A Fair Chance: Attaining gender equality in basic education by 2005 | Gender Inequality | Millennium Development Goals

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The main purpose of this report is to inform campaigning and advocacy work in the North and South on girls’ education. The report highlights the progress that has been made in reducing gender gaps in education in the developing world and the size of the challenge that remains. It has been coordinated by three member organisations of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE): Oxfam International, ActionAid, and ASPBAE (Asian-South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education), with additional assistance from FAWE (Forum of African Women Educationalists) and funding from the UK Department for International Development.
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  Introduction2 Report objectives5Report structure6 1.How big are the Education Gender Gaps?7 Enrolment ratios8Educational attainment11Learning outcomes14Progress since Jomtien15 2.Why do fewer girls go to school?19 Son preference19Early marriage21School is too expensive22School is not compulsory23Girls have too much to do at home24Government schools are too few and too far25Schools fail to motivate or encourage girls26Schools fail to protect the basic rights and dignity ofgirls28 3.What has been done to close the gender gap?29 Taking women and education seriously29Mainstreaming gender within EFA strategies31Priority measures32Free primary education for all33Parental incentives to educate girls34Ensuring girls’safety and dignity at school37Community schools39Involving communities41Establishing bridging programmes41Involving and nurturing gender advocates42Promoting early childhood education and care42 4.Beyond rhetoric:Making gender equality ineducation a reality43 Setting clear operational targets43Sizing up the challenge44What must be done?451) End the education queue2) Offer extra help for poor families to keep girls in school3) Launch a rescue plan for schools in poor communities4) Encourage a range ofeducation provision5) Engage with civil society6) Break the glass ceiling7) Counter the impact ofHIV/AIDS8) Invest more in girls References and Bibliography50Annex 1:Recommendations from the country studies53 Cambodia53Ethiopia55India56Malawi58Mali60Nepal62Nigeria64Pakistan66 Annex 2:Additional tables67Tables and Figures (overview) Table 1:GER gender gaps for primary education 1999/20009Table 2:GER gender gaps for secondary education 1999/200010Table 3:GER gender gaps for primary education among the case study countries 1990–200015Table 4:GER gender gaps for secondary education among the case study countries 1990–200016Table 5:Change in the primary and secondary education gender parity index by region 1990–200016Table 6:Key constraints affecting girls’education – a view from India19Table 7:What poor girls in rural India do before and after school23Table 8:Gender Interventions,level ofeffort33Table 9:Priority Gender Interventions45Figure 1:The MDGs:Unfinished Business4Figure 2:Adult literacy rates in the case study countries,20008Figure 3:Gender parity index 1999–20008Figure 4:Education attainment among 15–19 year olds in the case study countries12Figure 5:Education attainment by grade among 15–19 year olds in Cambodia,Ethiopia,India and Malawi in 1999/200013Figure 6:Degree ofgender inequality with respect to basic education in developing countries14Figure 7:Change in GER gender gap among the case study countries1990–1999/200015Figure 8:Change in educational attainment among 15–19 year olds in four case study countries17Figure 9:Reasons for never attending/dropping out ofschool among 6–17 year olds in India,199924Figure 10:Reasons for never attending/dropping out ofschool among 6–17 year olds in Nigeria,199924Figure 11:Women teachers as a percentage oftotal primary schoolteachers,1990 to 1999/200026Figure 12:Target percentage increase in girl intakes to primary school by 200544Figure 13:Target female net enrolment rates to meet the 2005 and 2015 education MDGs44 Contents  “I am now in Grade two. I am 15 years old and have beenmarried twice, at the ages of 10 and 12. I did not stay with my second husband. My cousin advised me to go to school. I am the first child in my family and have three sisters and twobrothers. I like my lessons, I stood seventh among 120students. My younger sister was married, but because of my advice she now goes to school. My parents are not really willing to send me to school. Nevertheless, I want to continueand will advise other girls to do the same.”  – T ADFE T SEGA , E THIOPIA Three years ago, at the World Education Forum atDakar, the international community re-affirmed itscommitment to eliminating gender inequality inbasic education provision throughout the world.Governments promised to:  Ensure that by 2015 all children have access to, andcomplete, free education of good quality.  Eliminate gender disparities in primary andsecondary education by 2005, and achieve gender equality in education by 2015, with a focuson ensuring girls’ full and equal access to, andachievement in, basic good quality education. At the UN’s Millennium Summit, heads of stateadopted these targets as two of the eight MillenniumDevelopment Goals for reducing world poverty (see Figure 1).There is universal recognition of the paramountimportance of ensuring that all children, both girlsand boys, receive a basic education of at least eightyears and of an acceptable quality. The education of girls has been recognised for several decades as afundamental human right and a developmentalnecessity. Nevertheless, large gender disparities inenrolment and learning achievements persist.Eradicating these disparities is well within the powerand spending capacity of the world’s governments.Failure to do so constitutes a massive denial of thebasic human rights of tens of millions of girls in thedeveloping world.Despite individual success stories, very largeinequalities still exist in the majority of developingcountries, and the rate of progress needs to acceleratefour-fold to achieve the gender equity goal. At thispace, the gender gap in primary education will not beclosed until 2025, and Africa will not get all girls (andboys) into primary school for another 100 years(UNDP and UNICEF 2002). It is therefore essentialthat decisive action is taken by governments, civilsociety organisations and bilateral and multilateralagencies, to get girls into school.Failure to educate girls is also holding back the wider push to halve global poverty by 2015. Education not only provides basic knowledge andskills to improve health and livelihoods, but itempowers women to take their rightful place insociety and the development process. Education giveswomen the status and confidence to influencehousehold decisions. Women who have been toschool tend to marry later and have smaller families.Their children are also better nourished and are farmore likely to do well at school. By contrast, thechildren of women who have never received aneducation are 50 per cent more likely to suffer frommalnutrition or to die before the age of five (UNFPA 2002). Educating women is the key tobreaking the cycle of poverty.Because education is so crucial to improving healthand increasing incomes, the girls’ education goal hasa domino effect on all of the other MillenniumDevelopment Goals. Failure to achieve it will set us upfor almost certain failure on the other MDGs.Eliminating gender gaps in rural and urban primaryschool intake is a minimum threshold that must be 2 Introduction  achieved by 2005. If this timeline is allowed to slip, itwill become impossible to achieve universal primaryeducation by 2015. And, as UNDP has warned, if wefail to achieve UPE by 2015, the already uncertainprospects of attaining the other MDGs will dwindlebeyond the vanishing point (Vandemoortele 2002;See Figure 1 on next page).In order to achieve the goal of universal completion of primary education by 2015, it is necessary for alleligible children, both girls and boys, to start primaryschool on time by 2009/10, and to complete theprimary cycle five or six years later. A generalisedexpansion of primary education is necessary but notsufficient to meet these targets, since girls facegender-specific discrimination and disadvantage atevery step along the way. Action must be taken now toremove these barriers. However, no country is so far behind on girls’enrolment that it could not at least eliminate gendergaps in rural and urban school intake by 2005. Thiswould enable all countries to reach parity betweengirls and boys throughout the primary cycle by 2011,and to stay on track for universal primary education(UPE) by 2015. The UPE goal also requires that theschool completion rate is 100 per cent for all childrenby 2015, so concerted efforts must be made, startingnow, to eliminate the gender gaps in rural and urbancompletion rates (and thus dropout rates) across allgrades. Eliminating differences in learningachievements between girls and boys is also essential,and all countries should set clear targets for this. In order to meet the MDG education goals, richcountries would need to provide $5.6 bn per year.This may sound like a lot of money, but it’s less thanthree days of global military spending, and about thesame as what American parents spend on Barbie dollsfor their daughters every year. Aid needs to bespecifically targeted at countries where genderinequalities are greatest and where enrolments areparticularly low.With some 88 countries off track, the loomingprospect of failure has caused some commentators todismiss the 2005 gender equality target as unrealisticand over-ambitious. But the striking successesachieved by some of the world’s poorest countriesprove otherwise. As this report will document, manycountries, including most of those in our study, havemade dramatic progress in reducing gender 3 Box 1:Education Can Save Your Life Education saves lives by giving women the confidence and power to make better choices for themselves and their children.  In much ofSouth Asia,women typically eat last and eat least.During pregnancy,this has disastrous consequences:highmaternal and infant mortality,and low birth weight,which can cause serious health complications throughout the rest of the life cycle.Bangladeshi women with at least a fifth grade education are more likely to increase their food intake when theyare pregnant – not just because they know they should,but because they are better able to influence household decisions.  In Sub-Saharan Africa,HIV/AIDS infection rates have been falling dramatically among women with at least a secondaryeducation – not just because they have better knowledge ofhow to prevent transmission,but because they have the statusand confidence to assert their rights.In 17 countries in Africa and four in Latin America,better-educated girls tended todelay having sex,and were more likely to require their partners to use condoms.Since young women in Africa are up to fivetimes more vulnerable to HIV infection than young men,denying them access to education may literally cost them their lives.Sources:Jejeebhoy,S.J.1995. Women’s Education,Autonomy,and Reproductive Behaviour:Experiences from DevelopingCountries. Oxford:Clarendon Press.Karim,R. et al .2002,‘Determinants ofFood Consumption During Pregnancy in RuralBangladesh:Examination ofEvaluative Data from the Bangladesh Integrated Nutrition Project.’Tufts University,Food Policyand Applied Nutrition Programme,Discussion Paper no.11,July 29.World Bank 2002, Education and HIV-AIDS:A window of hope. UNAIDS 2000, Report on the Global HIV-AIDS Epidemic .New York:UNAIDS.  inequality and expanding overall access at both theprimary and secondary school levels during the lastdecade. There is no practical reason why otherscannot emulate their success if both governments anddonors are ready to commit the resources andleadership needed. The problem is not over-ambition,but lack of ambition. While most countries can point to a plethora of gender equity initiatives, too often these add up to ascatter-shot patchwork of ‘girls’ projects’ rather than acomprehensive package of interventions backed byclear policy aims. A lack of country leadership, thecompeting and changeable priorities of aid donors,and reluctance to allocate more than token resources,all share part of the blame. But if the dismal progressrates in many countries have any lesson to teach, it isthat even the best initiatives make little impact asstand-alone interventions. This was neatly illustratedby a story from one of our case study countries, wherea laudable initiative to provide separate latrines forgirls has resulted in the construction of many toilets,which unfortunately are almost all kept permanentlylocked by the headteachers. Gender inequality in education, like gender inequalityin the wider society, has multiple causes, which tendto keep reinforcing one another unless integratedefforts are made to tackle all of them. Contrary toconventional wisdom, parents’ resistance is seldomthe most important factor behind low femaleenrolments. Studies have shown that parents arequick to recognise the importance of education forgirls in today’s changing world. But their desire tosend their daughters to school is often quashed byfactors such as prohibitive costs of schooling, failureto protect girls from sexual harassment and abuse inor on the way to school, and failure to provide anadequate number of classrooms and school placeswithin a distance that is socially acceptable for girls to 4 Figure 1:The MDGs:Unfinished Business Source:UNDP PovertyHIV/AIDSChild MortalityBasic educationGender MalnutritionMaternal mortalitySafe Water 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Achieved To be achieved
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