The UK Department for International Development has announced a plan to invest close to £100 million in an effort to help 175,000 of the poorest girls around the world get an education.
Expected to be included in the initiative are smartcards that will keep track of attendance and offer incentives to families to ensure that their daughters attend school. In addition, satellite broadcasts will be used in order to improve connectivity in rural areas, reports Tim Sculthorpe for The Daily Mail.
It is broadly held that putting girls through school will help to end poverty in the long-term.
International Development Minister Nick Hurd said: “It is only through making use of the latest technological innovations that we will reach every girl. Already in Kenya, thanks to UK-funded attendance monitoring software, satellite broadband connectivity and interactive learning platforms, we have seen attendance increase by 15% in schools we work with.”
The iMlango program is currently being put to use in over 200 schools in Kenya, offering students and teachers access to Android tablets and contactless attendance cards that keep accurate data for schools that is then used to offer incentives to families to keep their daughters in school. In addition, schools are offered high speed connectivity through satellite, which allows the use of technology in hard to reach areas, as well as an interactive learning platform that offers students access to lessons in English, math, and life skills. Tests estimate that using the platform increases scores by between 15 and 25%.
The investment, announced at the first Girls’ Education Forum in London, will offer money to countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, Malawi, and Rwanda, as well as Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Nepal.
Julia Gillard, chair of the charity Global Partnership for Education, said: “Investing in girls and women isn’t just morally right, it is essential for the development of families, communities and countries. When we educate girls, we see reduced child deaths, healthier children and mothers, fewer child marriages and faster economic growth.”
The forum brought together the UK government with Global Citizen and CHIME FOR CHANGE in an effort to bring attention to the issue of girls’ education and encourage universal, high-quality education for all.
Estimates suggest that close to 63 million girls around the world currently do not attend school, with over half of these girls living in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of those who do attend school are not getting the support they need, which can cause them to drop out. Around two-thirds of women in those areas are thought to be illiterate.
According to a report published last year by Unesco, the UN educational, scientific, and cultural organization, fewer than half of countries have achieved gender equality in primary and secondary education even though commitments had been made to ensure all children went to primary school by 2015. The report found that no countries in sub-Saharan Africa had achieved gender equality on this front, writes Liz Ford for The Guardian.
The forum advocated for new commitments to help improve learning for girls around the world in order to give the poorest girls an opportunity to learn and to help them go on to secondary education. The purpose of the forum was to form a concrete plan to make a global commitment to ensure that all children receive a quality primary and secondary education by 2030.
In the last five years, the UK has made efforts to help 11 million children receive an education by training 177,000 teachers, building classrooms, and ensuring that the poorest children have scholarships and textbooks to allow them to attend school. This work is expected to continue through 2020.