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Getting girls into high schools

May 01, 2009

World Bank’s latest report Educating Girls in the 21st Century highlights the gender disparities at the level of secondary education. Linking the issue with economic development, the report advocates interventions like scholarships and female teacher recruitment to increase enrollment of the girls.

Educating Girls in the 21st Century: Gender Equality, Empowerment and Economic Growth

Publisher: World Bank, March 2009

The quality of education not educational attainment determines the economic success of individuals and economies. Girls’ education is a key to lasting development. Women’s economic empowerment is essential for economic development, growth, and poverty reduction—not only because of the income it generates, but also because it helps to break the vicious cycle of poverty,” they write.

However gender differences are now widely visible at the level of secondary education. Achieving gender equality would require investing in the education of both girls and boys, while maintaining a balance between them.

Girl’s education and development

The report shows that a year of schooling for girls reduces infant mortality by five to 10 percent. Children of mothers with five years of primary education are 40 percent more likely to live beyond age 5.When the proportion of women with secondary schooling doubles, the fertility rate is reduced from 5.3 to 3.9 children per woman. Providing girls with an extra year of schooling increases their wages by 10 to 20 percent.

Making girls’ education a high priority and implementing a range of interventions—including scholarships, stipends, conditional cash transfers, female teacher recruitment, and gender- targeted provision of materials—have proved effective in increasing the enrollment of girls in school.

Key messages

  • There remains a strong business case for investing in female education
  • The returns to female education are the largest, and gender disparities the widest, at the secondary level
  • Educational quality, not completion rates alone
  • Education systems in developing countries are failing to reach large numbers of  children
  • Gender disparities intensify the impact of structural impediments to education.
  • The solution to gender inequality requires a multi-sectoral strategy that addresses education as well as law, health, agriculture, and infrastructure

The findings of the report highlight some interventions that have worked in improving girls’ education:

  • Eliminating user fees and providing stipends and conditional cash transfers to girls
  • Advocacy and better impact evaluation research
  • Addressing cultural and social constraints to girls’ education
  • Improve the economic returns to female education, such as raising education standards and quality
  • Promote post primary education for girls
  • Genderise post basic education to improve national economic competitiveness
  • Develop and disseminate gender-sensitive school and pedagogy models
Source : World Bank
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