It’s estimated that 15 million girls around the world will never set foot in a classroom.
The classroom is a place to learn lessons, develop skills, and form lifelong friendships. Classrooms are where the sparks of new ideas and innovations are ignited. They are where tomorrow's scientists, teachers, doctors, and entrepreneurs first develop their passions.
Yet for many girls around the world, the classroom remains out of reach. School infrastructure and approaches to teaching are developed without considering their unique impacts on girls. This creates space for gender biases to influence school planning and management.
These gender biases also inform social norms. Many families believe that educating boys results in a higher return on investment. This leads to lowered academic expectations for their daughters and greater pressure placed on girls to find alternative means to support their family. This may be realized through shouldering a greater burden of household work, dropping out of school to earn a living, or, in more extreme cases, entering into early and forced marriage.
Teachers are not immune to these gender biases, either. Faced with overcrowded classrooms, they must be strategic in how they deliver their lessons. They may unintentionally cater to boys who have higher rates of attendance and participation.
Results from the first phase
of our UK-aid funded work for girls’ education in Kenya
0%increase in mean literacy scores
0%of girls report improvements in teacher attitudes
0%increase in community support for girls’ education
For every 10 refugee boys enrolled in secondary school, there are fewer than 7 refugee girls.
The barriers to girls’ education are heightened in refugee camps and contexts. Resource-strapped families are already struggling to meet their basic needs and have few available funds to spend on education.
Meanwhile the education facilities available to refugee youth are designed as temporary solutions and do not meet long-term education needs. In today’s protracted refugee crises, many youth have been born and raised in these contexts which can hardly be classified as temporary.
All refugee youth face barriers to accessing quality education in these settings. Refugee girls, however, face double discrimination due to their gender and refugee status. As a result, refugee girls are more likely to underperform in school. This leads many girls to drop out early. By the final year of highschool, very few young women remain.
Yet it is in these refugee contexts that education is more important than ever. Education can play a key role in securing durable solutions for youth and their families.
WUSC is increasing access to quality education for refugee girls in Kenya.
In 2016/2017, we continued our work to help youth, particularly girls and young women, access education in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps and surrounding host communities in Kenya. Through these efforts, we seek to not only improve attendance, but also their retention and success.
Helping girls get through the door is only one part of the solution. Supporting them to stay there in the face of incredible obstacles is key.
Success depends upon a multi-faceted approach. Over the past five years, we have:
- informed gender-sensitive improvements to infrastructure at 30 schools;
- worked alongside dozens of teachers at 89 schools to adopt gender-responsive pedagogy to better engage female students;
- provided targeted support to hundreds of girls through remedial classes aimed at both the top performers and those most at risk of dropping out;
- offset the costs of girls’ education for marginalized families, including through the provision of scholarships; and
- engaged the community through multi-channel awareness campaigns that build consensus about the importance and value of girls’ education.
In our latest phase of UK Aid-funded programming for girls’ education in Kenya, launched in 2017/2018, we are building upon these successes to establish an even more sustainable impact for girls and their families.
Looking ahead, we seek to find new ways to reach the most marginalized girls while ensuring our program activities benefit all youth in and around the camps.