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  • Salia M.

Analytical Education Insight: The Struggles and Progress of Girls' Education in Liberia



Liberia, a West African nation, has long struggled with one of the lowest rates of girls' education in the world. This concerning situation can be attributed to a myriad of factors such as poverty, cultural norms, and gender-based violence (UNESCO, 2020). However, numerous initiatives have been launched to address these challenges and improve girls' enrollment and retention in schools. This analytical insight delves into the current state of girls' education in Liberia, the obstacles they face, and the impact of interventions.


According to the World Bank (2020), the gross enrollment rate for girls in primary education in Liberia was only 93.1% in 2019, significantly lower than the global average of 108.5%. Furthermore, the gender parity index (GPI) for primary education in the same year was 0.87, indicating that there were only 87 girls enrolled for every 100 boys (World Bank, 2020). This substantial disparity highlights the severity of the issue and the need for urgent action.


Poverty is a significant factor influencing girls' education in Liberia. The country has a high poverty rate, with approximately 50.9% of the population living below the poverty line in 2019 (World Bank, 2021). Consequently, families often prioritize boys' education, as they are perceived to have a higher potential for income generation (Liberian Ministry of Education, 2017).


Cultural norms and practices also contribute to the low enrollment and retention rates of girls in Liberian schools. Early marriages and teenage pregnancies are prevalent, with 36% of girls aged 15-19 being married or in a union and 31% having had at least one child (UNICEF, 2020). These factors impede girls' ability to continue their education.


Gender-based violence, both within and outside of schools, poses a major threat to girls' education in Liberia. A study conducted by Plan International (2017) revealed that 48% of female respondents had experienced some form of violence or abuse in schools, leading to poor attendance and high dropout rates.


In response to these challenges, several initiatives have been implemented to promote girls' education in Liberia. For instance, the Liberian Ministry of Education's 'Girls' Education National Policy' (2016) aimed to enhance gender equality in education by addressing the barriers girls face in accessing and completing their education. Moreover, international organizations such as UNICEF and USAID have collaborated with the government to provide financial support, teacher training, and community engagement programs (UNICEF, 2019; USAID, 2020).


Early results of these initiatives have shown promising signs. For example, the World Bank's 'Girls' Access to Education' project, which started in 2017, reported an increase in girls' enrollment in targeted schools by 20% in just three years (World Bank, 2020). However, it is crucial to continue investing in girls' education and addressing the existing barriers to ensure a more equitable and prosperous future for Liberia.


The low rate of girls' education in Liberia can be attributed to factors such as poverty, cultural norms, and gender-based violence. Although progress has been made through various initiatives, continued efforts are required to ensure that all girls in Liberia have equal access to quality education and opportunities for success.


Liberia has one of the lowest rates of girls' education in the world. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), only 64% of girls in Liberia are enrolled in primary school, compared to 75% of boys. This gender gap is even wider in secondary school, where only 42% of girls are enrolled, compared to 62% of boys.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the low rates of girls' education in Liberia. These include:

  • Poverty: Many families in Liberia cannot afford to send their daughters to school.

  • Cultural norms: Some cultural norms in Liberia discourage girls from going to school. For example, some parents believe that girls should stay home and help with household chores.

  • Gender-based violence: Girls in Liberia are at risk of gender-based violence, such as early marriage and sexual assault. This can prevent them from going to school or staying in school.

Impact of Initiatives Aimed at Increasing Girls' Enrollment and Retention in School


There are a number of initiatives that have been implemented in Liberia to increase girls' enrollment and retention in school. These include:

  • Free tuition: The government of Liberia has made primary education free for all children, regardless of gender. This has helped to increase girls' enrollment in primary school.

  • Scholarships: There are a number of scholarships available to girls in Liberia. These scholarships can help to cover the cost of school fees, uniforms, and other expenses.

  • School feeding programs: School feeding programs provide free or subsidized meals to students. This can help to attract girls to school and keep them in school.

  • Gender-awareness training: Gender-awareness training is provided to teachers, parents, and community leaders. This training helps to change attitudes and behaviors that discourage girls from going to school.

These initiatives have had a positive impact on girls' education in Liberia. The number of girls enrolled in primary school has increased, and the gender gap in education has narrowed. However, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. These challenges include:

  • The need to increase access to education, especially for girls in rural areas.

  • The need to address the root causes of poverty, such as unemployment and lack of access to healthcare.

  • The need to change cultural norms that discourage girls from going to school.

The government of Liberia is committed to addressing these challenges and to ensuring that all Liberian girls have access to quality education.


References:


Liberian Ministry of Education. (2017). Education Sector Analysis. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000383314.


Liberian Ministry of Education. (2016). Girls' Education National Policy. Retrieved from https://www.issuelab.org/resources/24657/24657.pdf


Plan International. (2017). Unsafe Schools: A Literature Review of School-related Gender-based Violence in West Africa. Retrieved from https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/Pnacu253.pdf

 

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