“The surest way to keep a people down is to
educate the men and neglect the women.”
-Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey
Girls who graduate from secondary school in developing countries:
- Are far less likely to become HIV/AIDS positive
- Have greatly reduced infant mortality rates
- Plan their families and have far fewer children
- Provide greatly improved health care for their children
- Are more likely to send their children to secondary school
- Break the cycles of poverty
- Break the cycles of exploitation including human trafficking
- Have delayed marriage ages and reduced domestic violence
- Are economically and socially empowered
Most girls in sub-Saharan Africa do not complete secondary school and suffer the consequences of poverty, disease and exploitation.
A number of factors contribute to this dilemma
- The costs of secondary education in most developing countries are prohibitive for families living in poverty – and most families live in poverty
- Young uneducated girls are often forced into early marriage
- Young uneducated girls are often lured or forced into child labour.
- Young uneducated girls are often lured or forced into human trafficking
- Amongst some, educating girls is considered a waste of money and violates culture
- Under-resourced overcrowded primary schools may have failed to adequately prepare children for the academic rigours of secondary school
- Parents/caregivers of uneducated girls are not aware of the broad benefits of secondary education for the well-being of their families
What we believe
We need new norms:
The well-intentioned but outdated U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on education sets basic (primary school) education as the educational goal for children worldwide. We believe primary school without completion of secondary school leaves children, especially girls, functionally illiterate, unsocialized and uneducated. These are the girls who wind up as human traffic, remaining in poverty and subject to early marriage. The new norms must include completion of secondary school, given the benefits of secondary school for the girl-child.
We need Ethical Standards for Education:
Just as the legal, medical and accounting professions have ethical standards or rules based on ethical principles they must follow, so too must education have Ethical Standards. Ethical Standards for Education would set rules and standards for levels of achievement and quality of education.
The demand for secondary education among girls and their family’s needs to increase:
Although the prohibitive costs are one barrier to girls completing secondary school in developing countries, lack of awareness of the benefits of girls secondary education is another, compounding the problem. There needs to be a greater demand for secondary education amongst girls and their families by increasing the awareness of the benefits of girls’ secondary education.
New and more secondary schools need to be built near primary schools in rural areas:
It is well known that when there is a nearby secondary school to primary schools in rural areas in developing countries, including in Uganda, then children have more vision and incentive to enroll in and complete secondary school and parents have more motivation to raise the costs of secondary school education.
Parents and caregivers must “use what we have” to educate the girl-child:
As Universal Secondary Education programmes in Uganda and throughout the developing world expand and further develop – and this will take time – parents and caregivers must “use what we have” to educate the girl-child. As many educated youth who hail from war and poverty-affected communities will testify, parents and care-givers can do more to educate the girl-child. Examples: cultivating more of their existing land for additional agricultural production, and taking on additional income generating activities, knowing that sending their girl-children to secondary school is an investment in the well-being of their families. That said, many households are so vulnerable, such as child-headed households and households headed by people-living-with-AIDs that such strategies are not feasible. Overall, however, more parents and caregivers, once sensitized to the benefits of secondary school education for their girl children can walk the extra mile. Strategies and action plans to sensitize parents and care-givers will make a difference.
Communities and society should support government policies that advance girl-child education:
Uganda is an example. Uganda’s Universal Primary Education (U.P.E.) and Universal Secondary Education (U.S.E.) programmes and policies have achieved great strides in closing the gender gap between girls and boy’s primary and secondary education enrollment, retention and completion rates. At the current rate of progress, the disparity between girls and boys educational and academic achievement rates will have achieved parity in the foreseeable future. At the same time, closing the gender gap by itself does not increase the numbers or percentages of both girls and boys who complete secondary school. Communities and society must be sensitized to the successes and opportunities of government policies that are geared toward advancing girl-child education while pro-actively advancing and supporting strategies that increase the completion rates of the girl-child in primary and secondary education.
Creative, imaginative solutions must be advanced, in collaboration with local and central government, local institutions and international partners:
One such innovative solution is UMECS E-Factor Project.™
What is The E-Factor Project ™ (E for Education)
The E-Factor Project™, a collaborative initiative between UMECS and the Faculty of Medicine at Gulu University in Northern Uganda is driven by the passion to leverage massive funding to invest in girls’ secondary education as an integrated strategy to meet essential public health and education goals.
Specifically, the project is designed to substantially increase the enrollment of girls in secondary school by integrating girl child education with HIV/AIDS prevention strategies. This project can change the landscape in Northern Uganda, throughout Uganda and sub-Saharan Africa.
Throughout the developing world, sub-Saharan Africa and Uganda, only a small fraction of girls graduate from secondary school. As a result, girls do not become functionally literate, economically empowered or socially developed. They remain uneducated with a low status in society. Uneducated girls are the most likely to contract HIV/AIDS and to be exploited in child labour, child marriage and human trafficking. As global partnerships and government policies work to close the gender gap between girls’ and boys’ secondary education and make universal secondary education accessible to all children and youth everywhere – a process that will take time – innovative, imaginative programmes and projects are needed to advance girls’ secondary education. Girls need to be educated now – while they are young.
The E-Factor Project™ is based on this premise: Girls who graduate from secondary school in developing countries including in Uganda are far less likely to become HIV/AIDs positive than girls who do not.
In other words, the completion of secondary school by girls in developing countries is a great preventer of HIV/AIDS.
Two for the Price of One
We say investing in girls’ secondary education should become part of the public health funding community’s strategy to prevent HIV/AIDS.
The advantage to this strategy is that new HIV/AIDS infections are greatly reduced, and, girls are economically and socially powered by secondary school education. Two for the price of one.
Important multiplier effects accompany this strategy:
- Other killer diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia are greatly reduced
- Girls who complete secondary school are much less likely to be exploited by child labour, child marriage and human trafficking than girls who do not
- Infant mortality is greatly reduced
- Girls who complete secondary school have greater access to quality health care, family planning and reproductive health services
- Social and economic empowerment, personal development and rise in status and self-esteem
- Girls who complete secondary school are far more likely to send their children to secondary school, breaking the syndromes and cycles of poverty
Global health agencies, foundations and international donors generously pour billions of dollars into HIV/AIDs prevention programmes each year with a major investment in sub-Saharan Africa where HIV/AIDS rates are catastrophic throughout much of the continent. However, they do not invest in girl’s secondary education as an HIV/AIDS prevention strategy
The purpose of this project is not to divert planned expenditures away from current strategies and targets. The project purpose is to leverage opportunities for global health agencies, foundations and donors to consider the additional strategy of supporting girls’ secondary education on a substantial, monitored and evaluated basis as a means to achieve the dual goals of HIV/AIDS prevention combined with the economic and social empowerment of girls through the benefits of secondary school education.
This cross cutting project has the following components:
- Project planning and collaboration with key stakeholders – central and local government, schools, research institutions, global public health agencies, community groups, women’s groups, civil society organisations, private sector.
- Research: Linking the relationship between HIV/AIDS prevention and girls’ secondary education and the cost-effectiveness of girls’ secondary education as a strategy to prevent HIV/AIDs
- Advocacy and Mobilisation: Project youth and advocates will mobilise the benefits of girls’ secondary education among out-of-school girls and their parents and care-givers in local communities in Northern Uganda, helping to create a demand. Project staff will dialogue and advocate project goals with global health agencies and foundations to bring them on board as project partners.
- Launch a pilot in Northern Uganda in partnership with government and global health community partners.
- Pilot launch activities:
- Massive secondary school building initiative in Northern Uganda
- Resourcing new schools with 21st century technology, books and science labs
- Hiring new and additional teachers for new and existing schools
- Providing professional development for teachers
- Resourcing new schools with administrative capacity and adding administrative capacity to existing schools whose enrollment are increasing
- Providing infrastructure for new and existing secondary schools as needed
- Sensitizing communities, out of school girls, their parents and caregivers on the new opportunities for girl child secondary school enrollments
- Providing support for secondary school fees, uniforms and scholastic materials for new enrollees, both boys and girls, with a focus on the girl child
- Establishing a comprehensive evaluation plan
We chose Northern Uganda as the initial geographic project coverage because Northern Uganda is a post-conflict area greatly affected by HIV/AIDS with a gender gap between girls and boys secondary education enrollment and completion. Overall, fewer than 30% of children in Northern Uganda complete secondary school, girls less than boys. Furthermore, the twenty-year war in Northern Uganda (1986 – 2006) destroyed schools and infrastructure. Reconstruction efforts are still ongoing. Although government policies and global partnerships are striving to make Universal Secondary Education a reality for all children in Uganda, this will take time.
Our goal: to pilot the project in Northern Uganda, scale throughout Greater Northern Uganda and mainstream countrywide.
Secondary school-age girls who are out-of-school and unable to afford the costs of secondary, technical and vocational school are the primary targets of this project.
Both girls and boys will benefit as this project include building new secondary schools, providing full infrastructural needs, hiring additional teachers, teacher professional development and enhanced administrative support for existing secondary schools.
- To shift the paradigm of separation between public health and public education, specifically linking HIV/AIDs prevention with girls’ secondary education
- To target out of school girls to close the gender gap, and to enroll both girls and boys
- To massively enroll girls in secondary schools, with monitored completion strategies through support with school fees, uniforms and scholastic materials
- To build a substantial number of new secondary schools near primary schools
- To hire new secondary school teachers to teach at new and existing schools
- To provide infrastructure, equipment, books, science labs, technology and administrative capacity to new and existing secondary schools
- To monitor and evaluate the project through an evaluation plan that captures quantitative and qualitative data and impact to decide upon project scale and mainstreaming goals
- Through research and evaluations, to test the cost-effectiveness of girls secondary education to prevent HIV/AIDS measured against existing strategies.
- The paradigm of separation between public health and public education is shifted to link public health strategies with public education, specifically linking HIV/AIDs prevention with girls’ secondary education
- Out of school girls are massively enrolled in secondary schools with school fee, uniforms and scholastic materials support
- Monitored, technically assisted strategies for girls to complete secondary school are successful
- The gender gap between girls and boys secondary school enrollment and completion is closed
- A substantial number of new secondary schools are built near primary schools
- New secondary school teachers are hired to teach at new schools and existing schools where enrollment rates have increased
- School infrastructure, equipment, books, science labs, technology and administrative capacity to new and existing secondary schools have been provided
- The implemented M&E plan captures quantitative and qualitative data and impact to decide upon project scale up, mainstreaming and future project stages
- The cost-effectiveness of girls’ secondary education to prevent HIV/AIDS is measured against existing HIV/AIDS prevention strategies.
Broadening Educational Opportunities for All
The E-Factor Project™ is part of UMECS Broadening Educational Opportunities for All. For more information about our strategies, please Read Broadening Educational Opportunities for All
More information on the relationship between girls’ secondary education and the prevention of HIV/AIDS
How Change Happens