Saturday, June 25, 2005

Educating Girls

The New York Times has a really interesting editorial today about the benefits of educating girls, particularly in the developing world. They cite a report by Save the Children that has some pretty amazing findings. Among them is this one:

“The more time girls spend in school, the better their chances of breaking the cycle of poverty and becoming mothers who raise healthier children and send their own children to school – girls and boys,” said O’Gara. “Investing in girls’ education also leads to increases in income, both for individuals and for nations as a whole, over several generations.”

Save the Children says that 58 million primary-school age girls worldwide are not in school, but that some poor countries are making dramatic gains, including Bolivia. In the rural communities I visited there, women were much more likely than men to be illiterate and mono-lingual Quechua (an indigenous language prevalent throughout much of the central highland valleys) speakers, meaning many never even went to primary school, which until recently conducted classes only in Spanish. It seems like the introduction of bilingual education programs (Quechua-Spanish, Aymara-Spanish, etc) - along with some other education reforms - has encouraged more parents to send their girls to school (completion of primary school has risen from 10 percent to 78 percent). Although Bolivia seems to be jumping from one crisis to another these days, this is really encouraging news.

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