Dr. Rebecca Winthrop discussed what works in girl’s education and its importance on a local and global scale on April 5, 2016. Dr. Ken Bedell moderated the talk.
Rebecca Winthrop discussed her latest book release entitled What Works in Girls Education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment, which compiles over forty years of research on girl’s education and argues that the improvement and investment therein has a wide-reaching impact upon the world ranging from the economy, public health, reducing child marriage, and the empowerment of women.
Investing in girl’s education…
Promotes economic growth and productivity:
- The economies of the world benefit from women being included within the labor market.
- The more education women receive, the more likely they are to have higher wages/income, provide for their families, and promote their own financial independence.
- Correlated with a decrease in infant and maternal mortality; health journals show half a decrease in infant mortality since 1970 has been due to an increase in the education of mothers.
Leads to healthier and smaller families:
- As young women attain increasing levels of education, they have much fewer children (sometimes even half as much)
Contributes to the mitigation of climate change:
- Reducing the exponential growth in population through the education of women, thus mitigating the human impact on the environment
Results in healthier and better-educated children:
- Higher rates of education for women, more vaccinated children tend to be, more likely they are to attend schooling
Decreases the likelihood of child marriage:
- In countries where girls have little education, they are six times more likely to marry as children in comparison to girls who have completed secondary education
Leads to women’s empowerment:
- Strongly associated with a reduction in domestic violence (more likely to exit abusive relationships or not enter them, to begin with), greater opportunities for leadership opportunities- participation in community/local decision-making (local councils, allocation of resources)
- Educated women are more likely to make contributions to political processes that are devoted towards social services, childcare, education, etc.
Reduces consequences stemming from natural disasters:
- Deaths from natural disasters would be reduced 60% by 2050 if 70% of all 20-39 aged women would complete secondary schooling
A lot of progress has been made in the past few decades, but there are still major concerns in several “gap” areas of girl’s education:
- Transition to and completion of secondary schooling
- 62 million girls are not enrolled in school (sub-Saharan Africa, Southwest Asia in particular); only 8% of girls finish the last year of secondary school in Africa.
- Improving the quality of learning
- Many girls who do attend school receive sub-par education resulting in a lack of basic competency in math and reading skills
- There exists a subset of countries where girl’s education is a particular concern (Known as girl’s education “hotspots”).
- An estimated 80 countries around the world are considered hotspots in which education for women is severely limited and/or constrained.
- Women in these countries are most affected by humanitarian crises due to natural disasters, civil war, religious/ethnic persecution
- Ethno-religious minority communities are at the greatest disadvantage
What can be done?
- Get girls into school and keep them there
- Implementation of conditional cash transfers: initiatives originating in Latin America that involve paying parents to keep their children in school by requiring regular attendance, mandating minimum exam scores, the postponement of marriage, and so forth.
- Placing a greater emphasis on girl’s health, reducing time and distance to schools, and maintaining educational institutions during periods of emergency and social upheaval.
- Improving learning standards by hiring teachers with better training/credentials or finding individuals from local areas who are familiar with the local vernacular language and culture.
- Developing strategies for helping children who are the furthest behind such as tutoring services for improving reading and literacy.
- Cultivating “soft skills”: problem-solving, interpersonal skills, and professional networking.