A few years ago we wrote the below blog to raise awareness to the existing barriers girls face to attaining an education. Unfortunately, 6 years later many of these barriers still exist. We thought it was pertinent that we share these facts with you again and how we are working to break these barriers.
We remain committed to removing the barriers girls face to their right to an education.
Did you know that for every 100 boys of primary school age who are out of school, there are 123 girls denied the right to education?
In the words of Michelle Obama ‘’When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous”
So why are there over 60 million girls around the world not in school or able to complete their education? There are many factors that can hinder a girl from attaining full education and we are working to focus on a few key areas and doing what we can to make a difference:
1. Education is too expensive
In many rural areas, there may not be any direct school fees to pay but there is often a price parents have to pay by sending their child to school. These often include the cost of school uniforms, books, stationary, transport as well as the opportunity cost of missing out on labour opportunities and support around the home.
For some families, if the cost of education is too high, parents will choose to send the boys’ to school, leaving girls’ to be neglected from having an opportunity to receive an education which they equally deserve.
At our centres we work to help all children, boys and girls alike, who may be unable to go to school by supporting with funding to those that cannot afford fees or equipping them with school uniforms and textbooks to ensure they don’t miss out on an education due to a lack of funds.
2. Schools are too far
Access to good schools can often be a struggle for families living in remote areas, with living closer to a town or city being not being an affordable option for parents. With limited transportation facilities, children are left with no choice but to walk for hours just to reach school. To add to the struggle, with gender norms in the societies we live in, parents sometimes opt to keep their girls at home to protect them from dangers which she may encounter on her way to school.
Where distance is a problem we look to alternative housing, residential schools or hostels.
We support a number of residential schools, such as our Bhuj and Manali project. Our project in Bilimora is a hostel for children from the tribal regions to live so that they can attend local governmental schools.
3. Safety and security is a concern
The journey to school is not the only safety reason parents are sometimes reluctant to send girls’ to school. It can also be violence or mistreatment faced at school from teachers, peers or other people in the school. Although situations are improving, there are still cases where what should be a refuge for any child, is not.
Each of our supported centres have a safeguarding policy that they adhere to. This states that each child is protected from maltreatment and the child’s health and development are a priority. We ensure that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care and we focus specifically on enabling all children to have the best outcomes.
4. Cultural norms and expectations
In many rural communities it is often a cultural norm for girls to be forced to stay at home to contribute to household duties such as fetching water, cooking, looking after younger siblings other household chores rather than going to school. Here she loses decision making ability and power which would come with an education.
We have worked with local communities and outreach workers to educate families to encourage them to send their daughters to school. There have been cases where girls have been removed from schools due to reaching puberty. We are working to ensure this does not happen through the education and provision of female sanitation.
When there is poverty, even more basic needs come first, water, food and basic health. If these can not be addressed it becomes very difficult for the child to attend school. However many organisations overcome this by ensuring the child gets clean water, a meal and health checks when they attend school.
We work with our centres to ensure that if required they provide food in the morning and afternoon to ensure the child is not distracted by hunger and can focus on learning. We also encourage regular health checks.
Our core ethos is that no child should ever forego their education due to lack of funds. We regularly ensure that the centres and schools we support do not turn away any child on the basis of funding.
6. Early marriage and pregnancy
When young girls are forced into early marriage, they are often pulled from school as soon as they reach pubescent age. They then move in with their husband and although illegal, teen pregnancies are not uncommon. How can a young girl manage a household, a pregnancy, young children and an education? Education is the easy and only choice to sacrifice.
One extra year of schooling can increase an individual’s earnings by up to 10%, this can have far reaching impacts. Help us to bring this opportunity to around the world.
Let’s breakdown the barriers to girls education together.
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