Girls’ Education: A World Bank Priority
The World Bank is committed to fighting poverty and helping developing countries invest in their education systems. In light of this, it has embraced the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals
as its main priority and, particularly, “eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education.” The World Bank has recognized that there is no investment more effective for achieving development goals than educating girls.
The World Bank is a partner and one of many players in the international drive to improve gender equality and empower girls and women. World Bank activities focus on assisting countries’ own efforts to advance gender equality. Through its lending and non-lending activities, the Bank has helped to improve lives of girls in client countries. Since the World Conference on Education For All in Jomtien in 1990, the Bank’s emphasis in the area of girls’ education has increased and gender equality has been integrated as an important component of the Bank’s poverty reduction mission. The Education for All – Fast Track Initiative and the recent Education Sector Strategy Update have reinforced the World Bank’s commitment to the Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals.
How are girls doing?: Success and Challenges
Compared with two decades ago, more young people are entering school, completing the primary level, and pursuing secondary and tertiary education. In low-income countries alone, average enrollment rates in primary education have surged upwards of 80 percent, and primary completion rates are now above 60 percent. Remarkable accomplishments have been made towards achieving gender equality at all levels of education. Since 1990 the ratio of girls to boys enrolled in school has risen at all levels of education. The most significant increase in girls’ education enrollment in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia has been at the primary education level. In countries in East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the increase in girl’s education has been at the secondary education level while in countries in Europe and Central Asia, girls’ enrollment has risen most at the tertiary education level.
Although most developing countries have made considerable progress in reducing the gender gap in school enrollment, significant gender gaps remain. Estimates show that many countries will not meet the education Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Almost 30% of low- and middle-income countries are off-track or seriously off-track from meeting the education Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education. Additionally, more than 20% of low- and middle-income countries are off-track or seriously off-track from meeting the education Millennium Development Goal of empowering women and girls by achieving gender parity in education.
Why is girls' education important?
Why Girls’ Education? The inter-linkages between gender inequalities, economic growth and poverty are the main reasons why girls’ education is a smart investment For developing countries to reap these benefits fully, they need to unleash the potential of the human mind. Educating all their people, not just half of them, makes the most sense for future economic growth.
Systematic exclusion of women from access to schooling and the labor force translates into a less educated workforce, inefficient allocation of labor, lost productivity, and consequently diminished progress of economic development. Evidence across countries suggests that countries with better gender equality are more likely to have higher economic growth.
The benefits of women’s education go beyond higher productivity for 50 percent of the population. More educated women also tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their children, all of which eventually improve the well-being of all individuals and lift households out of poverty. These benefits also transmit across generations, as well as to their communities at large..
What is the World Bank doing to support girls' education?
Over the past five years, more than half of World Bank education lending has promoted gender equality in education, including specific interventions targeting girls.
Looking at recent progress and challenges, why is it crucial to ensure that the 3.4 billion girls and women on the planet have the same chances to gain an education as boys and men? First, education is a human right that is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is also a strategic development investment.
The World Bank has embraced the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and, particularly, “eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education” because evidence across countries suggests that countries with better gender equality are more likely to have higher economic growth.
The World Bank is a partner and one of many players in the international drive to improve gender equality and empower girls and women and gender concerns are central to the new Education Strategy 2020, “Learning for All.” The World Bank recognizes that many of the benefits of schooling for girls, whether in terms of employability, income, health, or their own children’s development—depend on what they learn while in school and addressing the multiple sources of disadvantage that many girls face through a systemic, evidence-based approach.
Since the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien in 1990, the Bank’s emphasis in the area of girls’ education has increased and gender equality has been integrated as an important component of the Bank’s poverty reduction mission. The new Education Strategy 2020 and the forthcoming World Development Report, “Gender Equality and Development,” reinforce the World Bank’s ongoing commitment to gender equality.
Recent World Bank projects supporting girls’ participation in education have helped yield the following results:
- Bangladesh: enrollment of girls in secondary schools has risen to over 6 million from 1.1 million in 1991
- Burkina Faso: 55 percent female enrollment in the 20 most underprivileged provinces in 2006, compared to 36 percent in 2000
- Cambodia: a scholarship for girls enrolling in secondary school raised transition rates from primary to secondary school by 30 percentage points
- Pakistan: 400,000 girls received stipends to go to school in Punjab, Pakistan's largest province
- Yemen: 30,000 girls attend school as a result of conditional cash transfer schemes introduced in 2008 and 2009
Who are we working with?
The World Bank works closely with other development organizations on Girls' Education issues. It has developed partnerships to help identify interventions that improve girls’ education outcomes and to provide resources necessary to support countries implementing such initiatives. The World Bank is an active member of the global partnership for girls’ education and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), which comprise of the following donors:
- Department for International Development (DFID),
- Global Campaign for Education