Rwanda Girls Initiative built the Gashora Girls Academy, an upper-secondary boarding school, in order to increase educational opportunities for girls in Rwanda. In Rwanda, 97% of girls go to primary school, but less than 13% attend upper secondary school (1). Secondary school capacity is very limited, so only those with the highest test scores are able to attend. Even for a bright girl who is qualified to attend, she may face obstacles to success and graduation – including household responsibilities and safety concerns.
The Ripple Effect
The societal effects of girls receiving educational opportunities are widespread: increased educational opportunities positively affect the economic earnings and productivity of the girl as she reaches adulthood, increases the health of both herself and her children, and is a key component to ending the cycle of poverty.
The return on investment for girls’ education is, on average, higher than for boys. One extra year of secondary school boosts a girl’s future wages
In Africa, children of mothers who receive five years of primary education are 40 per cent more likely to live beyond age five.(3)
The HIV infection rate in many developing countries is growing fastest among teenage and young adult females. Education for girls may be critical to breaking that pattern, by increasing their understanding of risks, and their capacity to avoid them.(4)
When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.(5)
When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.(6)
1 Rwanda Ministry of Education, 2007.
2 George Psacharopolous and Harry Anthony Patrinos, “Returns to Investment in Education: A Further Update,” Policy Research Working Paper 2881, Wash. DC: World Bank 2002
3 Summers, L. 1994 “Investing in All the People: Educating Women in Developing Countries” EDI Seminar Paper, No 24, Washington DC: World Bank.
4 Millennium Project. Task Force 3 Interim Report on Gender Equality. February 1, 2004.
5 United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990.
6 Phil Borges, with foreword by Madeleine Albright, Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World. 2007.