The Transforming Education Summit - A moment of peril or promise for girls’ education?

Advocates for girls' education ring the alarm: the topic must be addressed meaningfully at the Transforming Education Summit called by the UN Secretary-General. Read what the leaders of Girls Opportunity Alliance, Malala Fund and Educate Girls have to say.

September 07, 2022 by Tiffany Drake, Girls Opportunity Alliance, Suzanne Ehlers, Malala Fund, and Safeena Husain, Educate Girls
3 minutes read
Students at the Kigobe Reference Center for Inclusive Education. Burundi. June 2022.
Students at the Kigobe Reference Center for Inclusive Education. Burundi. June 2022.
Credit: GPE/Ingomag

The global education community is gearing up. On September 19, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a unique summit to consider the state of education worldwide following the unprecedented school closures caused by COVID-19.

Heads of State will discuss actions to put the world on track for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education and to transform education for the challenges and opportunities of our time. It’s no small task.

Policymakers have long recognized the transformative power of girls’ education for development. Experts characterize it as ‘the world’s best development investment,’ pointing to a host of social and economic co-benefits that flow from giving girls more, and better education.

Political attention and increased investment in girls’ education appears to be paying off. At the global level, the number of girls out of school is inching slowly downwards. Girls are also slightly less likely than boys to experience learning poverty — defined as being unable to read and comprehend a simple text by the age of 10.

But aggregate statistics can be misleading. Girls remain almost twice as likely than boys to never set foot in school. In poorer regions and countries, they lag far behind boys on many measures. And even when they do get to the classroom, girls have to contend with gender inequality, discrimination and exploitation in school and as they transition into the world of work and adult life.

Right now, the perils associated with COVID-19, climate change and conflict are causing major setbacks for girls’ education, with girls experiencing these crises first and hardest. Harmful gender norms can also cause reversals, most visible right now in the crisis in Afghanistan.

We need sustained investment and smart policies to secure progress on girls’ access to and completion of school, as well as to ensure that all learners — boys as well as girls — acquire the skills, knowledge and attitudes to create a gender-equal world, with all the attendant benefits that it would bring.

Grade five students at Phonsivilay Primary School, Meun District, Lao PDR.
Grade five students at Phonsivilay Primary School, Meun District, Lao PDR.
GPE/Kelley Lynch

In early August, the Transforming Education Summit’s Secretariat issued a concept note for the summit in September. There is much promise within it. It addresses many important priorities for transformation — digital education, teachers and teaching, and renewing curricula and pedagogy.

But these strategies will miss the mark if they fail to tackle gender inequalities that permeate education systems as well as communities and society at large. To our disappointment, the initial concept note did not reflect this reality.

A late-breaking edit to the agenda sees the inclusion of a dedicated leaders’ session on girls’ education in the main summit. This will provide a welcome opportunity to reaffirm existing standards for girls’ education rights as well as reflect on growing evidence around the potential for education to contribute to gender equality in wider society.

But mere talk is not enough. The session — and the summit as whole — must build on proven, gender-transformative approaches to education. Such programs aim to go beyond gender parity in enrollment, seeking to improve education quality and foster gender equality, including by challenging discriminatory norms.

By taking clear action in this area, leaders can unleash the transformative power of education — allowing it to play its full part in creating a world where girls and women can learn and lead at all levels of society.

That’s why we — along with other girls’ education advocates — will be out in force at TES, to call loud and clear for leaders to keep up the effort on girls’ education and gender equality in and through education. Girls and women around the world deserve nothing less.

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With collective effort we can achieve the goal of making girls education a success

Education is an emergency response in Nigeria

Education is something that needs emergency response thoroughly in Nigeria. Because of high number of out of school children, is disturbing day by day. Economic herdship contributed a lot, and lack of awareness of the benefits of education to the community. Education is something that will promote the progress of the nation, which lack of it will bring underdevelopment.

Education needs accurate response via monitoring, security inclusion, free asses, taking proper care of teachers etc.

Very well written synopsis of a critical issue facing our global community. Education inequality needs to be treated as the #1 problem our leaders focus on. I hope we can collectively achieve goal 4 & more.

Kudos to Malala Foundation, Girls Opportunity Alliance and Educate Girls for contributing towards reducing gender gap in education. In educate Girls we have been continuously trying to find newer ways to achieve our goal of making education accessible to every Girl. trying to To unleash power of Girls Education,we need to listen to the Girls themselves. In my last interaction with a group of girls, many of them reported a lack of teacher attention, which holds them back in their studies. According to their in-classroom experience, they felt teachers pay more attention to boys and are unnecessarily strict towards the girls in the class. The girls also demanded that they be digitally literate as it is a very important need of today and has emerged as critical during the pandemic time.
More specifically, girls demanded--
Free internet and gadgets available for online education; computer trainers in schools
Violence, sexuality, and menstrual health as an integral part of the curriculum
Training for life skills; Developing different ways of learning to include every student
Education and training that leads to work
Another interesting learning was that many Adolescent girls also expect increased extra-curricular activities and availability of sports items in the schools, which are either available only for boys or are non-functional. There is a perception that some kinds of sports are meant only for boys and not girls, which needs to be broken. The absence of female PTIs in schools increases this divide. That is why a considerable number of girls also put forth their demand for the appointment of female PTIs.

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