<div class="title-block" style="border-bottom-color: #b56b79"><h1><img class="title-image" src="http://www.heart-resources.org/wp-content/themes/heart/images/education.svg">Girls’ Education</h1><div class="post-type-description"></div></div> – Health and Education Advice and Resource Team http://www.heart-resources.org Providing DFID staff and other development actors with health, education and nutrition knowledge and expertise from around the world Fri, 02 Mar 2018 13:10:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Changing the gendered dynamics of refugee classrooms in West Africa: introducing female classroom assistants http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/changing-gendered-dynamics-refugee-classrooms-west-africa-introducing-female-classroom-assistants/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/changing-gendered-dynamics-refugee-classrooms-west-africa-introducing-female-classroom-assistants/#respond Fri, 03 Jun 2016 10:23:52 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=29070 Read more]]> Refugee schools in West Africa tend to be dominated by men, with even early years classes taught mostly by male teachers. There are very few female teachers and even fewer female head teachers or education administrators. Although enrollment in the lower classes is more or less gender balanced, by the upper primary level, many of the Liberian refugee girls studying in Sierra Leone and Guinea have dropped out of school and boys greatly outnumber girls. This situation can mean that lessons are oriented to boys’ needs and experiences, that girls are discouraged from participating actively in class and that they are deprived of female role models and women who will encourage them in their studies. It can also mean that girls are vulnerable to sexual exploitation by teachers, often in return for good grades and help with lessons. Although the gender/power dynamics of classroom spaces in the west have been well-documented and theorised, there is little detailed research from development contexts, from Africa particularly, and specifically from refugee school

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Secondary education for refugee adolescents: education issue brief 6 http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/secondary-education-refugee-adolescents-education-issue-brief-6/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/secondary-education-refugee-adolescents-education-issue-brief-6/#respond Mon, 18 Apr 2016 14:46:15 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=28911 Read more]]> Despite progress in enrolment and retention of refugee children in primary education services in recent years, access to secondary education for refugee adolescents remains a critical gap across UNHCR operations. This education brief outlines key information on secondary education programming for refugees.

The brief highlights that globally, only one in four refugee adolescents are in secondary school, with large numbers of young refugees, a majority of them girls, out of school. In many refugee operations, secondary education services are meeting a fraction of the demand. In Dadaab camps in Kenya for example, there are 33 primary schools, but only seven secondary schools, running at double their capacity to accommodate just 13 per cent of the adolescent population. In 2015, UNHCR aimed to spend just 13 per cent of its total education budget on secondary education, about one-third of spending allocated for primary education. Where resources are constrained, the common practice in operations has been to give priority to supporting primary education, resulting in chronic neglect of secondary education services for refugees.

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Early childhood development and girls http://www.heart-resources.org/reading_pack/early-childhood-development-girls/ http://www.heart-resources.org/reading_pack/early-childhood-development-girls/#respond Tue, 22 Mar 2016 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=reading_pack&p=28787 Read more]]> Introduction

The international evidence that high quality early childhood development (ECD) programmes benefit all children’s development, life experiences, and life chances, is overwhelming. The evidence comes from studies of all kinds, including well-known large quantitative longitudinal studies (e.g. High/Scope Perry studies in the USA and the work of Heckman, at http://heckmanequation.org/) to more localised qualitative case studies (e.g. Ames, Rojas & Portugal, 2010; Muthali, Mvula & Silo, 2014; Save the Children, 2003). As the HEART Early Childhood Development Topic Guide (Woodhead et. al., 2014) points out, early childhood development is an enormous field covering a range of sectors including early learning and education, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, social protection and community. The ECD field extends across multiple sectors and spans the life period from conception through to eight years. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 aims to ‘ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning’ (UN, 2015). A key target within this goal is ensuring ‘that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education’ (UN, 2015).

For girls, it is often the intersection of multiple issues that create inequitable early life experiences. For example, growing up in a low-income country + being a girl + being rural + being the eldest sibling can equate to a significant level of inequity for the life experiences and chances of girls. This reading pack directs the reader to some of the key points raised in the wide-ranging body of research as they relate to ECD experiences and outcomes for girls. It describes a case study example of girls’ ECD experiences, including what works, and then suggests readings and asks questions to provoke further questioning and discussion.


Attention to the gendered experiences of early childhood development requires a holistic focus. Girls and boys are born into different cultural, social and physical worlds. Indeed, boy preference may mean that a female foetus is not even allowed to be born. The 2007 UNESCO advocacy report points out, in the Asia Pacific region, ‘…boy preference results in more under-five deaths of girls due to poor care, aborting the female foetus and killing newborn girls’ (UNESCO, 2007, p. 4). In Nepal, gender discrimination means that 10 girls die for every seven boys, and girls continue to be fed less, receive less health care, and have fewer chances to play (Save the Children, 2003). Such shortcomings, during the critical early childhood development years, continue to impact life chances through adolescence and into adulthood. For example, long-term nutritional disadvantage during the early childhood years translates to poor health as the girl moves into marriage and child-bearing age, which in turn impacts the next generation through low birth weights (Yousafzai et al, 2013).

More positively, longitudinal research by Behrman and colleagues (2009) suggests that nutritional diet supplements for girls under seven years had positive long-term and intergenerational effects through their eventual higher levels of maternal and infant health. Links between health and educational participation and success are demonstrated in India, where ‘a pre-school health programme in Delhi increased average school participation by 7.7 percentage points for girls and 3.2 points for boys’ (Prpich, Zimanyi & Curtis, 2007, p. 10).

Socially and culturally, at home and at school, adults tend to respond differently to girls and to boys (Bosch, 2001; UNGEI, 2010). This means that adults interact with girls differently; parents often have higher expectations of girls’ contributions to domestic labour and lower expectations of their right to an education. This lower expectation in terms of education can translate to fewer girls being enrolled in ECD programmes or at primary school, especially in rural areas. If they are enrolled they are more likely to miss days and are at a higher risk of dropping out (Bosch, 2001; UNGEI, 2010). While in ECD settings or at school, girls are also likely to experience inequities in terms of curriculum content and delivery.

Girls who transitioned to primary schooling from a pre-school or other early childhood educational context are more likely to begin school at the usual school starting age (about six years) and were more likely to continue at school and be successful (Ames, Rojas & Portugal, 2010; Save the Children, 2003). Arnold et al (2007) note evidence for the importance of before school educational experiences for girls from a number of countries including Brazil, India, Bangladesh and Jamaica.

Case studies

The case studies of Carmen and Cecilia below, taken from the Young Lives research in Peru (Ames, Rojas & Portugal, 2010) provide examples of how multiple factors intersect in the lives of girls to create inequities in their early childhood experiences. In the cases of Carmen and Cecilia there are three key points of intersection: geographical location, language of instruction, and school fees and other hidden costs. For the two girls, these key factors intersected in different ways, creating very different ECD experiences.

For Carmen, living in a rural context in Peru, the ‘nearby’ pre-school did not translate to being close enough, and her parents were understandably reluctant to take the risk of allowing their young girl to walk alone to and from school along the main road. Instead, they compensated by teaching her as best they could at home. Carmen’s whole family is positive about education, and with their support she was prepared for the transition to primary school and felt excited about this major life event. During her first six months at school, Carmen had three teachers. As significant adults in a child’s life, high teacher turnover is a concern. For Carmen, as a positive and engaged child with family support, the transition into primary schooling was generally good.

Cecilia is growing up in an urban context with ECD services close by. However, for Cecilia, the barrier to accessing this local ECD service was cost. Once Cecilia began primary school her experiences are not as positive as Carmen’s. Her negative experiences tended to revolve around her siblings’ negative reports and the level of physical punishment that she didn’t understand, and that made her sad. So while Cecilia grew to enjoy school and learning, it seemed to be somewhat against the odds. A further barrier for Cecilia is the language of instruction, which is not the same as her home language. Language is closely related to culture and this mismatch creates a further, and long-term, barrier for Cecilia.

What works for girls’ ECD?

What works for girls’ ECD is complex. As the case studies above illustrate, girls’ experience ECD inequities through the intersection of various factors including, but not limited to, geographical location, poverty levels, and/or family and community expectations. To mitigate this, the number of barriers to access need to be reduced. Families and communities need clear, timely and relevant information about the importance and value of ECD for girls. As research in Nepal, Peru, Malawi and across Asia illustrates, ECD works best when parents and communities are supportive and understand the importance of the early years of a child’s life (Save the Children, 2003; Ames, Rojas & Portugal, 2010; UNGEI, 2010, Munthali, Mvula, & Silo, 2014). With family and community support there also needs to be accessible, affordable, and local ECD services particularly in rural and isolated areas. Once in an ECD site, girls should engage with qualified and consistent staff who have been trained in gender sensitivity. As in the case study of Carmen above, high teacher turnover and/or poorly qualified teachers is a significant barrier to quality ECD (Ames, Rojas & Portugal, 2010). Teacher training and ongoing professional support is a vital component of the ECD picture.

Gender sensitivity requires engagement with expectations for both girls and boys. While this reading pack focuses on ECD and girls, it is clear that quality early childhood development experiences that are valuable for girls also benefit boys, especially those boys who are most marginalised and vulnerable. For example, the elimination of the physical punishment of children by teachers would benefit all children. Whenever we focus on the specific effects of gender it is important to do so without reducing the debate to an unhelpful one of competing victims, where it becomes boys versus girls. If the effects of gendered expectations and practices are to be ameliorated, then it is necessary for men and women to work together as families, communities and educators. With this wide community support early childhood development experiences for all children can be positive, healthy and safe.

Key readings

Ames, P., Rojas, V., & Portugal, T. (2010). Continuity and respect for diversity: Strengthening early transitions in Peru. Working Paper No.56, Studies in Early Childhood Transitions. The Hague, The Netherlands: Bernard van Leer Foundation. http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/continuity-respect-diversity-strengthening-early-transitions-peru/

Summary: This paper reports on findings from the Young Lives research project. It explores the experiences of children transitioning from pre-primary education to primary school education in Peru. The researchers report on interviews with children, parents, and teachers to provide a detailed account of the wide variety of transition experiences. The case studies presented illustrate the complexity and diversity of transition experiences across Peru for young children and their families. While it is transitions into schooling that form the focus of this paper, several of the participating case study children are girls. The paper provides important insights into girls’ experiences through interviewing the girls themselves. The paper concludes with recommendations for improving ECD in Peru.

Arnold, C. (2004). Positioning ECCD in the 21st Century. The Coordinator’s Notebook: An International Resource for Early Childhood Development. Consultative Group’s Annual Consultation, Turkey, Istanbul. http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/positioning-eccd-21st-century/

Summary: This paper makes a set of arguments for the importance of ECD that are based around three key themes: a) that ECD is central to children’s rights; b) that ECD is a sound economic investment; and c) that ECD provides solid foundations for children’s holistic development. The paper refers to extensive evidence for the benefits of ECD, provides useful case studies, and explores some of the challenges the field continues to face. The full paper is relevant to girls’ early childhood development, as one group that is regularly marginalised or excluded, and there is a short section specific to gender equity.

Save the Children. (2003). What’s the Difference? An ECD Impact Study From Nepal. http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/whats-difference-ecd-impact-study-nepal/

Summary: This paper reports on the impact of participation in ECD for children in Nepal. The paper reports that children who attended ECD showed consistent gains in starting school, maintaining attendance and engagement at school and success in examinations. The paper reports that this success is especially noticeable for girls and dalit children, and includes some descriptive statistics to make this point. The paper also reports the gains made in educating parents on the benefits of quality ECD and the parent’s growing confidence in these benefits.

UNESCO (2007). Strong Foundations for Gender Equality in Early Childhood Care and Education. Advocacy Brief. UNESCO Bangkok. http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/strong-foundations-gender-equality-early-childhood-care-education/

Summary:  This advocacy brief explores the growing need for quality ECD provision across Asia. The scale of the need for ECD provision is illustrated by the fact that in 2005, China had 84 million children between 0-4 years old, while India had 120 million. The paper goes on to explore a range of issues regarding access and quality specifically in terms of girls and gender.

UNGEI (2010). In Focus: Gender and Early Childhood Care and Development. Newsletter Issue No. 6. http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/focus-gender-early-childhood-care-development/

Summary: This newsletter presents brief summaries of several projects focusing on girls, gender sensitivity and ECD from across Asian and Pacific nations. These projects include investigations of culture and gender in ECD, school transitions, access to ECD, and literacy. The gender sensitivity focus emphasises the benefits of quality ECD programmes for girls. The newsletter also includes some useful resources, including an excellent advocacy video freely available via YouTube.


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Fatima’s story: reflections from a qualitative research dissemination on the drivers of child marriage in Gezira state, Sudan http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/fatimas-story-reflections-qualitative-research-dissemination-drivers-child-marriage-gezira-state-sudan/ http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/fatimas-story-reflections-qualitative-research-dissemination-drivers-child-marriage-gezira-state-sudan/#respond Tue, 22 Mar 2016 09:28:44 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=blog&p=28791 Read more]]> Fatima[1] wears a yellow headscarf. She has bright eyes and a hopeful face. She is 17, has already been married for several years, had a child who died in infancy and has been divorced by her husband. She asks us if we are from India as she loves Bollywood films and wants to go to Mumbai. She asks if she can come with us to Europe to be a maid. We wish we could give her the chance to continue her secondary education.

We are in Sudan, disseminating the findings of our qualitative research project exploring the drivers of child marriage in Gezira state. Our research is a collaboration between the Epidemiological Laboratory, Khartoum and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and is funded through the Medical Research Council.  We hold meetings separately with older women and men, and with adolescent girls in our three rural study villages. We show villagers pictures representing the main themes from our research findings[2] and discuss what they mean with the participants.

Everyone agrees that a ‘good woman’ should be married, have children and ‘look after the house’; there is no other socially acceptable option.  For many parents the ideal would be for their daughters to be married in mid-to-late adolescence, but many are married younger.  There are many reasons for this. One is the perceived need to protect family honour, which is inextricably linked to the chastity of its women. This means it is vitally important that she does not have any pre-marital relationships, particularly once she ‘becomes a woman’ and the safest way to ensure this is to arrange her marriage.

Another important reason is lack of accessible secondary schooling. Most parents and girls value girls’ education, but once a girl has completed primary school in the village the secondary school is more than ten kilometres away.  For most; transport is unaffordable and seen as risky for girls who may be sexually harassed or ‘fall in love’ if away from home.  Even if girls complete secondary education, for most, it is not socially acceptable for them to work after marriage, so there are no role models for girls leaving primary school, to widen their horizons and inspire their dreams, and few incentives for their parents to overcome the challenges to continuing their education.

Also, social status and personal stability lie in getting married and having many children to ensure that your husband doesn’t take another wife. Starting young is an advantage here.  There is some recognition of the risks of child bearing during the teenage years, but this does not outweigh the social pressures to fulfil the gendered ideal of a wife, which includes a social expectation to have children every two-years. This makes stories similar to Fatima’s an all too common reality, although not all girls survive teenage child birth. We are told the story of one girl who had died from sepsis due to her baby dying in-utero as she was unable to access emergency obstetric care.

How do we bring about change for Fatima and many girls like her?

Our experience in the villages epitomises the dilemmas inherent in many research projects.  Despite all our efforts to stress that we are only trying to understand marriage and family norms and have no capacity to provide services, the villagers are hopeful and carefully emphasise their priorities: a secondary school, a health post and running water in the village. In one meeting, a man criticises us because we have been coming and going for a year and ‘brought nothing’; he doesn’t see the point.

In some ways, he is right. It is difficult to envisage changing deeply rooted social customs and relations in a context with such limited support for human and social development. Despite policies that every village should have a midwife and access to a secondary school, only one of our study villages has a resident trained midwife and attending secondary school is prohibitively expensive for most families, for both girls and boys. Villagers are attempting to overcome some challenges through community mobilisation: they collect money to hire teachers and provide furniture and maintenance even for the primary school. But building a secondary school is beyond the scope the vast majority of villages. Nor can community action meet the health needs of young pregnant women in these rural communities: in an obstetric emergency, referral services are simply too far away for many women to have a chance of survival.

Intervening to prevent child marriage in this context requires multi-sectoral action and investment in the provision of alternative futures for girls. It is a huge challenge, and will require profound social change within Sudan. Sudanese women must be at the heart of this, in a collaboration with Sudanese men that ensures sufficient infrastructure for the provision of accessible services. We later meet some of the Sudanese women and men striving to meet these challenges and create change at a meeting in Khartoum.

For the sake of Fatima and thousands of girls like her, it is critical that we give serious consideration to how to support them.

[1] This is a pseudonym.

[2] We developed our research findings through a thematic framework analysis of qualitative data. The main data collected were: in-depth interviews with key informants; focus group discussions with mothers, fathers and married adolescent girls; and child marriage case studies constructed through in-depth interviews with married adolescent girls, their mothers, fathers, husbands, husband’s fathers and mothers.  We will publish the full results soon.

By Rachel Tolhurst, Senior Lecturer, and Laura Dean, Research Assistant, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

This blog was originally posted on the RESYST website on 16  March 2016. Reposted with permission.

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Nutritional supplementation in girls influences the growth of their children: prospective study in Guatemala http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/nutritional-supplementation-girls-influences-growth-children-prospective-study-guatemala/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/nutritional-supplementation-girls-influences-growth-children-prospective-study-guatemala/#respond Mon, 21 Mar 2016 12:35:43 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=28784 Read more]]> Better early childhood nutrition improves schooling, adult health, skills, and wages, but there is little evidence regarding its effect on the next generation. This study assessed whether nutritional supplementation in children aged <7 to 15 y affected their children’s nutritional status 29–38 y later. The study concludes that nutritional supplementation in girls is associated with substantial increases in their offsprings’ (more for sons) birth weight, height, head circumference, height-for-age z score, and weight-for-age z score.

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Uncovering pathways for girls’ education: gender equity and early childhood development http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/uncovering-pathways-girls-education-gender-equity-early-childhood-development/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/uncovering-pathways-girls-education-gender-equity-early-childhood-development/#respond Mon, 21 Mar 2016 12:28:02 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=28783 Read more]]> This paper addresses strategies that can make a difference for women’s and child’s rights: girls’ education. The paper discusses multi-channel learning as an educational strategy that attempts to overcome the traditional boundaries of the daily responsibilities of girls in developing countries through the careful design and combination of channels for girls to engage in learning. Through linking up and improving the quality of existing educational and communication channels, the paper argues that the opportunities for girls to learn and for young children to avail themselves of the benefits of their education are dramatically expanded.

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In focus: gender and early childhood care and development http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/focus-gender-early-childhood-care-development/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/focus-gender-early-childhood-care-development/#respond Mon, 21 Mar 2016 11:22:05 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=28780 Read more]]> This newsletter presents brief summaries of several projects focusing on girls, gender sensitivity and early childhood development (ECD) from across Asian and Pacific nations. These projects include investigations of culture and gender in ECD, school transitions, access to ECD, and literacy. The gender sensitivity focus emphasises the benefits of quality ECD programmes for girls. The newsletter also includes some useful resources, including an excellent advocacy video freely available via YouTube.

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Primary education interventions in Malawi http://www.heart-resources.org/2016/02/primary-education-interventions-in-malawi/ http://www.heart-resources.org/2016/02/primary-education-interventions-in-malawi/#respond Mon, 15 Feb 2016 15:27:33 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?p=28645 Read more]]> This rapid review identified a number of resources on primary education interventions in Malawi. Section 2 highlights literacy interventions. The Early Grade Reading Project (EGRP), funded by USAID, aims to strengthen teaching methodologies, develop appropriate learning materials, increase parental and communal support for reading, and improve the policy environment for reading. Evaluation of this project finds improved literacy scores and improved reading instruction. Save the Children’s Literacy Boost project uses assessments, teacher training and community mobilisation to improve literacy. Evaluation results show Literacy Boost schools to have significantly higher reading skills than before the programme.

Section 3 highlights interventions with a focus on girls’ education. A Theatre for a Change UK project empowered young female teachers to create inclusive environments for marginalised girls. The intervention was found to improve literacy levels and attendance for marginalised girls in treatment schools.

Interventions focussed on learning outcomes more broadly, enrolment, attendance and completion are included in Section 4. Programmes reporting evidence include:

  • The World Bank’s Project to Improve Education in Malawi saw improvement in enrolment rates from 79 to 88 % over four years.
  • Primary school support program: a school fees pilot (PSSP: SFP) funded by USAID for equitable access to education reports improved pupil achievements and improvement in the use of active teaching methods.
  • A randomised control trial found a tablet intervention significantly improved maths learning. The VSO International Unlocking Talent Project is scaling up this idea.
  • Learning material provision and a ‘school buddy’ system improved dropout rates. A slight intervention effect on maths test scores was also found.

Evidence on transition rates was not identified.

In addition to identifying evidence on Malawi, the scope of this report allowed for only a very rapid search for evidence of education interventions in the wider African region. Research was mainly identified from more comprehensive reviews. See Section 5 for interventions in countries with the closest proximity to Malawi: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Mozambique. See Section 6 for interventions in other countries in the region: Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya.

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Gender disparities in Africa’s labor market http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/gender-disparities-in-africas-labor-market/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/gender-disparities-in-africas-labor-market/#respond Wed, 20 Jan 2016 15:55:11 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=28404 Read more]]> Evidence indicates that in several countries in Africa, women’s earnings are a fraction of male’s earnings. It is argued in this book that the gap is not simply the result of discrimination in the labour markets, but rather the result of multiple factors, including access to education and credit, cultural values and household duties and labour market conditions. Gender disparities are shown to grow when economies are not functioning well and labour markets are very small. Job rationing causes those with better human capital and those with more power in the household—usually the men—to take the few jobs that are available. In regions with small formal sectors, gender disparities in earnings are high. Firm-level and sector characteristics are additional powerful factors in explaining the gender disparities in the labour market. Multifaceted strategies are required. Governments must actively encourage environments that support economic growth and job creation, as well as by promoting equal access for women to education. Attitudes that limit what women may achieve must be addressed. Gender Disparities in Africa’s Labour Market helps to fill the knowledge gap and identify the links between gender disparities and poverty reduction.


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Evidence on girls’ secondary education http://www.heart-resources.org/2016/01/evidence-on-girls-secondary-education/ http://www.heart-resources.org/2016/01/evidence-on-girls-secondary-education/#respond Wed, 13 Jan 2016 11:52:37 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?p=28499 Read more]]> Overview of key findings:

  • The cost of secondary education, including fees, other direct costs and opportunity costs constitute the primary barrier to secondary education in most contexts. The costs are often higher for girls than boys. Strategies that address the cost barriers, such as fee elimination and cash transfers are generally effective at increasing girls’ participation in secondary education. The most direct and fastest way for governments to boost girls’ enrolment is to ban schools from collecting fees.
  • Distance to school is another significant barrier to secondary education for many girls. Interventions that provide additional girls’ school places in underserved areas are generally successful.
  • Gender based violence in and around school, child marriage and early pregnancy are all significant barriers to secondary education for girls. Gender inequalities in expectations, roles, allocation of chores and learning experience also act as barriers to girls’ participation in secondary education in many contexts.
  • Over-age school attendance is very prevalent in low income countries. Girls who are over age are more likely to drop out and less likely to progress to secondary school.
  • There are at least 20 countries where girls, on average, receive less than 9 years education. In almost all of these countries, girls receive fewer years of education than boys.
  • In many countries where DFID works, education is not compulsory beyond 13 years of age. But in many countries where compulsory education extends beyond this age, girls’ secondary enrolment rates are very low.
  • There is inconsistent evidence as to whether private schools are equally accessed by boys and girls. There is stronger evidence that philanthropic and religious schools allow equal access to boys and girls. Public Private Partnerships, where the state funds places in private schools, appear to be beneficial to girls in contexts where there is a good supply of quality private secondary school places for girls.
  • There is extensive evidence that disadvantage is compounded by being a girl. Whilst the gender gaps in enrolment at the global and, in most cases, at the national level are small, gender gaps to the detriment of girls tend to be wider within the most marginalised populations. However, few programmes target combinations of gender with other forms of social exclusion.
  • Social safety net programmes have been found to be effective at helping poor rural girls to access secondary education but there is evidence that the poorest of the poor sometimes miss out on receiving the benefits they are entitled to.
  • Non-formal accelerated learning programmes can help girls who have missed out on education to catch up on their basic education. But very little research or evaluation of the transition of girls from such programmes into other forms of education has been published.


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