During the latest G7 summit in mid-June, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a pledge to improve education for girls around the world as the members discussed a way to recover the world after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am calling on other world leaders, including those here at the G7, to also donate and put us firmly on a path to get more girls into the classroom, address the terrible setback to global education caused by coronavirus and help the world build back better,” he said in a statement.
The UK government therefore pledged to distribute £430m over the span of five years to 90 of the world’s poorest countries.
Schools in many of these countries have been forced to cease their classes due to the spread of the virus, partly because a lot of students could not afford remote learning tools.
It was already difficult for them pre-pandemic to go to school, and distant learning has proven to be impossible for the children. Students in Malawi have to walk five to six kilometers every day in order to reach school.
Class disruptions may have pushed many kids, especially girls, permanently out of the education system, even after the pandemic subsides.
Girls in low-income economies are particularly vulnerable, as they face inequality not only from their economic status but also their gender. They are subjected to risks of forced marriage, sexual harassment or getting pregnant prematurely. All only increase the odds that these girls may never go back to school, which has been a case for many of them.
The economic background is also a major factor forcing girls out of the education system. In the worst case, they never have a chance to go to school at all. The UK Bangladesh Education Trust (UKBET), which focuses on a problem of child labor in domestic work, reported about a 9-year-old girl in Bangladesh who never went to school as she had to work as a maid to help support her family.
Boosting educational equality for these girls could help reduce disparity in education and healthcare, and strengthen security for a nation. It can also be a key factor helping low-income countries escape poverty.
“Supporting girls to get 12 years of quality education is one of the smartest investments we can make as the world recovers from Covid-19. Otherwise we risk creating a lost pandemic generation,” Johnson said.
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