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.