As United Nations (UN) reveal an increase in the number of girls not in school worldwide, Bridge-Liberia is expected to officially launch a new campaign dubbed GirlSuperPower, calling on Liberian policymakers to prioritize the need for gender equality in education.
The launch of the campaign, which will bring together Liberian women stakeholders, with a panel discussion on 20th September 2018 on the topic, ‘‘Using Education as a Tool for Girls’ Empowerment,’ several Bridge students, predominantly girls, will also be in attendance at Kendeja Public School in Paynesville.
According to Bridge Public Affairs office, the launching of the GirlSuperPower campaign is based on reports that ahead of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, UN data revealed an increase of over 6% in the number of girls not in primary school, in just one year. This is a key metric for UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: achieving quality education for all, which now appears to be moving in the wrong direction. Equal education for girls is an unfulfilled promise for the majority of the poorest families in Liberia.
Around half a million girls in Liberia, according to the World Bank Group, are still out of school, and for them equality remains elusive. According to the latest UN report, the number of out of school girls at primary level sits at 60% and girls usually have to overcome multiple hurdles to access the same learning opportunities as boys.
Around 16 million girls worldwide sits between ages 6-11 and never enter a school as a student.
This new campaign focuses on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills for girls. STEM skills are traditionally gendered as “male” subjects in many low and middle income countries.
The new campaign highlights how young girls in underprivileged communities and against all odds, are pursuing their dreams of becoming doctors, engineers and mathematicians.
The stars of the new campaign highlight that with a good school, a great teacher and a chance to learn, girls can defy expectations, challenge stereotypes and escape poverty.
There are real trailblazers who show how STEM education can be truly transformational for young girls, and Liberia is no different to the rest of the world.
In an interview with a 10-year-old Lucia of the LEAP school run by Bridge, she explained that in the future she wants to become a President of Liberia. “I love to read the English books, loving books is good because I want to be educated. I want to be President; I will make people happy when I am President,” she said.
Marcus Wleh, Bridge-Liberia Country Director, said: “Girls in low and middle income countries like Liberia almost need superpowers to gain a decent education. It is deeply disappointing if the number of girls failing in school is on the rise, in spite of ongoing international efforts.
“We know that when given a chance in the classroom, girls excel. But they often have to defy the odds and overcome near impossible hurdles to reach the classroom. The good news is that many girls are aspiring to a better future, thanks to transformative Bridge-Liberia schools all across Liberia. We are working to make that the norm rather than the exception.
“Nine in ten children in Liberia are not learning the most basic reading and maths, and if you are a girl the situation is especially bad around the country.”
According to him, statistic proves that 63% of girls in the poorest households living in the poorest countries complete primary school, young women are nearly 85% more likely to be out of secondary school than their counterparts in Liberia. Almost half a million girls of upper secondary school-age are out of school, according to World Bank, while 226,772 girls of primary school-age in Liberia are school dropouts, according to UNICEF.
He said that a key reason most children in the world are not learning is that there is a chronic shortage of opportunities to learn, especially for girls. This can be because there simply is no local school, or if there is a school, it’s not a place of real learning.
Marcus Wleh continued, “We believe that a major element in the solution to improving girls’ education in Liberia and achieving SDG4 is to enable a wider range of partners to support the improvement of schools.
“That is why we are so proud to be part of the Liberian Education Advancement Programme (LEAP), working closely with the Liberian Government on improving education,” Mr. Wleh said.
Creating more opportunities to learn is a challenge that the UN and global leaders are united in tackling. Billions of dollars are being channeled towards this cause. Solving this issue will unlock talents, raise standards of living, boost economies, and even improve health and security. As Gordon Brown rightly said, this is the civil rights struggle of our time. In Liberia, the GirlSuperPower Campaign is expected to see an array of high achieving women drawn from civil society, government, NGOs and other sectors at a launch event.