Investing in Girls’ Secondary Education in Developing Countries

Quality, relevant secondary education is
critical in affecting outcomes of young people’s lives and the well-being of
communities and nations. Particularly important, is secondary education of
young girls. The returns to girls education have been shown to be greater than almost any other investment you can make in development. Girls who have more education, earn more, they have fewer children, their children are healthier, they tend to marry later. Girl’s education improves economic returns, improves health, improves human rights, and can improve conservation as well. The goals of our investment in girls’ secondary education are to improved girls’ access and learning quality. The Foundation has made an initial set of
investments in Nigeria, Uganda and India, in projects projects that seek to improve teacher skills, assess the
impact of information technologies on learning, increase girls’ demand for secondary education, and best teach twenty-first century skills. We are funding pilot projects and engaging in a proactive learning
process from those projects. The foundation has been involved in supporting a school and northern
Uganda, the Pader Girls’ Academy. It’s a unique model that helps girls
affected by a legacy of conflict in that region. The educational facilities and system in Uganda, they are what give rooms for girls with babies, and pregnant girls access to education. So, Pader Girls’ became very necessary in supporting these girls, their integration process for education and rehabilitation. And… to me, it makes me proud. They know that
it’s my right to study. So, in addition to the funding we do in Nigeria, Uganda, India, and elsewhere, we work at the global level to really build a robust policy and an
evidence-based that helps to channel resources and expertise to these countries
and elsewhere. We went about this initially through finding research
through the Brookings Global Compact on Learning. The Global Compact on Learning has been influential on Global Education First, an initiative of
the U.N. secretary general. MacArthur is also supporting for the post-primary education initiative at MIT’s Poverty Action Lab. We’ve seen a massive success across the
developing world of kids going to have primary education.
But that’s left us with a challenge. A lot of these kids now want to go into
secondary school. The Primary Education Initiative says “Let’s be strategic,
and let’s fund specific pieces of research to build a sensible expansion of secondary
education.” In 2012, we reached out to other donors that had similar interests and proposed that we collaborate to address key gaps in knowledge and
challenges. And so, we want to be a partner to other players in this process and
recognize what the greatest contribution is we can make within the larger ecology. I think of the Foundation, as a flexible and
risk-taking agent, can bring creative solutions to the attention of
other actors that have the resource space to scale them up, operationalize them, and enhance opportunities that girls
have to achieve secondary education. When I came back to school it was a big surprise. It was amazing. And… I believe there’s something good going to happen in my future, because I still have hope.

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