Girls’ education: towards a
better future for all
Cover photo: A schoolgirl in Surinam. (© Ron Giling/Still Pictures)
Girls’ education: towards
a better future for all
Published by the Department for International Development
by the Secretary of State for International Development
‘To be educated means… I will not only be able to help myself, but also my family, my country, my people. The benefits will be many.’
MEDA WAGTOLE, SCHOOLGIRL, ETHIOPIA
At the turn of the millennium, the international community promised that by 2005, there would be as many girls as boys in school. Later this year, when leaders from around the world come together to take stock of the Millennium Development Goals, there will be no escaping the fact that we have collectively failed to keep this promise. Despite much progress, a child without an education is still much more likely to be a girl than a boy.
This strategy is a first step to get us back on track. It acknowledges that we all need to do substantially more to help girls get into school. It reminds us of the value of education for lifting nations out of instability and providing a more promising future to their people. And regardless of whether they live in a wealthy or poor country, nothing has as much impact on a child’s future wellbeing as their mother’s level of education. We do not need complex international negotiations to help solve the problem of education. We just need to listen to governments, local communities, children, parents and teachers who know what challenges remain. And we need to provide them with enough funding to put their ideas on education into practice.
To this end, we plan to spend at least £1.4 billion over the next three years. This money will provide additional support to governments and more resources to strengthen international efforts to coordinate action on girls’ education. The example set by countries like Malawi, where the Minister for Education announced free schooling and immediately increased enrolment rates, shows just what can be achieved when there is a clearly defined plan of action and enough political will to implement it. In 2005, the UK will hold the Presidencies of the G8 and the EU. We will use our leadership role to make achieving gender parity in education a priority for the international community.
Girls’ education: towards a better future for all
As Meda Wagtole’s words make clear, keeping our promise on girls’ education will not just give girls better prospects; it holds the key to giving their families, communities and countries a better future as well.
Rt Hon Hilary Benn, MP
Education is a right – but it is still beyond the reach of many
A timely strategy
What prevents girls from getting a quality education?
Educating girls is costly for families
Girls may face a poor and hostile school environment
Women have a weak position in society
Conflict hurts girls most
Tackling girls’ education on the ground
Making girls’ education affordable
Making schools work for all girls
Charities, religious and other voluntary organisations are good for girls
Supporting policies that work
Focusing international efforts on girls’ education
More resources are needed
Donor actions in support of country-led development
International organisations need to work together for girls’ education
Civil society’s role in building global momentum and local support 5.
Political leadership and empowerment of women matter
Tackling social exclusion
Towards a better future for all
There are still 58 million girls worldwide who are not in school. The majority...
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