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Plan International the global children’s charity released a report entitled “Because I am a Girl” on October 11 showing that from about 30 million primary school-aged children not in school on the African continent, the vast majority were girls and warned of dire consequences for the goal of universal primary education in 2015 if left unchecked.
The “Because I am a Girl” report is part of the charity’s campaign to fight gender inequality, promote girls rights and lift millions of girls out of poverty.
The report revealed that although the scrapping of school fees which occurred in many African countries had resulted in more than 50 million children being enrolled in primary school over the past 10 years, at least 29 million children remained out of school.
Girls’ enrolment rate was particularly seen as quite impressive despite the numerous challenges they faced including societal ones showing an increase in enrolment rates by 20 percent to reach 74 percent, although millions continue to be out of school.
Plan International’s report on Ethiopia indicated no exceptions to the trend. Despite significant national variations to the girls’ enrolment rate, overall enrolment rates leaped more than two fold to reach 75 percent from a measly 30 percent rate.
However, it also shows the transit rate from primary to secondary education across Sub-Saharan Africa for girls was less impressive, with less than a quarter of secondary school-aged girls being enrolled in secondary education despite the Sub-Saharan average of 62 percent.
Gezahegn Kebede, regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa of Plan International, said studies have shown that supporting girls’ education is one of the single best investments that can be made to help break the vicious cycle of poverty.
He also said providing education for girls leads to improving maternal health, reduce child mortality, improve household nutrition and increases the potential workforce with opportunities for economic growth as well as being an essential part of human rights.
Statistics show that although pre-primary enrolment has risen by 4.6 million in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade, it remains the lowest in the world at just 17 percent, while it was shown that only 16 countries in the region have achieved gender parity in primary education.
Plan on its part unveiled its call for a minimum of nine years schooling for girls and boys which ensures a better transition to the critical stage of secondary education.
Plan International, which has passed its 75th year founding mark, is one of the world’s oldest and largest continuous child centred community development organizations operating in 68 countries worldwide, and in 2011 alone, it worked with 58,000 communities reaching over 56 million children.