New Age Islam
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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 23 March 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Girls Education: Bedrock of Social and Economic Development



By Sonika Rahman, New Age Islam

23 March, 2015   

Mumtaz did not tell her family members that some boys have started harassing her on the way to her school, grabbing her hand and shouting, “kiss me".  She knew if she disclosed the incident, she would get the blame of encouraging them to do so.  And she was right when her family members came to know of this incident, they banned her going to high school. They were upset and concerned for their “family honour", if she was sexually assaulted. They are now arranging to get her married, forcibly. She is just sixteen.

Shazma is luckier; her mother is determined, one day she will become a doctor. But there are 70 students in a class at her school, and the teachers often simply don't turn up. The drinking water tanks are so filthy the students bring their own water. "I have never gone to a toilet at school in all these years, they are so bad," the 14-year-old says. She doesn't know how, but somehow her mother saves 900 rupees a month to pay for private tuition in three subjects.

Deeba is not a single girl who becomes very sad, when she hears the sound of the school bell. She loves the white head scarf and black uniform of school, but unfortunately her father hates them. Her father says “I don’t let my daughter go to high-school because we are from traditional society. “If I let my daughter to go to school then my relatives will say bad things about me.”

These are only three examples of those girls who want to continue their studies of secondary and upper secondary levels. But because of social and financial and family problems they do not continue their studies. There are 65 million girls around the world out of school and even more who struggle every day to remain where they belong– in the classroom. The extent to which girls are disproportionately excluded from education is higher at the secondary level than in primary education and increases further from the lower to the upper secondary levels.

Education A Second Priority for Girls:

In some developing countries, girls’ education is not considered a priority. Girls are seen as a burden, fit for housework and daily kitchen chores. They are adapted to think that their focus should be their husbands, children and family. Education would be aimless for them in this scheme of things. They are blinded to opportunities that laying getting educated.

15-year-old Naghma says, “I am the first child of my parents. I have a small brother at home. If the first child were a son, my parents might be happy and would be confident as their future is assured by having a son. But I am a daughter. I complete all the household tasks, go to school, again do the household activities in the evening, and at night only I do my school homework and study. Despite all the activities, my parents do not give value or recognition to me. They only have compliment for my brother, as he is the son.” 

Women are at the heart of most societies. But disinterested of whether they are working or not, mothers are very impressive retinue in children’s lives. So educating girls is one of the most important investments that any country can make in its own future. Education has a profound effect on girls’ and women’s ability to claim other rights and achieve status in society, such as economic independence and political representation. As the following examples vindicate, having an education can make an enormous difference to a woman’s chances of finding well-paid work, raising a healthy family. 

Education Is Essential To Change The Society And The Object Of Education Is To Prepare The Young To Educate Themselves Throughout Their Lives:

The right to education is a core human right. It should be free and compulsory for every child; every child should have access to primary, secondary and higher education. This is affirmed in international human rights agreements, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Economical, Social and Cultural Rights. Despite of these conventions, the implementation of the right to education remains problematic, particularly for girls, thereby limiting their development and future perspectives. The Millennium Development Goals, which set targets in Goals 2 and 3 to achieve gender equality in education before 2015, are unlikely to be met by many countries.

It is very true that educating girls helps to make family, societies and communities healthier, wealthier and safer, and can also help to reduce child deaths, improve maternal health. We need to make much better progress. There is growing international commitment and consensus on what can be done to improve girls’ education. The leadership we will provide, with others in the international community, to ensure equality of education between men and women, boys and girls.

In many countries and communities in both the developed and the developing world, parents can take it for granted that their daughters receive a quality education. Yet in many other places around the world, providing every child with an education appears to be beyond reach.

Some Main Challenges That Make It Difficult For Girls to Access Education:

The cost of education, poor school environments the weak position of women in society– ensuring that society and parents value the education of girls, Conflict– ensuring that children who are excluded due to conflict have access to schooling; and social exclusion– ensuring girls are not disadvantaged on the basis of caste, ethnicity, religion or disability.

Influential Factors That Are Essential To Promote Girl Education:

Education is central to development and to the improvement of the lives of young people globally. It is true that knowledge and education are important reasons to the full and effective participation of youth in the processes of social, economic and political development. Increased attention to improving participation rates of young people, particularly marginalized youth, is needed to ensure that they acquire the knowledge, capacities, skills and ethical values needed to fulfil their role as agents of development, good governance, social inclusion, tolerance and peace. Main focus on universal access to education, quality education, human rights education and learning, as well as increased access to the complementary nature of vocational, formal, informal, and non-formal educational practices in a non discriminatory manner, particularly for young women, is key for young people to be able to address their aspirations and challenges, fulfill their potential, and influence current and future social and economic conditions and opportunities.