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The findings > Thematic Studies> Girls Education>Part 2
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THE STATUS OF GIRLS' EDUCATION
 
Progress Over The Decade
 
This section provides a global overview addressing enrolment growth and the gender gap followed by regional summaries. The information presented here is gleaned from country EFA assessments as they became available. Because assessments were by necessity not carried out identically, comparable information was often not available across countries.
 
Net enrolment ratios (NER) have risen in some countries in all regions of the world . While in developed countries net enrolment rates were already universal or close to it in 1990, the average level of NER in the developing countries was 85.6 percent for boys and 77.2 percent for girls. The levels are projected to be 87.9 percent for boys and 81.5 percent for girls in 2000.
 
Primary net enrolment ratios for primary school girls have risen in all regions since 1990 and are projected to increase further up to 2010. This also means that the absolute number of girls in school has risen in all regions since 1990 and is projected to increase further up to 2010. However, because of population growth and the tendency for less progress to have been made in the areas with higher growth, the absolute number of girls of primary age (worldwide) out of school has risen since 1990 and is expected to continue rising up to 2005.
 
Enrolment Growth
 
Net enrolment ratios have grown overall, and girls' enrolment ratios have grown substantially over the past decade. As Table 1 indicates, girls' enrolment has grown more than boys' in all regions of the developing world, particularly in East Asia and the Arab States. However, the growth has not been 'accelerated' and girls are still less likely to be in school than boys.
 
In the Arab States, there appears to have been a contraction in the net enrolment rates of boys at the primary level at the same time as there has been an increase at the secondary level. The reasons for this are unknown and it should be a cause for concern. Girls' enrolment levels at primary level have increased at above average rates and there has been significant growth for females at secondary level within the region.
 
In all regions, the secondary level has grown more strongly than the primary. Without a more in-depth analysis, it is impossible to state precisely the reasons for this. The expansion of the more expensive secondary level may indicate that the more affluent members of society are disproportionately enrolling their children in secondary school. Another explanation could be that the different starting levels are the reason for the higher growth rates at secondary level; the primary level would be more constrained by ceiling effects. Since the primary level enrolment is higher to start with, an increase of a given size would form a smaller proportion of the enrolment .
 
 
Gender Gap
 
It is sometimes argued that if the general trend in girls schooling is up, then one should not worry unduly about whether the gender gap is narrowing or widening. Why it matters refers to the basic reason why differentials exist in the first place. A persistent gender gap is highly suggestive that the underlying causes of disadvantage and discrimination against women and girls are not being addressed meaningfully.
 
It is sometimes argued that if the general trend in girls schooling is up, then one should not worry unduly about whether the gender gap is narrowing or widening. Why it matters refers to the basic reason why differentials exist in the first place. A persistent gender gap is highly suggestive that the underlying causes of disadvantage and discrimination against women and girls are not being addressed meaningfully.
 
Worldwide, the gender gap in enrolment ratios is closing. However, this overall figure masks considerable regional variation in both the starting level and the degree of improvement. As can be seen in Table 2, in 1990 South Asia and the Arab states had the highest gender differentials, (17 and 12 percentage points respectively). Both regions have narrowed this differential, by approximately 5 percentage points. Sub-Saharan Africa was the third highest in terms of gender gap, but despite the fact that net enrolment ratios for both boys and girls have risen, the gender gap has widened by 0.7 percentage points in this part of the world.
 
Gender parity in all aspects of education is a goal for universal basic education. However, if countries are characterised by gender parity this does not necessarily mean that equitable conditions exist for girls and boys in school; neither does gender bias in favour of girls (as in Botswana, the Philippines, Lesotho, and countries in the Caribbean) indicate that conditions have become inequitable for boys. Qualitative aspects of schooling, such as, leadership opportunities for girls in the classroom and school, equal access to resources--including the teacher's time and attention, parents' and teachers' attitudes toward girls' aspirations and education, and the respect teachers and other students accord to girls (and boys) all factor in to the quality and equity of pupils' school experiences. Indicators of these qualitative factors have yet to be consistently developed, but descriptive information (less easily quantified) is also needed to point to gender equity in a school or an education system. These kinds of data are valuable, necessary, and need to be considered in future assessments
 
For reasons of economy, the data presented above are generally geographically aggregated. Urban and rural populations, populations of different traditions, religions, those living in remote mountain villages as well as those living in exclusive urban suburbs are all summed together. This aggregation frequently obscures the radical differences, not only in actual levels of educational participation but also in the constraints to participation and the kinds of strategies that can be used to address them. This is present even in small countries, but is particularly acute in large countries where remote and/or minority populations may have strikingly different rates of female and male educational participation than is the norm. Muslim populations in majority Christian countries (or vice versa), nomadic groups, or other minority groups may for all intents and purposes be living in a completely different country. The growth of the urban under-class living in slums and squatter settlements on the fringes of large urban areas in most developing countries is a notable development of the last decade. Girls and boys in these communities are very unlikely to attend school.
 
Some of this variation within regions and within countries is discussed below. This variation and the fact that some regions and nations are not making progress in this area make it very important that the closing of the gender gap remain an important objective within the Education for All movement.
 
Regional Profiles
 
Girls' disadvantaged position within the education sector is revealed through limited access; lower rates of representation at particular levels, rates of completion and rates of achievement, i.e., how well they do in learning assessment exercises. In addition, girls' representation in 'higher status' areas of study, the kinds of careers that they are able to enter, and in which careers they can advance are other indicators of girls' relative position in the system. The supports that encourage girls to succeed include inter alia literate women (including and especially literate mothers) and the presence and number of women in the teaching force. The profiles below take these factors into account as they reveal trends across the geographical regions of the world.
 
Eastern Asia and Oceania: Primary net enrolment rates have been increasing in all countries, although much variation exists in this broad region. Korea DPR and the Cook Islands have achieved universal access to primary education. China, Indonesia, Fiji, Samoa Thailand, and Malaysia are close to that goal. Other countries such as Cambodia and Viet Nam are making steady progress. Countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, and Korea DPR show gender parity in achievement as well as in access. In China, absolute gender disparity in NER narrowed from 1.8 percent to .14 percent, indicating that disparity in access between girls and boys basically has been eliminated.
 
On the other hand, gender imbalance characterizes most measures of education attainment in Papua New Guinea. Significant cultural attitudes militate against girls' education; approximately 10-15 percent more boys than girls entered first grade between 1992 and 1997. If young women do complete an education, the work culture provides few opportunities for them to be employed in supervisory and management positions.
 
In countries where important gains have been made there are still stubborn pockets of marginalized children--those belonging to ethnic or religious minorities or living in geographically remote regions. In these communities girls are particularly vulnerable to being left out of school . For example, in Lao, PDR, the gender balance of student enrolment nationally is 45 percent girls and 55 percent boys, but gender differences in primary school are even more prevalent in provinces with a high ethnic minority population. In one region males have a 114.7 percent GER compared with 76.2 percent for females; in another, 75 percent of the unenrolled children are girls.
 
The economic slump in this part of the world and the growing tendency for the state to partially or completely withdraw from funding even primary education forces parents to make a financially-driven decision about sending their daughters to school-a calculus that generally does not favour girls .
 
The situation for the region at the secondary level is less positive than for the large numbers of primary school children in the East Asia/Oceania region. Not only are overall rates of participation lower, but the gender gap is also wider--13 percentage points in favour of boys in Cambodia, 12 in Laos and 9 in China and Indonesia . Mongolia is an exception with a 20 percentage point gap in favour of girls. In Indonesia the transition rate for boys is increasing (currently 74.5 percent) but girls' transition rate has dropped dramatically from 74 percent (1992) to an expected 56 percent in 2000--below the 1990 rate of 57.7 percent.
 
Literacy rates vary widely between and within countries as well. Gender disparity in illiteracy rates in China has narrowed by 6.3 percent, yet regional disparities remain significant. Relative gender gaps in illiteracy rates have increased in 17 provinces and autonomous regions. Adult illiteracy rates in Qinghai and Tibet are as high as 43.6 percent and 54.1 percent respectively; gender disparities in these areas are even more striking. In Vietnam, there is an 8 percentage point gender gap in literacy rates for the 15-35 age group, but in the main labour force literacy rates have increased from 86 percent in 1990 to 95.6 percent in 1998, with no gender gap registered. Papua New Guinea reports a low literacy rate for females at 38 percent. There are more qualified women teachers than men in such countries as the Philippines, Kiribati, and the Cook Islands.
 
South Asia: In South Asia more than one-third of girls are unlikely to ever receive a formal education and adult women have the lowest literacy rate in the world. There have been some signs of improvement, however, with girls' enrolment at the primary and secondary levels growing more rapidly than boys'.
 
Variations within and between countries are particularly sharp in this region. In 1999 all countries except Maldives and Sri Lanka still fell under the World Bank low-income group with GNP per capita less than US$675. In Maldives, access to schooling is no longer an issue, but quality of education is, especially for schools on the outer islands. Primary enrolment rates in Bangladesh have climbed to 75 per cent for both boys and girls and the total enrolment level for all Bhutanese children of school-going age is 95 percent. Schooling rates for girls in Afghanistan have plummeted, however, following massive closings of girls' schools. Within India, the state of Kerala has an enrolment rate of 90 per cent while the rate for Bihar (due west of Bangladesh) is approximately 50 per cent.
 
Innovations to address these dramatic differences and low rates include a multi-sector partnership in the Indian city of Mumbai and The Intensive District Approach to Education for All (IDEAL) program in Bangladesh. The Pratham Mumbai Education Initiative has set up 1,600 pre-schools and renovated 1,200 primary schools in Mumbai. IDEAL promotes more child-friendly classrooms through training teachers about children's individual learning patterns. Also in India, the state of Andhra Pradesh conducted a "Back to School" programme; that is, transition classes for working children and 16,000 summer schools for 360,000 children in Grade One. Nepal and Bangladesh have designed policies and programmes to bring more women teachers into schools as a means of offering safety to and role models for girl students.
 
Nepal's 1991 census showed a literacy rate of 25 percent for girls six years and above. The literacy rate for women of the 18 and older age group was 18 percent. Most illiteracy in Nepal is found in the rural population that consists of both adults and school-age children who can not attend school. In Bhutan, issues around female literacy are not well known due to lack of research, but over 10,000 adults have been enrolled in non-formal education programmes, 70 percent of whom are women.
 
Attention to girls' education in South Asia is a "must." This region has the largest number of out-of-school children in the world-two thirds of whom are girls. Without concerted action in this region EFA will never be achieved.
 
Central Asia and Eastern Europe: A tradition of generally equal access to education exists in all of the post-socialist countries of Central Asia and Eastern Europe. In many countries, gender equality is written into fundamental laws or the national constitution. Women made significant advances in education under socialist forms of government, and current statistics on gender parity in education in most of the region reflect this progress. Some nations in the region such as Georgia and Kyrgyzstan report universal primary education along with gender parity on indicators such as persistence and literacy.
 
Education systems of most countries in this area are undergoing major changes, however. Most have suffered serious economic and social destabilization during the present transitional period. In the education sector, this has led to reduction in availability of teaching materials, diminished purchasing power for teachers, and increased numbers of dropouts. In Tajikistan, the number of drop-outs is increasing at all levels of education. Approximately 20 percent of boys and 25 percent of girls between 7 and 17 years old in rural areas did not attend school in 1996. The percentage of female students has fallen to almost one-third of the high school population and it is decreasing annually, as a result of material difficulties within the family, shrinking job opportunities for women, and educational priority being given to young men. Despite these grim statistics, the transition period in Central Asia has also allowed for some positive developments, such as, policy reform, and the introduction of new curricula and instructional methods.
 
Turkey's countrywide NER is 87.5 percent total, but the rate for girls lags behind boys by 10.3 percentage points. In Romania, a 1994 study of the Institute for Sciences of Education on functional illiteracy showed that 11 percent of the total functional illiterates among graduates of compulsory education were girls, while boys represented only 8.9 percent. Girls in this group are at a particular disadvantage, since non-formal education is more available to the male population (e.g., courses are organised for young men by the Ministry of National Defence during their military service).
 
In some of the countries struggling the most to develop a new economic and social environment, the introduction of higher educational fees have coincided with lower family incomes and sharp reductions in state support for education generally. In Bulgaria, for example, state funding fell by three quarters. In Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova and the former Republic of Macedonia heating of schools in winter is now very problematic.
 
A recent study conducted by UNICEF's International Child Development Centre suggests that not only are the standard of education and the enrolment levels falling, but that the egalitarian feature of the former system is also rapidly eroding. Ethnic and religious minorities and rural populations are being disproportionately affected, as are girls.
 
Western Europe: Nearly universal access to education has been achieved in Western Europe, with boys and girls equally represented in early childhood and primary education. Indeed, girls often achieve higher levels of education than boys. Persistent rates of high unemployment have plagued many parts of this region, however, so the focus of educational reform has centred on education for employment in information-based economies.
 
In many Western European countries, including Norway, high rates of illiteracy among minority and immigrant populations is of special concern. In Cyprus, overall illiteracy dropped from 6 percent in 1991 to 4 percent in 1997 and women's illiteracy rate dropped from 10 percent to 6 percent. In spite of the decrease in illiteracy in the female population, this percentage remains relatively high. This may be attributable to the fact that social conventions kept many older women, especially those in rural areas, from attending school.
 
One half of Ireland's population aged 25-64 years had not completed upper secondary education in 1996 compared to 62 percent per cent in 1989. The low relative ranking in this indicator reflects the low level of educational investment in Ireland up to thirty years ago. Women in this age group have more average years of schooling than men. However the position improves for the younger age groups. One-third (34 percent) of Ireland's population aged 25-34 years had not completed upper secondary education in 1996, and among young people aged 20-24 the percentage declined by the equivalent of 12 percentage points (from 38 percent to 26 percent) between 1989 to 1995.
 
In Finland, as in several other Western European countries, women have surpassed men in both enrolment and graduation rates, especially in tertiary education. Both education and employment continue to be divided into men's and women's fields, however, and have not become substantially less segregated over the past 20 years. In another example, vocational education in the Netherlands, only 11.5 percent of girls were enrolled in technical courses in 1997/98, while 86.8 percent were enrolled in non-technical fields of preparation. This represents only a slight change from 1990, when the figures were 10 percent and 90 percent respectively. Women in adult education, however, represented 63 percent of all participants in 1997/98.
 
Women's participation in the work force has contributed to the growth of early childhood education in a number of countries. In Sweden, for example, the majority of children between 1 and 12 years old now have a place in publicly funded childcare centre. In Ireland, by contrast, education for children under 4 years old is not well developed but nearly all 5-year-olds and more than half of 4-year-olds attend primary school. The participation rate among 4-year-old girls is four to five percentage points greater than that for boys.
 
In France as in many other countries in Europe, the majority of teachers are women. In 1998, about 77 percent of French teachers were women. In the Netherlands, the percentage of female teachers in primary education rose from 64 percent in 1991 to 76.8 percent in 1997, though at secondary level women accounted for only 25 percent in 1993 and 28 percent in 1997.
 
Arab States and North Africa: Early childhood care and development is receiving greater attention in this region, especially in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. Other countries like Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Djibouti are moving in the same direction. Iran has made great strides in rural areas and girls' attendance is now over 90 percent. In both Bahrain and Syria the gender parity index for early childhood care in pre-schools favors males, although the index for Syria has increased from .89 to .91.
 
Female primary net enrolments have improved except in Yemen, Djibouti and Mauritania, but girls in the 6-10 age group still have lower rates than boys (except in Jordan and Lebanon). The gap is widest in Yemen and Morocco. For the 11 to 15 year age group in the region, there has been an increase in the gender gap at primary level since 1995 . Egypt's primary education enrolment represents an increase in basic education of 12 percent over a five-year period. With 55.4 percent males and 44.6 percent females, this also represents a slight increase in gender parity, Girls are still more likely to drop out or repeat in this region, although there are exceptions. In Iraq repetition rates among males were higher than for females, but grade 4 achievement rates favoured males (57 percent) over females (43 percent). At the secondary level male enrolment ratios still exceed that of females everywhere except Jordan.
 
Based on achievement data from nine countries, girls scored higher than boys in the area of life skills and Arabic language. The results for mathematics were mixed, with girls outscoring boys in Oman, Palestine, U.A.E., Jordan and Kuwait.
 
Literacy rates vary widely. The rates are increasing in Bahrain but there is still a marked gender difference in the rates of 80.4 percent for men and 73 percent for women (according to population estimates of 1996). Iraq's literacy rate is 27.4 percent for males and females ages 10 and older, 20 percent for males and 34.5 percent for females. In Syria females' ability to read and write has risen strikingly from 60 percent to 73 percent over the past five years, an increase averaging 2.5 percent per year.
 
Regional efforts are being undertaken to make the promotion of girls' education a regional imperative with the creation of the Regional Task Force on Girls' and Women's Education, made up of women leaders from Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Iran. However, the persistent conflicts in some countries (Algeria, Sudan, the West Bank) and the sanctions against Iraq have disrupted schooling, particularly for girls.
 

The Republic of Yemen: Addressing Gender Disparities

The republic of Yemen faces special challenges in improving educational access, equity, and quality, since Yemen has one of the largest disparities in access in the world. In 1997, gross enrolment rates for boys and girls at the basic education level were 81 percent and 31 percent, respectively -- a 42 percentage point difference. The government, with World Bank support, is actively working to improve girls' enrolment rates. Central to the country's efforts are initiatives to build more schools in under-served areas, including girls-only secondary schools; increase the number of qualified women teachers and school administrators in rural areas; engage parents in the management of schools; and improve the quality of education. The government is also actively seeking ways to reduce the direct and opportunity costs of girls' education, since these are known to be key factors underlying girls' low enrolment and retention rates. Ministry of Education initiatives to decentralise and to increase efficiencies in education administration will also promote girls' school participation by loosening up resources for system expansion and improvement.

Source: World Bank: The World Bank and Girls' Education

 
Sub-Saharan Africa: Despite notable gains by African countries to ensure that every African child has access to quality basic education, only about 10 countries have achieved universal primary education. An estimated 41 million school age children are out of school, 56 percent of them are girls. Approximately 20 to 29 percent repeat a grade or more, and the number of students dropping out of school is increasing.
 
Most Sub-Saharan African countries have a gender gap that disadvantages girls. Chad's general enrolment increased by 14 percent from 1996 to 1998 but the gender gap widened by six percent from 1997 to 1998, after narrowing by two percent in 1997. The gender gap remains at 26 percent in both Chad and Benin.
 
Some countries in East and Central Africa experienced declining enrolments in early and mid 1990s (Kenya and Tanzania) but appear to be reversing this trend in the latter part of the decade. Swaziland had a large drop in net enrolment, decreasing from 93 to 80 percent between 1993 and 1996, due in part to the serious impact of HIV/AIDS on Swaziland. The pandemic costs Swaziland's educational system an estimated three to four teachers each week.
 
Adolescent girls are increasingly being seen as a group vulnerable to educational disruption-there is a high demand for their labour in the household, and many girls are still being married in their mid-teens. For those outside marriage, their age and gender make them easy targets for sexual exploitation, and consequently they generally record the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection . All these factors; household labour, early marriage, unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases-threaten their schooling and make them a priority target group for increased education in the next 10 - 15 years.
 
Sub-Saharan Africa had the second highest gender gap in 1990. Since then several regional initiatives have emerged; the Forum of African Women Educationalists (FAWE), the Female Education in Mathematics and Science in Africa (FEMSA) the NGO Alliance, the African Girls' Education Initiative (AGEI), and others. Advocacy and awareness-raising activities have brought about remarkable progress, and girls' enrolment has risen markedly in sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, despite excellent progress in some countries (Guinea, Benin and Senegal) there has been a slight overall widening of the gender gap.
 
Adult illiteracy, particularly among females, continues to grow, fuelled by high population growth and inadequate supply of educational services.
 
Latin America & Caribbean: Latin America has the highest literacy rates in the developing world--87 per cent, with women's literacy at 85 per cent. Enrolment rates for girls and boys at primary and secondary levels are high throughout the region. Quality is an important issue, however. Gross enrolment rates are usually over 100, implying a large percentage of overage students as well as high levels of repetition. In nearly half of the 21 countries for which data is available, at least 10 percent of the children are repeating grades. In Brazil the rate of repetition exceeds 15 percent. Guatemala's repetition rate is 28.4 percent nationally, ranging from 19 percent in Guatemala City to 36 percent in the department of PetÚn. The rates are slightly higher for boys than for girls.
 
Dropout rates are also high. One quarter of children entering primary school drop out before reaching the fifth grade. In Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua the dropout rate is at least 40 per cent . In Bolivia, primary enrolment slightly favors girls but only 42-54 percent of girls or boys finish fifth grade. Girls' rate of promotion in primary is slightly higher and the dropout rate is slightly lower for girls than for boys. More significantly, forty-two percent of girls finish school, compared to a mere 35 percent for boys.
 
Throughout Latin America, the enrolment levels are relatively lower and the gender gaps higher among certain parts of the population, particularly the indigenous Indians. Rural girls' dropout and repetition rates are twice as high as those of boys and the gender gap in primary completion is widest in rural areas.
 
Over the last two decades Brazil has experienced a rapid increase in the schooling of the female population. Net enrollment rates in primary education are high, graduation rates in primary education are going up, and more Brazilian females are also enrolled in secondary education. Most important is the rapid decline of illiteracy rates among younger women. The proportion of illiterates is significantly lower now among women than among men in all population groups up to the age of 39. Among the reasons for this are the entry of women into the labor market and the increasing professionalisation of the female work force, associated with higher aspirations for girls; and the reality that male children and adolescents are more often forced to leave school and work to increase the family income.
 
Latin America is also home to some of the most innovative educational initiatives, including community schools in Colombia (Escuela Nueva) and Guatemala (Nueva Escuela Unitaria) where girls actively participate in learning and have increased opportunities for leadership throughout primary school. New kinds of business and community partnerships support education in Brazil. And as Honduras recovers from the devastation of Hurricane Mitch, it has elected to restructure its education system, engaging in yet another innovation. Middle school education is being provided by radio to citizens throughout the country through partnerships with churches, private enterprise, donor partners, and NGOs.
 
North America: The United States has achieved education for all at the primary level and virtually all adults now have at least a primary education. However, not all students obtain a high school diploma. Among persons 25 to 34 years old, 87.9 percent of females but only 85.9 percent of males have completed secondary education.
 
As in most industrial countries, men and women in the United States persist in school at similar rates, though in recent years females have had a slight and growing edge. The event dropout rate for males in grades 10 to 12 rose from 4.0 to 5.0 between 1990 and 1997 and the rate for females rose from 3.9 to 4.1 during the same period.
 
Achievement presents a somewhat more complex picture, with girls doing better in reading and boys in mathematics and science, especially at advanced levels. Male students usually outscore female students in mathematics and science; in reading and writing female students tend to outperform males. In science, mathematics and reading the gender gaps in 1996 were not significantly different from those in early 1970s. As in almost every other country, academic achievement in the United States correlates closely with socio-economic status, that is, children from higher socio-economic backgrounds score higher on measures of achievement. Other inequities relate to the racial and ethnic background of students, gender, geography, mother tongue, and immigrant status. For children with disabilities, U.S. legislation has required since the early 1970s they be provided with the sort of education that will enable them to develop their skills and knowledge to the fullest extent possible. Programs at the national, state, and local levels support this policy for girls and for boys.
 
After Jomtien the USA set a goal of reducing the adult illiteracy rate, especially the disparity between male and female rates. In the International Adult Literacy Survey initiated in 1994 by nine countries, approximately one-fifth of U.S. adults scored at or above level 4 on all three scales (only Sweden scored higher). However, a disproportionate number of adults scored at level 1 (only Poland had a greater percentage of adults scoring at this lowest literacy level). Further analysis of the U.S. data showed a strong correlation between parental education and the literacy levels of youth
 
Key Aspects of the Girls' Education Discourse
 
In addition to changes in trends enrolment and dropout rates, gender parity indices, and other indicators of quantitative change over the past decade, key aspects of the discourse on girls' education have also shifted.
 
International awareness of girls' education as an issue has increased significantly. Educators, politicians, donors, and others--especially from countries with significant gender differentials--are now much more likely to cite gender specific data on enrolment, dropout, and achievement. Some countries have only recently begun to disaggregate data by gender and only a small minority of countries submitting EFA reports did not mention some aspect(s) of gender and education (e.g., gender parity in early childhood development, enrolment, repetition, completion, women teachers, women's literacy rates, gender-sensitive curriculum development).
 
Emphasis has also shifted from documenting barriers to engaging in advocacy and action. Practical aspects of girls' education issues have evolved from problem identification to moving into action. As a basis for advocacy and as a means of documenting girls' education issues early in the decade, it was often important for actors to 'discover' barriers and constraints to girls' education and to present the information to national or regional workshops of policy makers. But the key issues rapidly turned into questions of programming and implementation: What strategies could be adopted? How could they be monitored and evaluated for impact?
 
The formation of networks and partnerships developed widely over the decade, as awareness has grown of the complexity of the issues and the importance of networks for women's empowerment and for basic questions of democracy and freedom. Partnerships between organisations promoting girls' schooling and those promoting literacy for adult women, education on legal rights, economic empowerment, environmental protection and democracy are critical to those networks.
 
Educators now have a deeper understanding of the barriers to girls' education. Earlier conventional wisdom assumed that parents did not send daughters to school because parents felt girls were not worth educating. It is now obvious that relatively modest incentives have been sufficient to transform girls' enrolment rates. Tuition waivers in Malawi and organizing community schools with respected women teachers for girls in Balochistan, Pakistan are examples of this. We now know that if parents believe that schools are appropriate, safe, and of good quality, they usually will send the girls to schools willingly.
 
Finally the agenda has shifted from one of "making girls better mothers" to an agenda that encourages the autonomy and empowerment of women and girls. As Ramirez suggests, the discourse has moved from extolling the virtues of education in making girls better mothers, to asserting girls' and women's rights to education as their due as citizens of nation states to be on a par with fellow male citizens, to demanding education in areas and for purposes that will empower and liberate them; for example, in controlling their fertility.
 
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