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Girls' education barriers and solutions

Education is one of the most important investments a country can make for its people and its future. It is critical to reducing poverty and inequality. The high education level a country has, the more progress it can realize in all aspects. Egypt like many developing countries has a high level of poverty, 25.2 percent in 2010/11(World Bank), which means a lot of consequences, ignorance, misleading beliefs, gender based violence low sanitary level, high level of children mortality. ‘‘Although only a little over half of the population lives in rural areas, more than 78% of the poor and 80% of the extreme poor live there. These income disparities are reinforced by the gaps in social indicators, where virtually all health indicators and literacy rates are worse in Upper Egypt than in Lower Egypt and worse in rural areas than in urban areas. Illiteracy rates among young women in Upper Egypt are 24 percent, twice the rates of their male counterparts.’’ World Bank For girls living in poverty, every stage of life can be a struggle as they don’t enjoy the same education, choices and opportunities as boys. But why girls, in specific are the most who are influenced by the poverty of a country?

In fact girls face many challenges when living in a poor community. It's not only Egypt that has many reasons why girls miss out school. Below are some of the challenges girls face that prevent them from attending schools.
1. Many families are unable to meet the costs of putting their children through school; as a result they are forced to choose who to send to school. Mostly, it is the girl that is kept back. Boys are seen as the future breadwinners of the family. Many believe that girls are better-off if married early and will be more financially secure with a husband. So, many adolescent girls around the world are subject to early forced marriages, often with men who are considerably older than them. This brings extra responsibilities for girls, including more household tasks and childcare, leaving little or no time for education.
2. Because education of girls is not the priority, girls may face sexual and non-sexual violence from men around. When girls reach puberty, many will face an increased threat of abuse and violence, including sexual harassment, incest and female genital mutilation. This can result in both physical and mental trauma, loss of self-esteem, low attendance, high-dropout rates and under-performance. A World Bank study in Ecuador found more than one in five adolescent girls had been victims of sexual abuse at school.
3. Lack of enough school places, force children to travel long distances to reach their schools, especially in rural communities. This makes parents less likely to allow daughters to attend schools due to issues of safety and security.
4. Girls may not feel school is a safe or secure environment if, for instance, there are no separate toilets for boys and girls. Often, girls do not attend school during menstruation because of a lack of clean, safe and private sanitation facilities.
5. Ignorance about the importance of educating girls.

To be honest and realistic, No country could implement all of reforming strategies at once or alone. First of all, governments should undertake an analysis of the particular barriers facing girls to selecting a package of the most pertinent interventions. Government can make use of the private sector to help solving some of the logistics issues like building new schools and provide it with the requires facilities. Below are some the measure that should be considered to solve the problem.

• Making education free and compulsory is the keystone of any national plan to eliminate gender disparity in education.
• Explaining the advantages of sending girls to school can make a real difference. In Malawi, for example, the initial result of abolishing school fees in 1994 was an increase in enrolment of almost 70 per cent (UNICEF)
• Employ a high proportion of female teachers. This will make girls and their families feel more secure to send girls to the school.
• Promoting health in schools. Teaching HIV/AIDS Prevention & Personal hygiene Education program.
• Eliminating gender bias from textbooks and learning materials.
• Enabling young mothers to return to school. In many countries girls who become pregnant while at school are forbidden to return to their studies.
• Providing alternative education for girls education centers established outside the formal school system or use E-learning as an alternative method to encourage girls to learn if they can't attend school for any reason.
• Locating schools closer to children’s homes, if necessary by establishing small, multigrade or multiage schools in remote rural areas.
• Involving the local community, by integrating their efforts with the government.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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bhavna's picture

Eliminating gender bais!

You have pointed out an excellent point of eliminating gender bais in text books and learning materials. For ages the padelogical drafting committe was under male influence and the patriarcal evident in these books is the outcome of the exixting social system, that is completely male dominated. Even look at the children entertainment material, play materials and fairy tales they too are deeply gender baised! It becomes our collective responsibility to raise our concerns to remove these baises!
Good writeup, Keep it up!


Cassady's picture

Strong article!

You have done an excellent job explaining so many of the underlying reasons for gender disparities in education; your article is a concise and quite complete introduction to how and why so many girls are struggling to become educated. My expertise is in gender inequality in India, and I was fascinated to learn about some of the similarities between India and many other countries around the world that you included in your article (I also appreciated the citations very much!). All of your suggestions for improving the situation were great. My favorite was the one about explaining the advantages of educating girls. In so many cases, families are struggling on a day to day basis, and are unable to see the long term benefits of educating girls. Helping to spread information about these long term improvements may be a huge step in helping girls to stay in school. Great work, thank you for sharing!


mai's picture

Thank you

Thank you Cassady for those encouraging words. It's pleasure to know that my work is valuable for you. I hope we can be the link between women's voices & the world.


CamilaFMScialla's picture



You do a great job of outlining very specific barriers girls face in education and ways to change them. Some of your solutions I haven't even considered... like changing the way female perceived in textbooks or allowing mothers to return to school. These are solutions that every community should consider because school does need to be a place that girls feel safe and feel cherished. Thank you for your incredible ideas!


mai's picture


It's pleasure that you liked my article. I hope we can really change the world to a better place.


Beverly Rose's picture

Mai, What an amazing article!


What an amazing article! Thank you for writing and sharing and being a part of this project. I learned much about your country; you described the problems and you gave solutions. Women's voices have for so long been silenced, yet this is where the practical, honest solutions are heard. Please continue to advocate for girls' education and women's right. I know that you will do amazing things!

In peace,


mai's picture

Thank you very much your

Thank you very much your encouragement words. I hope it helps.


Leslie Stoupas's picture

Excellent plan!

Dear Mai,

I find your plan for changing access to education for girls to be both thorough and inspiring. It can feel daunting when seeing how many challenges must be met, but your suggestion that countries prioritize those challenges is a good one. It is a case of circular logic sometimes, isn't it, that girls aren't valued enough to go to school, but that being educated and productive members of society is what often raises their social value! I applaud your support of girls' education and believe that with such a well-thought out plan, the possibilities are much more in reach, I look forward to reading more of your ideas!

Leslie Stoupas

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