• Violence at school

 

Too often marriage is seen as a higher priority than education. The low value attached to girls’ schooling means few other options are available to them. Boys can be affected but most victims of child marriage are girls. It is estimated that every year 15 million girls are married before they turn 18. After their wedding they leave the education system and, because they have fewer educational skills, they and their families are more likely to live in poverty. There are child marriages in every part of the world, including Europe and north America. But the highest rates of girls under 18 getting married are in Niger (76%), Central African Republic and Chad (both 68%). In many parts of the world, girls who are pregnant – regardless of their circumstances – will be excluded from school. Many do not return after giving birth due to those rules, stigma, fees, lack of childcare and the unavailability of flexible school programmes. About 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 and some one million girls under 15 give birth every year—most in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.
Not only is this a violation of their human rights, it is also one of the most common causes for girls to drop out of school. An estimated 246 million girls and boys are harassed and abused on their way to and at school every year – with girls particularly vulnerable. In Africa, half of all children said they had been bullied at school. 18 million girls aged 15 to 19 are victims of sexual violence – often leading to school dropout and reinforcing cultural practices such as early marriage.
The lack of female teachers in some countries can make school a daunting experience for girls. The presence of more women would provide a girl-friendly environment that would put young girls at ease. In the United States, about three-quarters of school teachers are female. But in African countries such as Liberia and the Central African Republic only about one in five primary teachers are women. Part of the reason for that is the lower number of girls completing primary school, let alone secondary – leaving a small pool of female candidates.
Girls often stay home to take care of younger siblings and bear the main burden of housework. While educating a boy is considered a sound investment, it is sometimes considered to be a waste of time for girls. Many girls begin working as early as five years old – mainly in agriculture or in homes as domestic servants. Child domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to trafficking, forced labour, sexual violence and many health issues. There are more than 168 million child labourers – 11% of all children in the world – who are working instead of learning. There are significantly more girls than boys working in service industries.
Funding is an important issue when looking at reasons why girls aren’t in school. Education for girls is often the lowest budget priority in many countries. Daughters are perceived to be less valuable once educated, and less likely to abide by the will of the father, brother or husband. Often male siblings will be given the chance to attend school instead. But educating girls and young women increases a country’s productivity and contributes to economic growth. Some countries lose more than $1 billion a year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys.

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