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Why girls?


There are an estimated 244 million children and adolescents out of school and millions more who are not learning – even if they are in school. Global school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to further learning loss, especially in lower-income countries where remote learning options were more limited, and heightened income insecurity caused an additional burden on families.

Girls are more likely to be out of school

Poverty is the main factor preventing children from attending school, though gender, living in a rural area and having a disability are also significant barriers. The good news is that between 2000 and 2008, the out-of-school rate for children and youth declined, as the global community came together to fund and promote measures to improve access to education. The bad news is that, since then, it has remained constant as low-income countries struggled to ensure access for the poorest families.

In too many cases, children facing the highest barriers may never go to school at all. The World Inequality Database on Education (WISE) shows that in low income countries, 41% of the poorest children have never been to school, compared with 12% of children from the wealthiest families. Similarly, 25% of rural children have never seen the inside of a classroom, compared with 9% of urban children. As seen from a gender lens, 26% of the girls have never been to school, compared with 21% of boys.

Children growing up in a crisis zone, caused by either military conflict or natural disasters, are also highly disadvantaged. Handicapped children and those from minority groups who speak a language other than the main language of instruction also face difficulties in getting to school and staying there.

Regionally, half of all out-of-school primary aged children live in sub-Saharan Africa and most of these live in West and Central African countries. No region has reached gender parity in school enrolment at the primary level.

Quality education is crucial for learning

Basic literacy and numeracy skills are the fundamental tools that will enable girls and women, as well as boys and men, to take hold of their lives and develop solutions adapted to the needs of their communities and country. Research convincingly shows that programs focused on educating girls are more effective than virtually any other community investment in the developing world.

Basic quality education provides girls with access to health and nutrition information for themselves and their families – including helping to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS. It provides a safe place to grow as they learn. It gives them the knowledge to provide economic support to their family. It delays marriage and pregnancy, thereby lowering infant and maternal mortality. And, an educated woman is more likely to send her children – both boys and girls – to school, thereby increasing the likelihood of future generations receiving an education.

Please visit our project page for details on our funding.

Healthy, safe, empowered girls transform families, communities and countries.