Why we are concerned about girl education

We are guided by the Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes #1, which reminds us that “[t]he joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.”

Millions of girls are suffering, and we should be concerned and move fast to change their situation. Their life and dignity as human beings created in the image of God are under serious threat. While policymakers have long recognised the instrumental and transformative power of girls’ education for social and economic development outcomes and as the world’s best development investment, our call to protect girls is first and foremost a moral imperative.

Education is a basic human right and lack of it is already making life difficult for girls. Every child has the right to a safe, formal, quality education and access to lifelong learning. Education is a tool by which girls are empowered to exercise their agency, make their voice heard, and access their first leadership opportunities. Being out of school doesn’t just have devastating consequences for girls’ life opportunities – it places them at risk of teen pregnancy, child marriage, female genital mutilation and other forms of gender-based violence. Education is critical in tackling harmful gender norms, and empowering girls to drive change. It gives girls the skills to become leaders, innovators and change makers, and to tackle future crises.

Investing in girls’ education transforms communities, countries and the entire world. Girls who receive an education are less likely to marry young and more likely to lead healthy, productive lives. They earn higher incomes, participate in the decisions that most affect them, and build better futures for themselves and their families.

Girls’ education strengthens economies and reduces inequality. It contributes to more stable, resilient societies that give all individuals – including boys and men – the opportunity to fulfil their potential. But education for girls is about more than access to school. It’s also about girls feeling safe in classrooms and supported in the subjects and careers they choose to pursue – including those in which they are often under-represented.

What we must do

We must transform education so that, wherever they are, no girl, boy, young or not so young person is deprived of their right to a quality education. No exclusion is acceptable.

Schools should not exclude anybody, they should accept every girl, boy, or young person, and make them feel welcome, cared for, protected, stimulated, and supported.

A good education develops each student´s capacity for learning the fundamental building blocks of knowledge: literacy, numeracy, and basic scientific thinking. It also includes basic socio-emotional skills.

A good education also enhances the life-long capacity to learn and re-learn necessary skills for the rapidly changing world of work.

Crucially, a good education develops every person´s values and the capacity to live together in peace; to respect and appreciate human diversity, gender equality, and human rights; and to exercise an active commitment to sustainable development.

Teachers need the conditions, the wages, the resources, the autonomy and the respect they deserve in order to be able to transform education.

If properly harnessed, connectivity and openly accessible digital teaching and learning resources can contribute to the transformation and democratization of education.

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