Providing girls with access to primary and secondary education is key to eliminating poverty - Plan Canada report
CANADA, Oct. 11, 2012 /CNW/ - A major global report released today from Plan International, one of the world's oldest and largest international development agencies, highlights a crisis in access to education for girls and draws important parallels between successfully completing at least nine years of quality education and breaking the cycle of poverty.
The report - The State of the World's Girls 2012: Learning for Life, released in conjunction with the first-ever International Day of the Girl, illustrates how poverty, violence and gender discrimination prevent girls from transitioning to secondary education where they learn many critical life skills beyond those learned in primary school.
Previous Plan reports have indicated that approximately 75 million school-age girls worldwide are out of school and have also shown that when money is tight, parents in poorer households and countries are less likely to spend scarce resources on their daughters' education or will remove them from the classroom after only a few years.
More specifically, the 2012 global report finds that only 74 per cent of girls between the ages of 11 and 15 are in school - compared to 83 per cent of boys. As the report highlights, many girls in developing countries are married by the age of 15 and up to half become mothers before they turn 18. These girls carry the burden of household chores rather than spending time in school. Beyond economic barriers, girls are more likely to experience violence and sexual abuse both in the classroom and on the way to school.
Plan Canada President and CEO Rosemary McCarney asserts that it's not just about getting girls into school that matters but also what and how they learn when they get there. "A quality secondary school education is fundamental in today's global economy," she says. "By quality education for girls we mean not only the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but an education that is relevant to girls' rights, needs, and aspirations; that is delivered in a safe school environment, and that uses teaching methods and curriculum that are free from gender bias and that actively promote gender equality."
Primary school enrolment is not enough
The report emphasizes a disturbing trend of girls falling off the roadmap to secondary education after only a few years in primary school, citing that girls need at least nine years of quality education, combining both primary and secondary grades, to succeed. While primary education provides basic literacy and numeracy skills for all children and is a key priority for the current global Millennium Development Goals, secondary education is where children begin to apply knowledge and learn skills which are important for later school and life opportunities.
The transition to secondary school is especially critical for girls as Plan research has also shown that a girl who obtains a quality primary and secondary education is:
- More likely to be literate, stay healthy and survive into adulthood
- More likely to reinvest her income back into her family, community and country
- More likely to marry later or have fewer children while she is still herself a child
- More likely to understand her rights and be a force for social change against violence and discrimination.
How does this compare to Canada?
- In developing countries, violence is a significant barrier to education. In contrast, according to a recent survey commissioned by Plan Canada, 65 per cent of parents polled ranked having a good teacher as one of the top three worries about their daughter's ability to complete grade nine.
- In the same survey, one third (34 per cent) of parents polled think the primary reason their daughter wants to go to school is to be with her friends and 29 per cent believe it's to develop skills that will get her a job in the future. Whereas the Learning for Life report highlighted that many girls in developing countries go to school to so they can develop and learn the necessary skills to pull their families out of poverty and become equal and active citizens within their community.
Girls' education must be made a top priority
One of the key recommendations of the report is that girls' education be made a top priority on the global agenda, with a specific focus on seeing more girls transition from primary to secondary school and beyond.
"Education for girls is not sufficient on its own for social change - it's a collective responsibility," adds McCarney. "Girls need the support of their families, boys, men, communities, employers and governments if they are going to be able to realize the potential they undoubtedly have to contribute economically, socially, and equally to the society we live in."
To view the full report, visit: www.becauseiamagirl.ca/2012GirlReport
About Plan and the 'Because I am a Girl' initiative
Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world's oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan has only one agenda: to improve the lives of children. Because I am a Girl is Plan's global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls' rights and lift millions of girls - and everyone around them - out of poverty. Visit www.plancanada.ca and www.becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.
About the Canadian survey
From September 26 to September 28, 2012, an online survey was conducted among 812 randomly selected Canadians who are also Angus Reid Forum panel members and parents of daughter's ages six to 14 years old. The margin of error - which measures sampling variability - is +/- 3.4%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
SOURCE: Plan Canada
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