Educating girls is really, really important.
Here’s one reason: The World Bank says that when a developing nation increases the number of women with a secondary education, the nation’s per capita income grows too.
Want more reasons? Try improved health and enhanced security for women and their families.
The last decade’s seen more girls in developing countries attend primary school — 87 percent now do. But fewer than 4 in 10 graduate from secondary school.
How can we get more young women to stay in school?
1. Put schools where girls can get to them
In rural areas, schools are often far from girls’ homes. A UNICEF study found that more than twice as many Egyptian girls attended school when the schoolhouse was within 1 kilometer of their home, as opposed to 3 kilometers.
2. Keep female students safe
Girls who must travel long distances to school are vulnerable to harassment or even attack. And where female education is discouraged, girls can be subjected to intimidation even in and around their classrooms. Communities that work to keep girls safe at school improve their educational outcomes.
3. Train teachers to beware of stereotypes
Sometimes teachers and textbooks reinforce the idea that girls are less intelligent than boys or only show images of girls and women as household workers and caregivers. Teachers trained to counteract stereotypes help girls discover opportunities. And when a school employs a significant number of female teachers, it lessens discrimination against girls and provides role models for them.
4. Ease the workload at home
Women do most of the household work in the developing world. That’s why so many girls are kept home from school. Spreading the burden of chores across all members of the family helps girls succeed.
5. Don’t let menstruation stop education
In many developing nations, especially in rural areas, girls don’t attend school during their periods because they don’t have access to sanitary pads or running water. In Uganda, the female speaker of parliament has led a campaign to make sanitary pads more widely available — and help keep girls in school.