What Works in Girls' Education

Factsheet 3

What Works to Get and Keep Girls in School

Photo Credit: Malin Fezhai / HUMAN for Malala Fund

A full course of schooling, from early childhood education through finishing secondary school, is key to unlocking our global potential. There is a strong evidence base that shows us what works for ensuring girls to go and stay in school, including strategies for reaching the most marginalized and out-of-school girls.

Making Schools Affordable

Girls in the program twice as likely to re-enroll over those not in program.

Eliminating school fees and off-setting indirect costs of girls' schooling with financial resources has been an effective strategy for enrolling and keeping girls in school all over the world. For example, in Malawi a cash transfer program that gave money to families on the condition their daughters attend school at least 80 percent of the time helped to double the re-enrollment of adolescent girls who had previously dropped out.

Addressing Girls' Health

$3.50 = 1 additional year of schooling.

Ensuring girls from poor households have access to proper nutrition and healthcare such as deworming medication, meals, and sanitation facilities makes them more likely to attend school.

Deworming had a positive impact on increasing girls’ and boys' school attendance in Kenya at a small cost of $3.50 for each additional year of schooling induced.

Reducing Time and Distance To School

As distance from school increases, attendance decreases.

Evidence from countries around the world has shown that building schools that are close to a girl's home can help boost her attendance by cutting down the distance she has to travel. Furthermore, community schools that are placed in the village and staffed with local teachers can have an even bigger impact by closing the cultural distance, allowing girls to feel comfortable and confident at school.

Developing Girl-Friendly Schools

Girls learning together.

Making schools girl-friendly includes a variety of interventions, such as ensuring there are strict policies against sexual abuse and exploitation, teachers are trained on gender equality, and clean water and safe toilets are available.

For example, schools in Burkina Faso that implemented a multi-faceted intervention to make schools more girl-friendly increased girls' enrollment by 6.6 percent and boosted academic performance.

Sustaining Education During Emergencies

Image of ruler, book, and pencil.

Restoring education is crucial for protecting and caring for children during the difficult conditions of humanitarian emergencies. Even amid conflict and crisis, one can find ways to help girls and boys continue their education, although it may not be delivered in a school. For example, formal education was disrupted for child refugees in Uganda who fled conflict in the Democratic Republic

of Congo, but a majority of these children were able to continue their education in child-friendly spaces. Seventy-five percent of girls and 71 percent of boys attended. For girls in particular participation improved their mental health and wellbeing and increased their social skills, compared to children who did not participate in the program.

Promoting Strategies for OUT-OF-SCHOOL and Marginalized Adolescent Girls

For many marginalized girls, completing basic education is even a significant challenge. It is important not to forget those girls who have been forced to drop out of school, especially because there are many evidence-based strategies to provide alternative educational paths for these adolescent girls.

For example, in many countries, girls who become pregnant are forced out of school and not allowed to return due to outdated policies and the attitudes of teacher and parents. However, programs that target communication, policy, and teacher training have been effective at changing these attitudes. In Zambia, such a campaign increased teacher support for re-admitting pregnant girls from 69 to 84 percent and parental support from 47 to 75 percent in just three years.

Bar graph of change in support due to campaign in Zambia.

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