All girls need 12 years of quality education
The first report of the Platform for Girls’ Education is launched today, analyzing barriers to girls’ education and what works to dismantle them.
January 21, 2019 by Jeremy Hunt, United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and Amina Mohamed, Kenya's Ministry of Education
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3 minutes read
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Second grade student Elizabeth Wairimo at Nyamachaki Primary School, Nyeri County, Kenya. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Second grade student Elizabeth Wairimo at Nyamachaki Primary School, Nyeri County, Kenya
GPE/Kelley Lynch

This blog post is authored by the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary, and Amb. (Dr.) Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kenya.

Over 130 million girls around the world will not attend school today – and over half of all school-age girls fail to achieve minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics. Although 193 member states of the United Nations have committed to ensuring their children receive a quality education by 2030, it remains a distant reality for millions of girls.

Urgent action is needed. Tackling this problem is not only the right thing to do, it is also a smart investment to help build more prosperous, fair and resilient societies. Educated girls have access to more opportunities, are less susceptible to harmful practices such as child marriage, earn more, and have healthier families. Last year’s Commonwealth Summit in London helped raise the profile of this agenda, with a shared commitment to expand opportunity for 12 years of quality education for all.

Between 2015 and 2018 the UK Government spent on average nearly £700 million a year on education through bilateral programs; supporting 11.4 million children to gain a decent education, of which at least 5.6 million were girls. During 2018, the UK pledged an additional £400 million for the second phase of the Girls’ Education Challenge; this means that up to 1.5 million marginalized girls are now being supported to receive a quality education.

We need an even greater collective effort to ensure that the next generation of girls do not face a life of poverty, illiteracy and unfulfilled potential. That is why we are co-chairing the Platform for Girls’ Education, which brings together a group of political leaders, experts and advocates from around the world to galvanize political will for this important cause.

Today we are delighted to announce the publication of the Platform’s first report “12 Years of Quality Education for All Girls: A Commonwealth Perspective”. Written by the University of Cambridge, the study provides fresh analysis and insights into the barriers to girls’ education in Commonwealth countries, and the measures that are needed to dismantle them. As home to over half of the world’s out of school children, Commonwealth countries have a major role to play in realizing the global goals on education and there is much we can do to learn from and support one another.

The report suggests that governments across the world need to target more funding to the early years of education, especially for girls in remote rural areas. It also highlights the need for targeted approaches to help girls overcome the many challenges they face as they reach puberty.

A recent project in Kenya implemented ‘community conversations’, which aimed to tackle harmful norms that lead to early marriage. These conversations were found to decrease levels of girls’ dropout from school and increase attendance.

In Jamaica, the Women’s Centre Foundation helps to reintegrate girls into secondary school after they have given birth, through a combination of academic tuition, nursery provision, and other health services. Participants are more likely to complete their education and less likely to have a second pregnancy. The report provides many other examples of what works to provide more girls with a quality education.

We encourage you to read this important report, which takes us a step closer to understanding better how we can achieve a world where all children have access to quality education. The task for governments and educationalists now is to learn lessons and implement the best models at scale. For that, we need visible political commitment from countries across the world and sustained investment of resources.

We must keep up the momentum to ensure that the world’s poorest girls complete 12 years of quality education. We are deeply committed to this issue and will work together with Cabinet colleagues and with the Platform for Girls’ Education to promote concrete action.

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Kenya has been a GPE partner country since 2005 and has received grants totalling close to $210 million from GPE. The United Kingdom has been a long-time donor partner to GPE, contributing the biggest share to the GPE fund to date.

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