Inclusive and Quality education

Education is one of the most powerful means to achieve gender equality, to acquire literacy as well as life skills, and to encourage active civic engagement for girls. This is also articulated by Burnice from Kenya:

“By empowering young people with education, they can make informed choices about their lives. Through inclusive education, they can eliminate challenges and they can empower themselves. When we make education accessible to all, there will be empowerment and development that will make young people able to support themselves.”

But today, large numbers of out-of-school children are excluded from access to quality education because of social, economic, and cultural stigma and discrimination. The inability of governments and the global community to guarantee an appropriate quality education to all children not only constitutes a huge personal loss, but also limits their potential contribution to society and country.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated challenges for those most marginalized and excluded children. It’s estimated that 11 million girls might not return to school this year due to COVID-19’s unprecedented education disruption. This not only threatens decades of progress made towards gender equality, but also puts girls around the world at risk of adolescent pregnancy, early and forced marriage, and violence.

During conflicts and crises, girls’ right to education is also severely affected: they are almost 2.5 times more likely to be out of primary school, and nearly 90% more likely to be out of secondary school than their counterparts in countries not affected by conflict. These challenges are heightened for girls with disabilities, who are less likely to go to school and are often considered non-productive members of society. In fact, children with disabilities are 10 times less likely to attend school than those without. Even if they attend school, they are more likely to drop out early while the level of schooling they receive is often below that of their peers. This is an important factor affecting the confidence of girls living with a disability. 

For Hajar from Italy accessibility is the key and it is the biggest problem: “Education should be accessible and free for everyone. The opportunities each kid has are different, but all children should be put to the same level and all barriers of any kind (infrastructure, material, accessibility in terms of family and community support) should be eliminated.”