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close this bookDefeating Hunger and Ignorance - Food Aid for the Education of Girls and Women (UNESCO - WFP, 34 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPREFACE
View the documentINTRODUCTION
View the documentFEMALE EDUCATION: ANOTHER GAP TO BRIDGE
View the documentREASONS FOR THE UNDER-EDUCATION OF WOMEN AND GIRLS
View the documentFROM CAUSE TO EFFECT
View the documentTHE ADVANTAGES OF FEMALE EDUCATION
View the documentFROM IDEAS TO CONCRETE ACTION
View the documentWFP AND EDUCATION
View the documentWFP SUPPORT TO EDUCATION OF WOMEN AND GIRLS
View the documentLESSONS LEARNED AND FUTURE ORIENTATIONS
View the documentBIBLIOGRAPHY
View the documentBACK COVER

FEMALE EDUCATION: ANOTHER GAP TO BRIDGE

The education of girls and women has been a central concern of the international community for at least the last decade. Though much progress has been made since the World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien, Thailand, 1990), the situation of women’s education remains deeply worrying in several Third World countries.

38.3% of women are illiterate in developing countries, while their illiteracy rate in the least developed countries is as high as 61.9%. The worst affected regions are sub-Saharan Africa (52.7% illiteracy rate for women), the Arab states (55.8%) and South Asia (63.4%)1.

1.The statistics are drawn from UNESCO’s Statistical Yearbook, 1997.

Female illiteracy has a direct impact on the schooling of girls. Areas with the highest illiteracy rates for women are also those with a low enrolment rate of girls in schools. In Sub-Saharan Africa for example, only 52.2% of girls are enrolled in the three levels of schooling2 (primary, secondary and higher); this figure falls to 50.8% in Arab states and to 43.3% in South Asia.

2.These are gross enrolment ratios. The ratio is obtained by dividing the total number of pupils in a specific level of education, without reference to their age, by the population of the age group corresponding to that educational level according to the national education system.

The table opposite indicates gross enrolment ratios in schools and gender-based illiteracy rates in the regions and groups of countries where girls have least access to schooling.

Gross enrolment ratio by level of education and illiteracy rates by gender (1995)

Sub-Saharan Africa

Male

Female

1st level

80.7

67.1

2nd level

26.9

21.6

3rd level

4.6

2.5

All levels

45.5

37.2

Illiteracy rate

33.5

54.0

Latin America and the Caribbean

1st level

112.0

108.8

2nd level

53.9

59.3

3rd level

17.6

17.0

All levels

69.6

69.1

Illiteracy rate

12.3

14.5

South Asia

1st level

105.5

82.1

2nd level

53.4

35.0

3rd level

8.2

4.6

All levels

59.4

43.3

Illiteracy rate

37.1

63.4

Arab States

1st level

91.7

75.6

2nd level

58.4

48.8

3rd level

14.5

10.5

All levels

61.6

50.8

Illiteracy rate

31.6

55.8

Developing countries

1st level

105.0

93.0

2nd level

54.2

43.9

3rd level

10.4

7.4

All levels

61.1

52.2

Illiteracy rate

21.1

38.3

Least developed countries

1st level

78.2

60.7

2nd level

22.5

14.1

3rd level

4.6

1.7

All levels

41.3

30.5

Illiteracy rate

40.5

61.9

Source: Statistical Yearbook, UNESCO, 1997