Girls in many parts of Africa face extraordinary obstacles to get an education. However, Senior Gender Coordinator for USAID, Susan Markham, explains the almost immeasurable value that such an opportunity can provide.
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How does giving girls a proper education impact their health and well-being? Education is essential to fight poverty and all its corollaries: hunger, disease, resource degradation, exploitation and despair. In low-income countries, mothers who have completed primary school are more likely to seek appropriate health care for their children. A child born to a literate mother is 50 percent more likely to survive past the age of 5.
As President Obama said, if a country is educating its girls, if women have equal rights, that country is going to move forward. That’s why the United States is launching Let Girls Learn, a new effort to raise awareness about the importance of allowing all girls to pursue a quality education. Because an educated girl is a force for change.
No matter what country, a free library is the soul of a community. It protects the past, preserves the present and assures the future. In order to teach a million Zambian children to read better, they need to practice. The Lubuto Library gives them a place to do just that.
We are in rural Zambia, and it took about two minutes to realize that I was in the presence of a good teacher. Since 2010 when USAID committed to getting 100 million more children reading and learning — 1 million in Zambia — we’ve helped that country boost teaching skills in the rural schools serving thousands of kids that live too far from public institutions.
The United States is making an investment in Malawi — almost $100 million dollars over five years. But how is this going to change day-to-day life for a girl like Martha? The answer: “If Martha learns to read, she will be a more informed adult. If she can’t read, she’ll stick to the old ways of doing things.”
Two hundred and fifty million children in the world cannot read according to the recently released Education for All Global Monitoring Report, Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All; 130 million of them are in primary school. If these children do not learn to read they will have fewer opportunities and struggle with learning for the rest of their lives.
Early Grade Reading Assessment is an essential tool in our educational toolbox as USAID invests in teaching 100 million children to read in 39 countries around the world.