Girl education goes beyond enrolling girls into schools- it is ensuring that they feel safe as they learn in school. It also deals with them having the opportunity to climb the academic ladder to any level of their choice by acquiring skills and knowledge to compete in the labor market. Additionally, girl education involves learning socio-emotional and life skills in order to navigate and adapt to the changing world; make their own life decisions and contribute to their communities and the world at large.
Girls’ education is a strategic priority of development. Elites who are women tend to be more informed in terms of nutrition, healthcare, family planning, and marry at a later age should they choose to become a mother. They are however likely to partake in the formal labor market and earn higher incomes. These can positively lift the households, community, and countries out of poverty.
According to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reports, around the world, 132 million girls are school drop-outs or are out of school – the breakdown is as follows; 34.3 million of primary school age, 30 million of lower secondary school age and 67.4 million of upper secondary school age. There are multiple barriers to girls’ access to and completion of education;
Poverty is one of the major factors which determines whether the girl-child can complete her education successfully. Poor families lack resources to pay for schooling and its associated cost such as payment of school fees, buying of textbooks, buying of school uniforms, etc.). financially handicapped households with multiple children may decide to invest in boys rather than girls because they believe the dwelling place for the girls in the kitchen and performing household chores. Studies however show that girls who face multiple disadvantages such as low family income living in rural or remote areas or underserved locations are lagged behind in terms of access to and completion of education.
This is also a critical challenge that confronts the girl’s education. This is very common o the African continent. Girls who marry early end up forgoing education most of the time. They are more likely to get pregnant and give birth at the expense of schooling. Due to early marriage, they are exposed to a lot of health issues that end up endangering their own lives and that of their children. They are exposed to higher levels of violence perpetrated by their partners and in turn, this affects their reproductive health and the health of their children as well as their ability to earn a living.
The above also prevents a lot of girls from climbing the academic ladder. Girls who cover long distances to school are exposed to gender-based violence which includes sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, and many experiences at school. Due to these circumstances, teenage pregnancies can occur as a result of sexual violence or exploitation. Furthermore, girls who become pregnant at that early stage face a lot of stigma from their peers and society as a whole. The burden of stigmatization when compounded by these victims drops out of school.