Ahead of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, UN data reveals an increase of over 6% in the number of girls not in primary school, in just one year. This is a key metric for UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: achieving quality education for all, which now appears to be moving in the wrong direction.
In response to the worrying revelation, Bridge Liberia is launching a new campaign called #GirlSuperPower calling on Liberian policy makers to prioritize the need for gender equality in education.
Equal education for girls is an unfulfilled promise for the majority of the poorest families in Liberia . Around half a million girls in Liberia according to the World Bank Group are still out of school, and for them equality remains elusive. Liberia is no different to the rest of the world. According to the latest UN reports, the number of out of school girls at primary level sits at 60%. Girls usually have to overcome multiple hurdles to access the same learning opportunities as boys. Around 16 million girls worldwide sits between ages 6-11 never enter a school as a student.
This new campaign focuses on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills for girls. STEM skills are traditionally gendered as ‘male’ subjects in many low and middle income countries. The new campaign highlights how young girls in underprivileged communities are pursuing their dreams of becoming doctors, engineers and mathematicians, against the odds.
The stars of the new campaign highlight the way with a good school, a great teacher and a chance to learn; girls can defy expectations, challenge stereotypes and escape poverty.
There are real trailblazers who show how STEM education can be truly transformational for young girls. Lucia is just ten-years-old; aspiring President from Liberia and attends a LEAP school run by Bridge. Lucia says ‘I love to read the English books, loving books is good because I want to be educated. I want to be President, I will make people happy when I am President.’
Marcus Wleh, Bridge Liberia Country Director said, “Girls in low and middle income countries like Liberia almost need superpowers to gain a decent education. It is deeply disappointing if the number of girls being failed is on the rise despite ongoing international efforts. We know that when given a chance in the classroom girls excel, but they often have to defy the odds and overcome near impossible hurdles to reach the classroom. The good news is that many girls are aspiring to a better future thanks to transformative Bridge Liberia schools all across Liberia. We are working to make that the norm rather than the exception.”
Nine in ten children in Liberia are not learning the most basic reading and maths, and if you’re a girl the situation is especially bad around the country.
According to a release from Bridge, 63% of girls in the poorest households living in the poorest countries complete primary school; young women are nearly 85% more likely to be out of secondary school than their counterparts in Liberia; almost half a million girls of upper secondary school age are out of school according to World Bank and 226,772 girls of primary school age in Liberia are out of school, according to UNICEF.
A key reason most children in the world are not learning is that there is a chronic shortage of opportunities to learn, especially for girls. This can be because there simply is no local school, or if there is a school it’s not a place of real learning.
Marcus Wleh continued, “ “We believe that a major element in the solution to improving girls education in Liberia and achieving SDG4 is to enable a wider range of partners to support the improvement of school. That’s why we are so proud to be part of the Liberian Education Advancement Programme (LEAP) and working closely with the Liberian Government on improving education.
Creating more opportunities to learn is a challenge that the UN and global leaders are united in tackling. Billions of dollars are being channeled towards this cause. Solving this issue will unlock talents, raise standards of living, boost economies, and even improve health and security. As Gordon Brown rightly said, this is the civil rights struggle of our time.
In Liberia, the #GirlSuperPower Campaign is expected to see an array of high achieving women drawn from civil society, government, NGOs and other sectors at a launch event at the Kendeja Public School in Paynesville.
Liberian women stakeholders will attend a campaign event with a panel discussion on 20th September 2018 on the topic ‘‘Using education as a tool for girls empowerment,’ several Bridge students predominantly girls, will also be in attendance.