A LEARNING GAP
Even though most countries provide primary education:
• 31 million girls of primary school age globally do not attend school.26
• 17 million of these girls are never expected to attend school.27
In some countries, the raw numbers are staggering:
• In Nigeria, 5 million girls are not in school 28
• In Pakistan, over 3 million girls are not attending school.29
Even when girls do attend primary school, they drop out at higher rates than boys,30 accelerating the “learning gap” between boys and girls.
• 34 million girls and young women globally are not enrolled in secondary school.31
• In conflict-countries, 90% of adolescent girls are more likely to be out of secondary school than adolescent girls in non-conflict countries.32
Lack of schooling has a long-term spillover impact.33
• Two-thirds of the 774 million adults who are illiterate are women, a proportion that has remained unchanged for decades.34
All-girls schools can make a difference. A recent U.S. study found that students in all-girls public schools have increased their educational scores, particularly in math and science.35 Examples include the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin, Texas, and the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem, New York.36
There are also examples of girl-focused schools across the globe. In Kenya, the Kakenya Centers for Excellence, created by the non-profit organization Kakenya’s Dream, takes a girl-centered approach to education.37 Alumni receive mentoring, scholarships, tutoring, career advice, and assistance applying to universities around the world. As a condition of enrollment, parents must agree their daughters won’t be subjected to female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) or forced into marriage.
Situated in a part of Kenya where 80% of Maasai girls leave school by age 12, nearly 80% undergo FGM/C, and over 50% marry before age 19.38 Kakenya’s Dream has so far educated over 500 girls at their boarding schools, supported more than 200 girls continuing on to high school and university, and trained nearly 14,000 boys, girls, and community members on issues of health and human rights. All of the girls finish school, none of them undergo FGM/C, and none of them are married as children.39 The organization’s founder, Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya, is from the 10,000-person village where the school and the other programs are located. An educator and activist who survived FGM/C and escaped an arranged child-marriage, she is the first woman from her community to attend college in the U.S.
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