FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Girls’ Education is Key To Alleviate Poverty

by

Inequality and unequal access to education holds millions of girls and women back across the world. While the “gender gap” in education has narrowed over the past decade, girls are still at a disadvantage, particularly in getting access to high school education. And women still constitute two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population.

This gender gap is generally wider at higher levels of schooling. According to some estimates, women in South Asia, for example, have only half as many years of education as men, and female enrollment rates at the high-school level are two-thirds that of males.

Within countries, gender disparity is greater among the poor, and in some countries the disparity continues among the poor even after they have disappeared among the wealthier sectors of the population. To be a girl from a poor family thus becomes a double disadvantage. In addition, gender bias – approaches to teaching and the degree of attention from teachers – puts girls at a further disadvantage.

Overall access to basic education has risen markedly over the past decade in many developing countries. In spite of that poor children are still less likely to attend school or be enrolled in school and more likely to repeat grades than those who come from wealthier families.

There is widespread agreement that primary school education should become universal early this century, but the differences in educational attendance and attainment according to economic status show that the poor are less likely to achieve this goal than those better off economically.

There are several reasons to explain this gap. It is harder for poor children to have easy access to schools, because schools tend to be concentrated in cities and areas where only better-off families live. Physical availability of schools, though, is not the most critical factor in most developing countries. It is important to consider not only national averages, but also how poor girls in rural areas are faring.

Although expenditures on education have increased over the past few decades in many countries, unless these resources are specifically addressed to those most vulnerable, they will tend to increase disparities rather than decrease them.

Disparities in attaining education have been attributed to ineffective school systems. Governments tend to spend less on public primary and high school education – the type of schooling that tends to benefit the poor most – during economic crises. Wars, civil conflicts, economic disruptions and epidemics alter services and affect school attendance. All these problems are likely to have a greater effect on the poor.

Elimination of gender bias in education is particularly important when the level of education of parents is linked to their children’s educational attainment. Several studies have shown that educating mothers is more important than educating fathers to increase the chances of their children’s success.

In addition, a great deal of evidence shows the benefits of women’s schooling not only for their children’s to attain education, but also for their health, nutrition and survival. Immunization rates among children of educated mothers, for example, have been consistently higher than those of uneducated mothers.

Educated girls can develop essential life skills, including self-confidence, the ability to participate effectively in society, and the capacity to better protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and sexual exploitation. In addition, several studies have shown that educated women not only have fewer children but also have better economic prospects themselves. Girls’ education not only empowers them, but also is considered the best investment in a country’s development.

Several factors indicate that special attention must be paid to the poor. Poor women are more likely to die during pregnancy or at childbirth. Increased expenditures on education for the poorer sections of society yields better returns in productivity, income and economic growth. In contrast, inequality in the distribution of education has held down economic growth and per capita income in many countries.

Taking measures to alleviate poverty has become an urgent global priority. And one of the best ways to reduce poverty is to increase the educational level of the poor, particularly the girls among them.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 24, 2017
Paul Street
Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics
Daniel Read
Powder Keg: Manchester Terror Attack Could Lead to Yet Another Resurgence in Nationalist Hate
Robert Fisk
When Peace is a Commodity: Trump in the Middle East
Kenneth Surin
The UK’s Epochal Election
Jeff Berg
Lessons From a Modern Greek Tragedy
Steve Cooper
A Concrete Agenda for Progressives
Michael McKinley
Australia-as-Concierge: the Need for a Change of Occupation
William Hawes
Where Are Your Minds? An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU
Steve Early
“Corporate Free” Candidates Move Up
Fariborz Saremi
Presidential Elections in Iran and the Outcomes
Dan Bacher
The Dark Heart of California’s Water Politics
Alessandra Bajec
Never Ending Injustice for Pinar Selek
Rob Seimetz
Death By Demigod
Jesse Jackson
Venezuela Needs Helping Hand, Not a Hammer Blow 
Binoy Kampmark
Return to Realpolitik: Trump in Saudi Arabia
Vern Loomis
The NRA: the Dragon in Our Midst
May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail