Pan African Girl Child Education Campaign
Worldwide, girls constitute over half of the children out of school. Only 30 percent of all girls are enrolled in secondary school. In many countries, less than one third of university students are women. The average sub-Saharan African girl from a low-income, rural household gets less than two years of schooling and never learns to read and write, to add and subtract, as opposed to the average African boy especially in Sub-Saharan Countries, who fully completes primary education.
The false view persists in many cultures that it is more beneficial to send the son to school because sons will stay in the family, whereas girls leave the family to join her husband’s family after she gets married. This reinforces gender stereotypes that a women’s place is in the home taking care of children, cooking, cleaning and doing other unpaid work.
In more than 100 countries around the World especially in Africa, school is not free and many parents cannot afford the tuition or the cost of uniforms.
Faced with social and economic barriers, parents often chose to invest in their son’s, and not their daughter’s education. Unsafe travel over long distances to and from school and the lack of separate latrines (outdoor toilets) for girls are other reasons why millions of girls are forced to stay out of school and denied an education. These factors also explain why girls drop out at much higher rates and at earlier ages, sometimes only completing two years of school; compared to a boy who is more likely to make it to secondary school and beyond.
The high rate of child marriage in many countries means, many girls never had the opportunity to go to school or are forced to drop out of school at a young age.
Education is crucial for the empowerment and emancipation of girls and women, and the realization of all other human rights. Educating a girl has a transformational effect that changes communities and societies. More importantly, women having the responsibility of nursing and raising the child on behalf of the family. Comparing children being raised by uneducated parent and those raise by educated parents are obvious:
- Education empowers girls by introducing new ways of thinking about traditions and issues, and challenges traditionally held gender roles.
- Education helps a girl to respect herself and to be respected by others.
- Education drastically reduces child marriage. On average, a girl with 7 years of education will marry 4 years later and have 2.2 fewer children.
- Studies have shown that a girl who completes basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV.
- Knowledge and skills learned at school will be passed onto her children and will eventually trickle down to the entire community.
- Education is essential for a strong economy. One extra year of school boosts a girl’s future wages by 10-20 percent.
- Children born to educated mothers are two times more likely to survive past the age of 5.
- Education fosters critical thinking skills, which are essential for effective leaders and democracy.
- More women are needed to solve global problems!
In 2000, the United States, Nigeria and 162 other countries signed the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Declaration, with the target of ending global poverty by 2015. MDGs 2 and 3 commit signing countries to ensuring that by 2015, every boy and girl will be able to complete primary school thereby, eliminating gender disparity at all levels of education.