Education is a basic human right. It should be made available to everyone, whether male or female.
Too often however, children face immense barriers to education including due to war, poverty, discrimination, or violence in their communities. The challenge is not just to ensure that children go to school (access to education) but also that they stay in school (complete their education), and benefit from it (development of skills, access to opportunities, etc).
War, conflict and natural disasters can displace children and their families and destroy educational facilities. Children may be kept out of school because their parents cannot afford the costs of schooling. They may be forced to work to help support their families, or be kept at home to help with domestic chores. They may be afraid to go to school or unable to concentrate on their studies because they face discrimination or violence in or around school, including from their peers and school staff. Children living in extreme poverty and remote areas may not even have schools to go to. Poor parental or community support and involvement that does not value or prioritise education also contributes to children’s education being neglected.
Across the globe girls are disproportionately affected by lack of access to education, and lack of opportunities to reap the benefits of education. According to a 2013 UNESCO report (Education for All Global Monitoring Report), there are 31 million girls of primary school age not in school, and of these more than half are expected never to enter school at all. There are 4 million fewer boys out of school than girls. In addition, there are 34 million adolescent girls not in school. As adolescence is a critical life stage when girls are developing the self-esteem, knowledge and capacity to develop skills for work as they grow into adults, their lack of education can have serious and debilitating lifelong effects.