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Girls' Education- Barriers and Solutions

Girls' Education- Barriers and Solutions 2013 (VOF Week One Assignment)
By Stella Danso Addai
Majority of girls in Africa face many challenges with respect to the right and access to education right from the point of enrollment, retention and completion of their education.
A little over 6 out of every 10 men, but only 4 out of every 10 women are literate. 59 percent females compared to 17 percent males are said to be involved in trade apprenticeship since they are not encouraged to further their education.
According to a World Bank report published in 2012, the Ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary education (%) in Ghana was last reported at 96.38 in 2011. The graph below provides a historical data for Ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary education (%) in Ghana.

It is unfortunate that most girls’ education is not a priority to many African parents.
However, it is well noted that educating girls proves to be the most cost-effective measure a developing country can take to improve its standard of living. Educating girls is very important since they have the potential to impact positively on society due to the dominant role they play. As one Ghanaian politician once said “if you educate a man you educate an individual but if you educate a woman you educate a nation”.

In Africa, Ghana to be precise, most girls continue to face challenges that prevent them from getting access to formal education.
There are numerous reasons that explain why girls in Ghana particularly those in the Northern regions are mostly illiterates. Some of the common reasons include poverty and burden of cost, sexual harassment, and a cultural mindset that devalues female education.

Other factors such as child marriage and teenage pregnancy also prevent girls from getting access to education.
As a result of abject poverty among most parents in Ghana, the Northern community in particular discourages higher career pursuits for women.

Although Ghana’s 1992 Constitution has made it clear that each child has a right to free, compulsory primary education, the funding does not cover most expenses like books, pens, uniforms among others.

Traditional Ghanaian culture as well doesn’t always have a positive view on females who advance into higher educational levels, especially in the rural northern Islamic areas.

The Way Forward

One way to change the negative attitude towards girl child education is through education and awareness creation among traditional and religious leaders, as well as disadvantaged communities regarding the importance of girl child education. This could change their perception that the role of women in the society is limited to being home-makers who are expected to cater for and serve the men at home, and that the rightful place for a woman is the home or kitchen

This strategy should be backed by putting in place an incentive structure or package to support those who are able to send their female children to school.

The Government can also create a fund to support needy families who cannot afford the cost of sending their girls to school. The cost of educating girls should be affordable to all.

Better education on sexual health information, increased access to contraceptives, in order to discourage early marriage and pre-mature pregnancy would also help alleviate this barrier.

Since sexual harassment is reported rampant in the classrooms as well as over sexist bias from teachers, it is suggested that teachers and students should be counseled to be gender-sensitive.

Both government and Non-governmental Organizations should join hands to establish Girls Clubs, to raise the self-esteem of female students and thereby reduce sexual harassment to the barest minimum.

Another means could be the empowerment Camps and prosecuting the perpetrators.

END

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.
Learn more »

Comments

SallyB's picture

Clear Voice and Good Ideas

You describe the problem well and have some good suggestions, especially the one about the government creating a fund and an incentive program to support and encourage families to send their daughters to school. I'm also wondering about the possibility of all-girl schools in order to avoid the problem of sexual harassment.

Stella Danso's picture

Thank you

Thank you for reading through the article for me.

ayodele emefe's picture

Hello

Hello Stella,

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

You clearly highlighted the challenges facing girl education in Ghana and the changes that you want to see effected. How do you think the web 2.0 can be used to accomplish these? What role do you propose to play in improving the plight of girls in your community?

I will love to hear from you.

Cheers,

Ayodele

"You are a champion and a hero. Do not think yourself any less"

Stella Danso's picture

Appreciation

Dear Ayodele,

Thank you very much for your kind words. You have motivated me and I must say I am greatly moved to know you read the full article.

However, to answer your question and what I would do I think you would find my response in the 24th paragraph where I hint that I intend to use my motivational talks in the schools where I sell my novels to get young girls to aspire higher in life.

best regards

Stella

Anna V's picture

A lot of information

Wow- You gave so much information in this post! I am impressed with how much you know about this topic. You have done impressive research here. I agree with ayodele emefe that I would love to hear how you use this knowledge to make change in your community.

Thank you for sharing and helping us to learn.

Anna

Stella Danso's picture

A change indeed

Being a journalist, I have made it my duty to write and give motivational talks to educate people, particularly women and girls to know their rights and how to stand for themselves in times of difficulties. This is to ensure that the indigent girls have the practical experience on how to be on their own. When such stories are published, the local radio stations pick and discuss them. The panels explain the stories in their various local dialects to enable the message get to the target group. Aside those write ups, I am also working with a group of people who help me to go round some selected schools and give inspirational talks to the girls and the entire populace of the school. At the schools, we organize the programme in such a way that we give inspiration messages on the need for encourage women to study hard. We then allow both teachers and students to ask questions. This programme is done in such a way that by the time we would be living, all the people would understand the need for girl-child education in a community. We normally give prizes to all students, particularly the girls who read more books within that month.

Anna V's picture

Amazing Work

It is wonderful that the radio stations pick up the stories and discuss them in a way that people can access them even if they cant read. You are fortunate to have that in your community.

It sounds as if your program is vital to changing how girls feel about education.

Keep up the good work!
Anna

Stella Danso's picture

Thanks

Thank you Anna for your support. In my community, almost all morning show programmes of the radio stations are based on the stories that had been appeared in the newspapers.

antonia.h.'s picture

Thank you for all this

Thank you for all this information! I think your article shows that you've thought about the root-causes of this issue and you suggest measures that can address that. I completely agree that the first step would be creating awareness. And the NGOs can have great impact on this and maybe even leverage on government policies, depending on the dynamics in the country. But through campaigns, workshops, educational programs, people will start to realize the issue. And then if the civil society mobilizes, there can be political measures instated. I personally believe it can be done, but of course, this takes time. People's perceptions take time to be changed...

Stella Danso's picture

Well noted

Antonia, thank you for your advice. No matter the situation, we will work hard to achieve our aim.
Cheers.

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