The Importance of Education for Girls in Extreme Poverty
Well, I’m not a woman and my roar is pretty weak but I’ve been learning a lot about the roar of women and frankly I’m a bit jealous. The education program has been looking to make a big impact and trying to be strategic about the interventions we put in place. We are looking to use the sponsored school as a platform to run programs that will help eradicate extreme poverty. Education is such a broad area to work in and many interventions are “good.” We can continue our efforts in helping to renovate and build classrooms, train teachers in Early Childhood Development, work with parents to take teacher attendance, etc. With unlimited resources we can do all these things and feel good about making a positive change but as Econ 101 teaches us, resources are scarce (especially true for a nonprofit). So with limited resources we need to be sure we are investing in interventions that will result in the highest returns for eradicating extreme poverty.
We have not finalized specific programs or an evaluation metrics yet but the research seems to be overwhelming in the changes that result with the education of girls. “Opening Doors,” a report by the World Bank supporting its investment in education lists some conclusions of studies in female education:
- A year of schooling for the mother reduces child mortality by about 10%
- An additional year of female education reduces total fertility rates by 0.23 births
- Educated women are more likely to send and keep their children in school
- An increase of 1 percentage point in the share of women with secondary education raises per capita income by about 0.3 percentage points
- Plan International’s “Because I Am a Girl 2009” report of developing countries further emphasizes the need for focusing on female education:
- Women with seven or more years of schooling have two to three fewer children than women with fewer than three years’ education
- Children of mothers who spent five years in primary schools are 40 percent more likely to live beyond the age of five
- Crop yields would rise by 22 percent if women farmers had the same education and inputs as men in Kenya
- In rural Uganda those with secondary education are three times less likely to be HIV positivethan those with no education
These are but few of the benefits of focusing on female education with anecdotal evidence and further analysis left out, perhaps for a future post. The Girl Effect is an organization with a website and facebook page devoted to getting this information to the masses. Indeed, I am very excited about the possibility of improving education for girls in Kenya and seeing positive changes in health, the economy and in agriculture. And through education, we can allow girls in rural Kenya to grow to be women whose roars will bring amazing and lasting change to the communities we are working in and eventually to the entire country.
About Thomas Hong
Leadership Program Director — Thomas has worked in education and leadership development in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Mongolia and Uzbekistan. He holds a B.A. in Economics and master’s degree in teaching from the University of Virginia and an MBA in international organizations from the University of Geneva.Read More Stories of Hope