Educating girls and women: investing in development.
This brochure summarizes selected chapters from a forthcoming publication of a World Bank study on women's education in developing countries. The poorest benefit, and for girls and women, the benefits are many. Failure to raise the education levels of women has hugh consequences for increasing productivity and income and improving quality of life. Development has been affected both by the level of schooling of women and the gender gap. New approaches are being explored; policymakers must find and appropriate combination of actions to change families' opinions of and the economics of female education. Adult literacy is low in many developing countries; of the 14 out of 40 countries with data, only 1 in 5 adult females can read. Gross enrollment has increased from 45% in 1965 to 70% in 1985; only 41% of total primary school enrollment was girls in 1985. There are great regional differences. The gender gap is dramatic in South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa, e.g., in Bhutan girls school enrollment was 19% compared with 34% for boys in 1985, and in Pakistan 38% of girls vs 73% of boys. Differences were not as marked in Latin America and all East Asian countries. Dropout rates for girls are also higher than boys. Middle-income countries have experienced the greatest progress. The benefits of educating women are discussed in terms of the link with social and economic development. Families investment in girls education is low because the private returns are not large enough to balance the costs. Sons receive preference in many countries. Approaches to attracting more girls to schools are discussed: building schools is not enough; demand for girls education must occur. New ways of engaging rural students are being tried. Culturally appropriate facilities also boost enrollment. The best method is training and placing teachers close to home. Financial incentives and lower opportunity costs attract more girls to school. National media campaigns to raise awareness are effective. Limited resources and rapid population growth demand a realignment of priorities.