BY TAONGA SABOLA:
A recent report by the World Bank has revealed that limited education opportunities for girls and barriers to completing 12 years of education cost countries between $15 trillion and $30 trillion in lost lifetime productivity and earnings.
According to the report, titled Missed Opportunities: The High Cost of Not Educating Girls, less than two thirds of girls in low-income countries complete primary school and only one in three girls complete lower secondary school.
The report says, on average, women who have a secondary education are more likely to work and they earn almost twice as much as those with no education.
Other positive effects of secondary school education for girls, according to the report, include a wide range of social and economic benefits for the girls themselves, their children and their communities.
These include near-elimination of child marriage, lowering fertility rates by a third in countries with high population growth, and reducing child mortality and malnutrition.
World Bank Chief Executive Officer, Kristalina Georgieva, said, in a statement, the world cannot keep letting gender inequality get in the way of global progress.
“Inequality in education is yet another fixable issue that is costing the world trillions. It is time to close the gender gap in education and give girls and boys an equal chance to succeed, for the good of everyone,” Georgieva said.
The report says over the past two decades, many countries have reached universal primary education, and that girls’ enrollment at the primary level in developing countries rivals that of boys. But this is not enough.
Much larger benefits of education, as the analysis finds, would come from completing secondary school.
Malala Fund co-founder and Nobel laureate, Malala Yousafzai, said, when 130 million girls are unable to become engineers or journalists or CEOs because education is out of their reach, the world misses out on trillions of dollars that could strengthen the global economy, public health and stability.
“If leaders are serious about building a better world, they need to start with serious investments in girls’ secondary education. This report is more proof that we cannot afford to delay investing in girls,” Yousafzai said.
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