Education is very important for every child whether boy or girl. It is sad that some communities still discriminate against the education of the girl child. About 57million children around the world are not going to school. The report, Children Still Battling to go to School, finds that 95% of the 28.5 million children not getting a primary school education live in low and lower-middle income countries – 44% in sub-Saharan Africa, 19% in south and west Asia and 14% in the Arab states, UNESCO said. Girls make up 55% of the total and were often the victims of rape and other sexual violence that accompanies armed conflicts, UNESCO said. As the world celebrates Malala’s birthday let us look at some of the reasons why girls should get an education.
1.FUTURE EDUCATED GENERATIONS – An African proverb says, “If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation.” By sending a girl to school, she is far more likely to ensure that her children also receive an education. As many claim, INVESTING in a girl’s education is investing in a nation.
2.DECREASE INFANT MORTALITY: Children of educated women are less likely to die before their first birthday. Girls who receive an education are less likely to contact HIV & AIDS, and thus, less likely to pass it onto their children. Primary education alone helps reduce infant mortality significantly, and secondary education helps even more. The Girls Global Education Fund reports that when a child is born to a woman in Africa who hasn’t received an education, he or she has a 1 in 5 chance of dying before 5.
3.DECREASE MATERNAL MORTALITY: Educated women (with greater knowledge of health care and fewer pregnancies) are less likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth, or during the postpartum period. Increased education of girls also leads to more female health care providers to assist with prenatal medical care, labor and delivery, delivery complications and emergencies, and follow-up care.
4.DECREASE CHILD MARRIAGE: Child marriage – in some cases involving girls as young as 6 or 8 – almost always results in the end of a girl’s schooling. The result is illiterate or barely literate young mothers without adequate tools to build healthy, educated families. On average, for every year a girl stays in school past fifth grade, her marriage is delayed a year. Educated girls typically marry later, when they are better able to bear and care for their children.
5.DECREASE POPULATION EXPLOSION: Educated women tend to have fewer (and healthier) babies. A 2000 study in Brazil found that literate women had an average of 2.5 children while illiterate women had an average of six children, according to UNESCO.
6.INCREASE INVOLVEMENT IN POLITICAL PROCESS: Educated women are more likely to participate in political discussions, meetings, and decision-making, which in turn promotes a more representative, effective government.
7.DECREASE DOMESTIC & SEXUAL VIOLENCE: Educated girls and women are less likely to be victims of domestic and sexual violence or to tolerate it in their families.
8.DECREASE SUPPORT FOR MILITANCY: As women become more educated, they are less likely to support militancy and terrorism than similarly educated men.
9.IMPROVE SOCIOECONOMIC GROWTH: Educated women have a greater chance of escaping poverty, leading healthier and more productive lives, and raising the standard of living for their children, families, and communities.
These and many more are some of the valuable reasons why we should all support education for girls. For every boy that is educated, every girl should be educated too.
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO IMPROVE GIRLS’ ACCESS TO EDUCATION?
According to UNICEF, experience in scores of countries shows the importance, among other things, of:
1.Parental and community involvement — Families and communities must be important partners with schools in developing curriculum and managing children’s education.
2.Low-cost and flexible timetables — Basic education should be free or cost very little. Where possible, there should be stipends and scholarships to compensate families for the loss of girls’ household labour. Also, school hours should be flexible so children can help at home and still attend classes.
3.Schools close to home, with women teachers — Many parents worry about girls travelling long distances on their own. Many parents also prefer to have daughters taught by women.
4.Preparation for school — Girls do best when they receive early childhood care, which enhances their self-esteem and prepares them for school.
5.Relevant curricula — Learning materials should be relevant to the girl’s background and be in the local language. They should also avoid reproducing gender stereotypes.
Malala Yousafzi, the Pakistani schoolgirl brought to England after being shot in the head by the Taliban, will address the United Nations today. She will mark her 16th birthday by delivering a speech at the UN headquarters in New York to call on governments to ensure free compulsory education for every child.
It will be the teenager’s first public speech since she was attacked on a bus in Pakistan’s north-western Swat valley after standing up for her right to go to school in her home country.
She will tell a delegation of more than 500 young people: “Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.
“One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”