Mind the Gap - Gender & Education
Imagine you are a young girl starting school in the North African country of Mauritania. Will you keep up with, or even surpass, the boys in your class? What are the chances you will continue to secondary school or even university?
Mind the Gap: Gender & Education, a new online game, takes you on an interactive journey down the educational pathways open to girls around the world. Create an avatar, and explore your chances of finishing school or going on to higher education. Signposts along the way tell you about the obstacles that may prevent girls from getting the kind of education they are entitled to, such as poverty, lack of safety and traditions.
Developed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) to mark International Women’s Day, Mind the Gap is designed for anyone interested in learning more about the progress and pitfalls of girls’ and women’s education, including students, teachers and advocates.
It’s available in English, French and Spanish. Play now!
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Sometimes it hurts
To look back at pictures
Where eyes are innocent
When they glimmer like crystal balls
The future can be anything
It’s all a surprise
We were only babies.
School enters your life
Friendships made but also destroyed
Experiences with others
The first taste of the rest of our lives
But we’re still too naïve to know of hurt
Curiosity controls our life
We were still young.
Enter Junior High
Dealing with cliques
Every day the drama and lies
They cause you to question friend from foe
Our hearts hurt
We were growing up.
Enter High School
We start to form the rest of our lives
With the choices we make
And the people with whom we communicate
Sleepless nights turn into blurry days
And friendships become challenging
We are no longer young.
High school gets no better
Every day we’re more exhausted
Questioning basic things like life and belief
We learn more about ourselves
As we gain individuality and freedom
Decide who we like and who we don’t
Our childhood is but a memory.
Finally we experience
Jobs and group projects
Friendships and love
We go to sleep tired and knowing less
But we wake up more in touch with the world
We never stop challenging who we are
For we have grown up.
In Kenya, educating nomadic pastoralist children with low-cost schools
Recently, UNICEF has partnered with Turkana Education for All (TEFA) and the Government of Kenya on an initiative to reach marginalized and nomadic pastoralist communities with low-cost schools. The Rapid School Readiness Initiative identifies school-age children in hard-to-reach areas who do not have access to any form of education.
Will Kenya’s stark education inequalities feature in the second presidential debate, to be held tomorrow? We think they should.
By Pauline Rose, Director of the EFA Global Monitoring Report
Education has emerged as a leading theme in the campaign for Kenya’s hotly contested presidential election next week. The quality of education, the lack of teachers and making sure children make it to secondary school all came up in the first presidential debate on February 11.
While these are important issues, there is one that goes deeper, because it keeps so many children out of school: the stark inequalities faced by so many in Keny, including pastoralists, urban slum dwellers and refugees. When the presidential candidates meet today for their second debate, they have a chance to tackle this injustice.
Kenya has made some great strides in education over the past dozen years. When the government officially abolished primary school fees, many more children were able to attend. Enrolment rates increased from 62% to 83% from 1999-2009, as we found in the 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report.
Kenya is now looking beyond primary school to universal secondary education. But primary school is still a distant dream for 1 million children – especially girls and young women, as we highlighted on this blog a year ago. This makes it one of the 10 countries in the world with the highest numbers out of school. Check out our fact sheet on education in Kenya to read more. Tej reality is that, if you are from a rich household in Nairobi, your chances of getting into school are extremely high, whether you are male or female. But if you are poor and live in the pastoralist North-Eastern region, it’s a very different story, and even more so if you are female.
Kenya’s lowest enrolment ratios and largest gender gaps are found in the 10 most arid districts, inhabited predominantly by pastoralists. In the worst districts, less than 2 out of 10 girls enrol. Pastoralists have to move with their herds, so the government needs to find flexible and more mobile ways to meet their education needs – more urgently now than ever, as climate change forces herders to travel farther and farther in search of water.
To the government’s credit, it produced a plans for helping reach nomadic groups with an education after our report. But it continues to largely ignore the education rights of another large group whose needs we know are also acute: children living in urban slums.
About a third of Nairobi’s population – around 1 million people – live in slums. These settlements are deemed “illegal,” so they are not recognized in government plans for schools. Household poverty, poor child health and nutrition and extensive child labour prevent many children from getting an education. Most parents in slums have to pay for poor-quality private schooling, due to the lack of government schools there, while non-slum children have access to free government education.
Refugees are the third group in Kenya that faces huge barriers to education, as I described on this blog in 2011. Kenya has some of Africa’s largest refugee populations, many of whom fled from wars in Somalia and Sudan, but the government has been unable to support their education.
When I visited the sprawling Dadaab complex of refugee camps in northeastern Kenya in 2010, refugees told me they saw schooling as a top priority because “Education is the only thing we can take home.” But their hopes and aspirations are not being met. The government needs to make sure its education plans include helping refugee populations. Countries giving aid must help provide the funds to make these plans possible.
Ensuring education for all means making special efforts to reach those who have been excluded in the past. Kenya’s presidential candidates have a chance today in their debate to show they understand that principle – by highlighting the education barriers faced by those who most need the government’s help, especially rural girls, pastoralists, slum dwellers and refugees.
Share if you agree!!
Photo: Child in the Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. (D. Willetts/UNESCO)
This Thursday we celebrate International Mother Language Day.
Linguistic and cultural diversity represent universal values that strengthen the unity and cohesion of societies. UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova will reinforce the importance of this core message and specifically highlight this year’s theme of access to books and digital media in local languages.
Check out this image of peace in 100+ languages.
[US] Students from the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls write about education (part 1 of 4)
[…] Recently, a group of students from the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls who had learned about the tragic events in Pakistan that had left 14-year old Malala severely wounded wrote to The United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) expressing their solidarity, outrage and passion for education. Today we’d like to introduce you to each of these girls and their thoughts on education. (via Students from the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls write about education (part 1 of 4) | Back on Track)
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: 5 February 2013
A girl from the indigenous Rama community stands outside her home, in South Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua. Nearly a quarter of the region’s inhabitants are from indigenous and Afro-descendent communities. For these often marginalized groups, the country’s lingering challenges are amplified; approximately 60 per cent live in extreme poverty, and their access to adequate housing, basic services and education remains severely limited.
To see more: www.unicef.org/photography
A post-2015 youth perspective: It’s make-or-break time for education
I came across this picture on my Facebook timeline a couple of days ago. It captures very well the state of education in many countries, where government schools providing free education are inadequate and quality of education is extremely poor.
In India, where I live, the government is going berserk to enrol children in schools and higher education institutes but quality has suffered badly, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2012 published by Pratham, a non-government organization. The enrolment rate has risen but so has the dropout rate. Over 75.2% of all children enrolled in Standard 5 in government schools could not do simple division problems.
Globally, 61 million primary school age children are still out of school. More than 56 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa aged 15-24 have not completed primary school. In Tanzania, of 48 schools assessed, not even a single student could pass the primary school exam.
Primary education is vital for the inclusive growth of a country – and the individual. If you haven’t got primary education – because there were no schools or you went to a school that was dreadful – you don’t have an initial platform to stand on. It is the chief source of social mobility but it is not accessible to astonishingly large proportion of the poor.
Education, one of the basic rights of an individual, has become a distant dream for many; “quality education” has become a niche product accessible only by the elite. This has resulted in an extremely high skill deficit especially in developing countries, creating social malaise.
The OECD projects that India will produce 24 million graduates by the end of this decade, however:
- an earlier survey by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) found that only 39.5% of all graduates in India were viewed as employable
- only 10% of graduates from business schools in India manage to get hired
- a study by Aspiring Minds showed that India produces more than 500,000 engineering graduates a year, but barely 3% of an assessed 55,000 graduates were viewed as ready to be employed without extra training.
The problem is not just in India or developing countries; Harvard Business Review estimates that by 2020, the worldwide shortage of highly skilled, college-educated workers could reach 40 million.. “Even America is neither producing enough college graduates to sustain a robust workforce, nor fulfilling its national promise of economic opportunity for all,” writes Daniel Greenstein.
There are more youth in the world now than ever before, and most of them are concentrated in developing countries. With less than two years to achieve the Education for All goals and the Millennium Development Goals, now is the time to start planning for Education Post 2015. The focus needs to switch to quality of education and skills training for youth that can lead to meaningful employment.
Two major steps are required post-2015:
- By 2030, all children and youth should complete primary and lower secondary education which enables them to meet measurable learning standards and acquire relevant skills so they may become responsible, productive members of society.
- Corporations should conduct an inventory of skills and create a detailed estimate of the kinds and amounts of skills they require. Based on these needs, they should conduct skills training programs, and diploma and certificate courses in partnership with government agencies.
Public-private partnerships and participation of youth in policy decisions regarding education and skills development should be the mantras for education post-2015. I agree with Pauline Rose that “Education needs its Bill Gates” but I would add that “Education also needs its Martin Luther King Jr” – education needs funds and equity.
Naim Keruwala was a member of the international editing team for the youth version of the 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report. He is a project consultant (governance) at Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries & Agriculture, a core team member of YUVA Unstoppable and an alumnus of AIESEC.
Email: naimkeruwala@gmailcom | Twitter: @Naim_K
Lights…camera…action! Pakistani youngsters tell stories of hope through one-minute films
Watch Mibsam Tanveer (age 10) short film titled, “Good moves fight evil.”
Thats pretty good for a 10 year old…right?
Misbah is one of 15 children selected to participate in a OneMinutesJr. workshop on the theme ‘Education through peace and tolerance’ organized by UNICEF and the One Minutes Foundation. Children from underprivileged backgrounds spend five days learning the basics of filmmaking and then develop concepts for their films, which will be one minute in length. The children are mentored by artist facilitators who help refine the concepts and messages for more compelling films.
Have you got a video to send to us about young people’s need for skills? We’re putting together a group to send to governments over the next few weeks. All submissions welcome!
On Thursday Ahmad Alhindawi of Jordan was appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his Envoy on Youth to address the needs of the largest generation of youth the world has ever known.
Close to 40,000 primary school children in Kenya’s northeastern Dadaab refugee complex have had their educations interrupted by a two-week-long teachers’ strike over unpaid salaries.
Due to funding difficulties, the African Development and Emergency Operation (ADEO), a local NGO that was responsible for primary education in Dadaab’s Ifo camps, had to hand the programme over to another NGO, Islamic Relief, on 1 January. However, ADEO has not paid more than 600 teachers from 19 schools their December 2012 salaries.
The strike has been ongoing since the school year started on 7 January.
Help us complete this sentence: Education without teachers is like……
Imagine a society where being a teacher is equally amazing as being a doctor.
If teachers are just as much as doctors are. Imagine the quality of education in that society. Kids will strive to be a teacher and not choose careers based on predicted incomes and what their parents tell them is a ‘very good’ career. Some people today still have the attitude that ‘if nothing else goes to plan - they’ll settle and become a teacher.’ That is not an attitude you want the teachers of your children to have.
Imagine a society where teachers drive ferraris. Imagine the quality of education then.
You can always say, then people will become teachers only for the income, but if a career like teaching is regarded as as important as being a doctor then becoming a teacher will be just as hard, and then only the best people become one of the most important figures in your child’s world.
I know that there are flaws to this idea and that there are economical and political boundaries that won’t let this happen probably in my lifetime.
But just a thought.
This picture speaks a thousand words. Education is vital on so many levels.