Education is necessary to economic development. Those who can read, calculate, and think critically have better economic opportunities, higher agricultural productivity, healthier children, and better reproductive health. So why are so many girls in the developing world missing out?
Despite the fact that educational opportunities have made great strides worldwide, girls in some developing countries still receive little or no education. In some cases, verbal and physical abuse, insufficient sanitation, and long travel time between home and school make schooling unsafe for girls. Yet cultural practices are the main reasons why parents do not reinforce the importance of schooling for their daughters. In fact, in many societies, girls are not asked to make economic contributions to their families but instead, are expected to take care of family members and perform household chores and tasks. Furthermore, girls are not seen as a good investment, as they leave upon marriage. And so the cycle begins whereby girls are believed to be less worthy of education and so they receive less than their counterparts.
Yet economists like Lawrence Summers, a former Harvard University president and former director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, have stated that educating girls may be the single highest return investment available in the developing world. Educating girls not only gives them opportunities to socialize, gain knowledge, and acquire the skills and confidence needed to improve their personal well-being and life, but their education also benefit their families and the societies they live in.
Benefits To Educating Girls
• Higher incomes: World Bank studies find that one more year of primary education eventually boosts a person’s wage rate by 5 percent to 15 percent on average. One more year of secondary school can also boost a person’s eventual wage rate by 15 percent to 25 percent on average.
• Economic growth: Economies that do not make use of the skills of half their potential workforce are at a disadvantage relative to those where men and women are contributing. Educated mothers invest more in their children’s schooling, therefore improving the development economic prospects. They are also likely to have fewer children which allows families to invest more in the health and education of each child, thereby raising the productivity of future generations.
• Family well-being: Educating girls creates healthier families. Mothers with education use their knowledge to improve the health of their children and other family members. They provide better nutrition for their children and their knowledge of health risks protects their families against illness and generally promotes health-seeking behavior.
Written By Elena Schloss