The Gender Summary of the 2013/4 Education for All Global Monitoring Report highlights the serious gender imbalance in global education that has left over 100 million young women unable to read a single sentence. The summary, launched for International Women’s Day in partnership with the UN Girls’ Education Initiative, calls for equity to be at the heart of new global development goals after 2015 so that every child has an equal chance of learning through quality education.
Half of the 31 million girls out of school are expected never to enroll or have the chance to learn. Despite some progress, in 2011, only 60% of countries had achieved parity in primary education and only 38% of countries had achieved parity in secondary education. Among low income countries, just 20% had achieved gender parity at the primary level, 10% at the lower secondary level and 8% at the upper secondary level.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the largest number of countries with severe gender disparity in access to primary education, with girls making up 54% of the out-of-school population across the continent. In the Arab States the situation remains unchanged since 1999, with girls making up 60% of the out-of-school population. Despite some progress, girls still make up 57% of the out–of-school population in South and West Asia as well.
On current trends, by 2015 it is projected that only 70% of countries will have achieved parity in primary education, and 56% of countries will have achieved parity in lower secondary education. The new summary reiterates the need for progress in education to be more evenly spread between girls and boys if global education goals are to be achieved.
Read on to find out more about the state of girls’ education around the world.
End the learning crisis for girls
In India, even if they are enrolled in school, poor girls have a lower chance of learning the basics than others. For example 21% of poor girls in Madhya Pradesh are able to do basic mathematics compared with 27% of poor boys. Likewise, only 16% of poor girls in Uttar Pradesh are able to do basic mathematics compared with 24% of poor boys. However, India is introducing some innovative reforms which should be replicated nationwide, and have lessons for other countries too. Activity Based Learning in Tamil Nadu is successful in improving learning and is helping to prevent disadvantaged children, including girls, from falling behind.
“The impact this way of teaching has on the pupils’ learning is huge,” Faimonissa (pictured) says: “I like the new methodology. Before, the teacher woud make us sit in a line, away from the blackboard and teach us. Now, we all sit around in a circle, along with the teacher and learn. We all understand much more easily through this new method. If we don’t understand something, we ask our teacher and they explain it to us.”
In Pakistan, on recent trends, rich boys and girls are expected to complete primary school by 2020, but poor boys will only reach this fundamental target in the late 2050s and poor girls just before the end of the century.