According to a charity’s warning, there is a need for increased efforts from governments and donors to promote the return of girls to school in Africa. This is because the rising cost of living has led many girls to choose low-paying jobs or early marriage over education.
According to Camfed, an organization working in five countries in Africa, their partnership approach has shown that this goal is attainable. They are proposing a six-year plan to enroll 6 million girls in school.
Due to the Covid-19 crisis and the increase in expenses for food and energy, numerous children have been unable to attend school in the last year and a half, greatly reducing their opportunities for obtaining a well-paying job and financial independence. Angeline Murimirwa, the head of Camfed, aims to secure a budget of $414 million (£342 million) to address this issue.
For the past 30 years, our organization has provided educational aid in Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This has resulted in 1.8 million girls being able to attend secondary school and 6.4 million boys and girls being enrolled in primary and secondary education. Our goal is to assist an additional 5 million girls in entering secondary school by 2029. We also aim to support women from previous cohorts in finding employment and taking on leadership positions.
The organization reported that teaming up with 7,000 government schools resulted in a significant increase in the number of girls finishing their education. This rate was three times higher compared to girls in other schools. Additionally, there was an improvement in girls’ self-esteem, and a delay in the age of marriage and first pregnancy.
According to Murimirwa, schools where Camfed provided support for education were able to prevent a significant increase in drop-out rates during the pandemic.
From Malawi, where nearly half of girls are married before they reach 18, she stated that more than 90% of girls were able to resume their education after Covid restrictions were lifted. This was possible because we closely monitored them, maintained communication, and provided assistance for their return.
Although attempts have been made, in numerous nations, only a limited number of girls are able to finish their secondary schooling. In Zambia, a mere 3% of girls successfully complete the secondary level. Furthermore, girls are often pressured by their societies to prioritize marriage.
Unicef reports that approximately 129 million girls globally are not attending school, with 32 million being of primary school age and 97 million of secondary school age.
Governments and organizations in the Western world, such as the World Bank, have acknowledged the significant advantages of educating girls, not only in the five countries where Camfed operates.
Over the past weekend, the Business Design Centre in London held the Festival of the Girl, a non-profit event focused on motivating and involving girls aged 7 to 11. The event featured workshops on software coding and medicine careers, as well as discussions on body positivity.
In Goa, India, this month, awards were given to young students for their digital artwork as part of a movement to elevate the status of girls in Indian culture. The government expressed its determination to address the issue of female fetus termination, which has significantly decreased the female population in the nation.
Similar to those in advanced countries, girls with a greater education level in developing nations are more inclined to engage in the official workforce and receive higher salaries.
According to a study by the World Bank in 2018, countries lose between $15 trillion and $30 trillion in potential productivity and earnings due to restricted education opportunities for girls and obstacles to completing 12 years of schooling.
The organization stated that it is widely acknowledged that women with higher education levels are typically more knowledgeable about nutrition and healthcare, have smaller families, marry at an older age, and have healthier children if they decide to have them.
According to Murimirwa, over 600,000 girls have been aided by a program sponsored by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), a long-standing collaborator and financier.
Andrew Mitchell, a minister at the FCDO, expressed his satisfaction with the progress that has been made. He stated, “The evidence shows that investing in girls’ education is the most effective means of eradicating poverty.” Mitchell also acknowledged Camfed’s success in the past three decades as a testament to this belief, and praised Angie Murimirwa’s journey to becoming chief executive as a prime example.