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Education Access for Girls: Plotting Progress in Developing Nations

Girls Compose 2/3 of All Children Excluded from School

Girls compose 2/3 of all the children excluded from basic education in the world. Often girls do not attend school due to the lack of schools and quality education, domestic labor and other forms of child labor, and a general attitude that girls should not be educated.

The World Bank, United Nations agencies, and development organizations have identified the education of girls as the key factor to economic and social development.

Education is a human right cited in several international treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified by every nation except the United States and Somalia) states that education is a right that must be achieved "on the basis of equal opportunity."

Education can not be improved without addressing root inequities. Universal, quality public education for girls can and must be achieved. UNICEF has identified seven steps to assuring girls' education"

  1. Access and quality in education are inseparable.

  2. Gender discrimination is deeply rooted throughout education systems. To ensure that all girls participate and learn, it is essential that systemic gender bias be eliminated.

  3. Girls’ education is not just a matter of concern to educators--it is everybody’s business. There are economic and social costs to not educating girls.

  4. Partner advocates including girls, families, and community members make a difference in implementing girls’ education.

  5. Girls’ education is complex; interventions must take into account these complexities, such as a family’s loss of a girl’s labor or income when a girl goes to school.

  6. Resources are critical; improving the education system for girls in investments in the system of education, thus benefiting boys also.

  7. Effective gathering and analysis of data, desegregated by gender, supports effective decision making for improving girls’ lives through education.


Source: Education for All 2000 Assessment: Girls’ Education (Draft), written by Karin Hyde for UNICEF, April 2000.