocantins Integrated Regional Sustainable Development project. It aims to strengthen and develop the state and rural road networks as well as reduce gender-based violence along highways.
  8. More schools are adopting programs to combat girl drop-out rates. A 2018 article by the World Bank said that the Upper School Darcy Ribeiro “will adopt a program to raise awareness about gender and physical, psychological or sexual violence.” This school, along with five others, in particular, will be partnering with the World Bank to jumpstart the program to show the correlation between these topics. The program’s purpose is to address and educate students of the dangers in close proximity in order to prevent students from having to face them. Since their specific school is by a busy highway, girl students are especially subject to sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases and prostitution rings.
  9. There is a better chance of keeping girls in school when the administration tries to engage them. For example, Principal Elizete Batista Viana, of the Upper School Darcy Ribeiro, personally contacted students who decided to leave school and tried persuading them to come back, mentioning the beneficial outcomes if they were to come back. Her efforts were successful and influential as some did arrive back to classes.
  10. The benefits of literacy among women in Brazil have proven to have lasting effects. The benefits include “greater participation in the labour market, delayed marriage and improved child and family health and nutrition.” These changes in lifestyle help reduce poverty rates and expand life opportunities.

Like many countries facing difficulties and barriers in advocating for its young girls, the origin of the problem lies in the continuation of cycles of poverty in families. Girls are often too afraid to break away from this cycle and pursue a life of their own. These 10 facts about girls’ education in Brazil show what has been possible and what more can come to fruition. Instilling the idea of education and literacy in girls at a young age has the potential to give girls the push to seek their rights to that education.

– Melina Benjamin
Photo: Flickr

girls education in Syria

The ongoing civil war in Syria has had a serious impact on many aspects of Syrian life. Syria once contained a highly educated middle class, but since the start of the civil war, this has significantly declined. Women have experienced a large reduction in their access to education. Here are 10 facts about girls’ education in Syria.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Syria

  1. During the 1990s, primary and preparatory schools were built to combat low literacy rates in Syria. Parents were legally required to send their daughters to school. This created equal enrollment ratios in primary schools for male and female students that reached around 92.61 percent enrollment in 1996. The war in Syria has drastically decreased opportunities for children to attend school, dropping the overall enrollment rate in secondary schools down to 44 percent by 2013 from 72 percent just four years before in 2009.
  2. Conflict in Syria has caused countless families to flee from rural areas to neighborhoods of 1070, Tishreen and Al-Riyadeh. These are areas where urban planning has worked to create apartments. A need for more classrooms arose due to a population increase and people taking refuge within these neighborhoods. UNICEF built a new 1070 school in 2013, the only girls’ intermediary school in the neighborhood, providing safety for students from the conflict in their neighborhood. However, in 2016, residents of the neighborhood fled due to an increase in mortars and bombardment. The school was abandoned and destroyed. This is common in Syria, where one in every three schools are damaged or destroyed, severely limiting student’s access to educational facilities.
  3. With 2 million children out of school due to the war, the amount of young displaced Syrian girls who get married before 18 has reached 41 percent. Education limits girls’ vulnerability to early marriage. However, with limited opportunities for girls to attend school, they have no way to learn the skills and obtain knowledge to advocate for themselves against child marriage.
  4. Regions controlled by Islamic extremists follow a curriculum outlined in “Women of the Islamic State”, a manifesto defining the role of women in society. This curriculum discourages women from attending institutions of higher education. It also supports a domestic-based education and marriage by the age of 16.
  5. Under the guise of an educational opportunity, young girls are often recruited for armed conflict. In 2017, 89 girls were recruited and used for armed conflict. Recruitment removes children form educational opportunities and puts them at severe risk.
  6. The Syrian Government has also worked to diminish the role of female teachers in the education system by denying the salaries for women teachers located in conflict zones. This often eliminates the primary income of a family and disproportionately affects young girls working towards achieving an education. Without female role models as teachers, young girls are often displaced from the education system, putting them at a higher risk for sexual and economic exploitation.
  7. Efforts made by the Malala Fund are working to provide technology that does not require internet access for Syrian girls to continue their education after seeking refuge in surrounding countries. Specifically, the Malala Fund paired up with Fadi Hallisso, the CEO of Basmeh and Zeitooneh, a Lebanese organization that works with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Turkey. The organization works to expand educational opportunities for Syrian refugee girls in those regions. The Malala Fund and Basmeh and Zeitooneh have worked to create accelerated learning programs and cultural centers to assist girls in getting up to speed on the educational standards of the local schools.
  8. U.N. Women started working to increase skills building and educational opportunities for girls displaced by the conflict in Syria. Sixteen-thousand female Syrian refugees benefit annually from the Oasis centers created by U.N. Women. These centers offer 400 cash-for-work opportunities as well as skill-building training to improve their opportunity for increased incomes. Syrian girls are also benefiting from the “SADA Women-only Centre,” which teaches technological skills, provides language courses, offers counseling services and connects women with jobs. U.N. Women is also working to build advocacy and leadership by Syrian women. A meeting was convened in June 2018 where 200 Syrian women convened to discuss the advancement of women’s rights in Syria.
  9. UNICEF started working to increase educational access for children in Syria, providing more than two million children with textbooks, stationery and school bags. UNICEF has also provided almost 80 thousand children with informal education opportunities. UNICEF’s focus on educational access for young Syrian children reaches across Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey with the goal of providing equitable educational access to 1.2 million children.
  10. Countries with high numbers of Syrian refugees are actively working to lift restrictions for school enrollment that disproportionately affect young Syrian girls and implement systems that are accessible for Syrian refugees. In 2014, Jordan recently lifted the requirement for Syrian refugee children to hold a residency card to attend their schools. Syria also introduced a temporary education system that offers Syrian students an education taught in Arabic.

These 10 facts about girls’ education in Syria present the lack of access and safety for Syrian girls attempting to obtain an education in Syria and in refugee areas. Many organizations are working to improve the educational inequality for Syrian girls. These efforts are improving educational conditions; however, as the conflict in Syria persists, there is still a necessity for progress towards equitable education in Syria.

Claire Bryan
Photo: Flickr

Education for Girls in PakistanIn April 2018, a school will open that is focused on improving education for girls in Pakistan of all grades. Thanks to the Malala Fund and the Big Heart Foundation’s Girl’s Child Fund, this school will serve approximately 330 girls with the expectation to increase gradually to 1,000 students.

Farah Mohamed, CEO of the Malala Fund, and Mariam Al Hammadi, the Director of the Big Heart Foundation, signed an agreement regarding the school in Oxford, London. In attendance at the signing was Malala Yousafzai and Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, the Big Heart Foundation’s Humanitarian Envoy.

Financing for the School

The Big Heart Foundation donated $70,000 to the school and agreed to pay for the school’s operational needs such as medical, security expenses, transportation, uniforms, staff salary and books. The Big Heart Foundation plans to finance the school’s first two years with these funds. The school will be located in Swat Valley, which is the hometown of Malala Yousafzai, the founder of the Malala Fund.

Malala Yousafzai commented on the donation, saying, “I overwhelming thank the Big Heart Foundation for believing in my dream of a world where girls can choose their own future path. With their support, the Malala Fund can provide education for girls in my hometown, Swat Valley in Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s Education System

The creation of this school is a small but essential step in improving tragically low literacy and education levels in Pakistan’s lagging school system. As of 2015, there were about 3,309,514 young girls not enrolled in school. This does not include the other 2,902,032 adolescent women who were also not enrolled. In 2014, the illiterate population for women who were 15 and older was over 32,000,000.

Pakistan’s primary education school has been characterized as one of the most underdeveloped programs. Only 60 percent of its children complete their education through the fifth grade, while the others drop out for various reasons. Additionally, only 8 percent of Pakistan’s population has the qualifying grades to receive a tertiary education.

The Contributors

The Big Heart Foundation was created in May of 2015 by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bin Mohammed Al Qasimi. The organization’s goal is to provide needed humanitarian support from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its primary aim is to help vulnerable families and children who live outside of the UAE, such as Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and others. It hopes to provide safe and secure environments to families and children in need, help increase the cooperation between local and regional government and help improve financial support.

The Malala Fund was founded in 2013 by Malala Yousafzai along with her father. This organization campaigns the idea that every girl has the right to 12 years of free and safe education. It believes that “girls are the best investment in future peace and prosperity of our world.”

Thanks to these two important organizations, in the near future, education for girls in Pakistan will finally be provided. Though education for girls in Pakistan is in dire need of improvement, this school is a vital, beneficial and necessary step.

– Cassidy Dyce

Photo: Flickr

World Leaders Committed to Tackling Global Education CrisisToday, approximately 265 million children of primary schooling age do not have access to quality education – or any education at all. According to UNICEF, only one in 12 young people in low-income nations are on the correct path toward acquiring secondary level skills, which are required for sustaining the development of their respective communities. However, world leaders have committed to tackling the global education crisis, setting the foundation for a brighter future.

In fact, it has been announced that world leaders re-committed to tackling the global education crisis once more at the 72nd U.N. General Assembly. Included in the list of countries are some highly developed nations and groups including Denmark, France, Norway and the EU, as well as low income nations such as Malawi and Senegal. These nations have decided to dedicate more of their national budget toward country-wide education improvement.

“I started as a teacher. I saw for myself decades ago in the schools and slums of Lisbon why education is a basic human right, a transformational force for poverty eradication, an engine for sustainability, and a force for peace,” says U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Financing education is indeed the best investment we can make for a better world and a better future.”

Furthermore, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the world’s only global fund dedicated exclusively to education in developing nations, has set out for itself the goal of reaching a budget of $2 billion by 2020. The GPE has also earned support from French Prime Minister, Emmanuel Macron; Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg; and the U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown. When these world leaders committed to tackling the global education crisis, they started by setting out the goal of increasing national budgets to more directly and effectively address the issue. The EU, for example, has dedicated eight percent of its humanitarian budget to accommodate education during emergencies in 2018. The Malala Fund, additionally, has pledged to increase its funding for education-based investments to $13 million.

But how does this compare to progress made already?

As one of the main world leaders committed to tackling the global education crisis, France has accounted for approximately 14 percent of the Official Development Assistance’s annual funding. With close ties to many nations in Africa – particularly in the northern and western regions of the continent – France was keen to see Africa successfully meet the Millenium Development Goals, which ended in 2015. However, according to France Diplomatie, the momentum of global education has slowed, likely triggering the government’s decision to continue to re-affirm commitment to tackling this issue.

Ultimately, this announcement from the U.N. is nothing short of positive news. This re-affirmation of global leaders committed to tackling the global education crisis is an excellent step to continuing the trend of more children in more developing nations receiving access to education – a highly necessary factor in ensuring the sustainable development of any nation around the world.

Bradley Tait

Photo: Flickr


Malala Yousafzai was interviewed on The Daily Show with John Stewart. Malala become a public figure after being shot by the Taliban.

 

Malala Yousafzai
On October 9, 2012, while traveling home on a school bus, a masked gunman targeted Malala Yousafzai and shot her in the head and neck, critically injuring her and wounding two of classmates.

At the age of 12, Yousafzai became an activist for education equality and women’s rights after writing a blog pseudonymously for the BBC that painted the picture of her life, and the lives of many other women and girls living in Pakistan’s Swat District, under extremist Taliban rule.

The moving BBC diary about Malala Yousafzai entitled, Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl, surfaced in 2009 after an edict, the Sharia law, banned girls in the Swat District from attending school. To enforce the edict, schools were bombed and families phased out of Swat, fleeing to other cities where their daughters could attend school without objection or threat to their lives.

Following the online publication of Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl, the New York Times produced a documentary called, Class Dismissed: Malala’s Story, which gained worldwide attention and brought Yousafzai notoriety for her bravery and stance against education inequality.

Now 16, Malala remarkably recovered from the attempted assassination with no cognitive damage after being treated in a rehabilitation center in the UK. It has been reported that Yousafzai was attacked for her attempt to promote a “smear campaign” against the Taliban. In a letter sent to Malala, the Taliban noted that they “never attacked [her] because of going to school…the Taliban believe[d] that [she was] intentionally writing against them and running a smearing campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system[s] in Swat.”

They also found her guilty of “provocative writings.”

Despite the Taliban’s efforts to frighten Malala into coming back to Pakistan, the young activist courageously continues her fight for education reform and women’s rights in Pakistan, by way of Britain, where she currently lives.

Malala received the coveted International Children’s Peace Prize and gave a speech at the United Nations in July which earned her a nomination for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest person ever to be considered for the award.

In a world where 57 million children don’t have access to education, 32 million of those children being girls, Malala Yousafzai is a role-model to all as she fosters awareness about the ongoing global issue of gender-based inequality and prejudice in education.

Because of The Malala Fund and the efforts of the Millennium Development Goals, the number of children with lack of access to primary education has declined by almost half—from 102 million to 57 million. However, considerable efforts are still underway to ensure that all children to have access to education, one day.

– Afieya Kipp

Sources: BBC, NY Times, Channel 4, UNDP

 

Malala Yousafzai Facts