Expanding Educational Opportunities for Girls Especially in the Developing World

It is hard to explain the vast significance of expanding the education opportunities for girls, especially in the developing world. Poverty, population, health, technology, etc. are all linked to the education of young people.

Some of the benefits of increasing educational opportunities for girls include increasing family income, later marriages, reduced fertility rates, reduced infant and mortality rates, better nourished and healthier children and families, greater opportunities and life choices for women. Many reports done by organizations like the World Bank show that limiting girl’s education can have drastic economic effects and can damage countries GDP exponentially. In some countries in the developing world up to 85% of the female population is being excluded from the job market. By excluding women from proper education and from the workplace, these developing countries suffer devastating effects. With that being said there has been many improvements over the past 50 years. In 1970, girls’ education rates in the developing world were as low as 38 %, but by 1992 they had risen to 68 %. There has been a great improvement in East Asia and South America but in some of the least developed parts of the world the secondary education rates are only 12%.This increase in education access for girls in the developing world is due to an increase in civil rights throughout the world. The developing world has seen an increase in women’s rights and access to higher education and therefore a more likely chance to obtain a place in the marketplace. A furthering of women’s civil rights in the developing world has been and always will be paired with the girls’ education in the developing world. 

Here is a graph that shows that the generations being born now and the generations of children that are youths, teenagers, and young adults have a higher rate of literacy.

new generation rate of literacy graph

It is this committee’s objective to identify the problems at hand and find adequate solutions for the problems. These problems include potential factors for cultures in certain areas in the developing world that this committee needs to tackle in order to solve the problems. Some of these factors may include differences in certain cultures attitudes towards the education of women. These factors should be seen as major issues to deal with in some areas of the world and in certain countries where there has been major religious/cultural objections to the advancement of the education of girls. Even if many people in the international community can’t see the human rights aspect of the problem of taking away education opportunities from girls and young women, many can see the economic aspect of it.

Let’s say that maybe only 60% of the female population of an area is receiving a proper education, which means that a whole 40% of the female population is not getting their skills used. It just does not make any sense to take such a large proportion of the population and take them out of the labour pool. If every child, male or female, in the world was given a proper education then every skill set in the would be made available, meaning that every possible perspective would be looked at, problems solved, inventions made, and businesses started. But instead the international community is letting quite the opposite happen. A lack of a proper education leads to many difficulties in being a productive world citizen and supplying something that can be beneficial to the economy.  The most common and most easily measurable skill that indicates level of education is literacy, as discussed above.

As of 2000 nearly 42% of the women in the Middle East and Northern Africa were illiterate, which is compared to only 22% of men being illiterate. These numbers have dramatically increased in recent years due to an effort of the international community.  As of 2011 many countries in the Middle East like Iran are up to a 15-year and older literacy rate of 85% and Iraq is up to a 15 year old and older rate of 78% (by 15 year and older rate I mean that is the percentage of those above the age of 15 that are literate). The fact that countries like Iran and Iraq have made such huge strides shows hope for the literacy rate at large but we must look deeper at what that literacy rate means, and how much it really affects girls and female education in the Middle East in general. Although the majority of the population in these countries is now literate does not necessarily mean that they are educated, and it does not mean that they have a formal education that is going to allow them to be successful in the world.

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Areas in the world that are of the biggest concern are areas in the Middle East where women, and even girls are subjected to confrontations for trying to pursue an education. In cultures like this in the Middle East, in some less developed parts of the world the communities have such great pressures on women that none ever attempt to gain an education.  In some parts of the world there are groups of women trying to make sure that young girls have a chance at an education that the women never had. Since 42% of girls in the developing are not enrolled in any form of schooling, there have been programs created to help these girls like Room to Read. Organizations like Room to Read set up programs for girls to obtain an education in the developing world by partnering with the local communities and parents. If a whole group of adolescent girls is given a disadvantage when it comes to education opportunities there can be drastic affects to the economy, as has been said before.

There are 600 million adolescent girls (age 10-24) and this group is one of the most rapidly growing in the developing world, which means that this group is one of the most viable but neglected groups.  The education of girls also vastly impacts the populations in the developing world because a girl that receives an education above 7th grade has 2.2 fewer children in her life. There are some great examples of countries and cultures turning things around, like in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan nearly 40% of the 5-million afghan children that were enrolled in the schools as of 2006 were girls.  That shows tremendous progress in a country that was once war torn and dominated by a culture that would be intolerable of such a thing. Expanding education opportunities can be seen and must be seen as one of the missions of the highest priorities.

Another great example of the international community working together to expand opportunities for girls is the situation in Bangladesh.  In Bangladesh the International Development Association (IDA) financed an education objective in 1993 called the Female Secondary School Assistance Program.  This program, along with contributions from other international organizations, has tripled the access to education both primary and secondary for girls in Bangladesh.  Nearly 2.8 more million girls were enrolled in secondary schools between 1991 and 2005. The contributions from the IDA since 1993 total up to nearly #185 million which were used in school programs, creation of schools, and other methods.

Another great organization that has invested itself in expanding education opportunities for girls is the MacArthur Foundation. The MacArthur Foundation gives the example of how in sub-Saharan Africa; there is a 77% enrolment rate in primary schools but only 36 % in secondary schools.  The MacArthur Foundation has the objective of providing grant-based aid in order to ensure that girls in the developing world’s have access to quality secondary education. The MacArthur Foundation is currently active in Uganda, Nigeria, and India and works with local communities and the government in order to start pilot programs and schools for girls in these countries. This organization is a perfect example of the kind of organizations that everyone should be looking into as part of a solution for expanding education opportunities for girls in the developing world. As soon as every member of the population of the countries in the developing world has access to proficient education opportunities, every kind of opportunity in these countries can expand for everybody. Although the overall focus of the committee is really the expansion of education opportunities for girls in the developing world, it should be the goal of the world to expand opportunities for everyone.

There are approximately 775.4 million illiterate adults in the world, with 64.1 % of that population being females. The fact that there are a higher percentage of illiterate female adults in the world shows that it is a problem within the mindsets of the education systems throughout the world.  Although literacy is not the perfect test of a proper education, it is a great signifier for the condition of the rest of the problem of education opportunity.  The problem with looking at the education problems in the world is that it is hard to look at specific measurable problems.  For example, even if girls are shown to be receiving some type of formal schooling, that schooling may only be preparing them for a life of being a wife/mother.  This is true in many developing countries where we can see the amount of women receiving a secondary or collegiate is not where it should be.

To look at the issue of education in the developing world, specifically for girls, we must look closer at the aspects of the society that surround education.  In the world there are 31 million girls that are currently in no type of formal schooling, and therefore are being denied even a chance at education and a life outside of being a wife/mother.

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About the Author
Author: Anant Mishra
Anant Mishra is a former youth representative United Nations.Almost 4 years of experience, he has served in number of committees including United Nations Conference for Trade and Development and Economic and Social Council primarily focusing on international trade, finance, economics. food crisis and disputes. Currently he is serving as a Mentor & a Member for the organising committee of Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2014. He is also the state convener, chhattisgarh for a nation wide think tank, Centre for Education Growth and Research, New Delhi. Beside this he is an editor, foreign affairs for political mirror, columnist for business digest and iReporter for the CNN. He is also an author for the Indian Economic Review, an yearly journal for Delhi School of Economics.

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