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Five Ways to Keep Girls in School
March 22, 2016

Adolescent girl at desk in school (USAID)

Educating girls is important. The U.S. Agency for International Development says children born to educated mothers are twice as likely to survive past age 5. In the last decade, there’s been a remarkable increase in the number of girls in developing countries attending primary school. But there’s also been a remarkable drop-off in the number of adolescent girls who continue their education. While 87 percent enroll in primary school, only 39 percent graduate from secondary school.

Here are five ways to help girls realize their full potential through education.

Put schools where girls can get to them

Girls in a classroom, some raising their hands (USAID)

In rural areas, schools are often far from girls’ homes. Research in Nigeria and Kenya has demonstrated that as the distance a girl has to travel to school increases, the likelihood of that student missing school or dropping out altogether increases too.

Keep girls in school safe

Girl at desk reading from notebook while another looks up (USAID)

When girls have to travel long distances to school, they are vulnerable to attack and harassment. In cultures that discourage education for women, girls are subjected to persecution, violence and intimidation in and around the classroom. Communities that work to ensure girls’ safety at school improve girls’ educational outcomes.

Train teachers to be gender aware

Two students looking up from their books (USAID)

Sometimes teachers and textbooks reinforce the idea that girls are less intelligent than boys or only show girls and women as household workers and caregivers. Teachers trained to counteract these stereotypes can help girls discover the opportunities education creates for them. Having a significant number of female teachers also helps to fight discrimination against girls and provides role models for female students.

Ease the workload of girls at home

Young girls wearing checked uniforms with red collars in a classroom (USAID)

Household work such as carrying water, preparing food and washing clothes falls disproportionately to girls and women throughout the developing world. It is the primary reason girls are kept home from school. Spreading the burden of chores across all members of the family helps girls succeed.

Get rid of obstacles that keep girls out of school

Three girls outside drinking from cups (USAID)

In many developing nations, especially in rural areas, girls don’t attend school during menstruation because they don’t have access to sanitary pads or running water. In Uganda, the female speaker of parliament has led a campaign to make sanitary pads more widely available to keep girls in school.

To learn more about the importance of girls’ education, take the YALI Network Online Course, “Understanding Human Rights of Women and Girls.” Join #Africa4Her and tell us how you will be bold for change at yali.lab.dev.getusinfo.com/4her.