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September 21, 2020

Educating girls

Editorial

 
September 21, 2020

At a side event of the UN General Assembly, Malala Yousafzai has warned that Covid-19 has setback the goal of educating women, saying that as many as 20 million girls may not return to schools even after the Covid-19 crisis is over. The question of access to education for girls remains a challenge for the world with significant gaps still remaining between the educational attainment of boys and girls in the developing world. The issue of access also remains one which exists across the developing world. South Asia is among these regions even though it has taken big steps forward in ensuring education for girls. However, a significant gap remains and it will take time to bridge this. Strategies need to be developed to determine how this can most effectively be achieved.

Attention needs to given to the discrimination against girls in education. At the primary school level, there is relative equality in the proportion of school-attending girls and boys but there are steep drops at every secondary school level as less importance is given to the educational needs of girls. This naturally makes it more difficult for women to find employment and restricts their choices to that of homemaker or unskilled labour. For this, schools, notably those at the secondary level, must be within reach of girls particularly those who live in rural or less developed areas with no means of transportation to school. It is also true that families consider spending money on the education of a girl a waste of resources given the constraints they face.

This needs to be amended by finding ways to offer girls and all children education that has meaning for them at costs that are manageable. Ideally, we should be rebuilding public sector education. However, this is likely to be a long and difficult task given the decline we have seen. In this situation, mechanisms need to be developed to offer girls education at costs which are manageable for their families. This education should also be geared towards building their future and helping them meet the needs they will encounter in their lives. An entire plan would need to be evolved but given the findings in many countries of how much benefit educated women can bring families it is worth working towards this goal so that our needs can be met and the gender gap that currently exists in education can be closed.