• Sunil Sharma

Girls Education in the Commonwealth

We are seeing more children in school throughout the world but 262 million are not. 617 million which is more than half the school-age population worldwide, have not reached the minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics.


Many of our Commonwealth countries have made some steady progress towards gender improvements in education as we have seen girls out-perform boys in a number of countries. It is clear that there must be more opportunities in education for both girls and boys. Nonetheless, girls are at a significant disadvantage in a number of countries and there is a strong case for them to receive support.

That is why, news of our Parliamentary Chair, Helen Grant MP the UK’s Special Envoy on Girls’ Education was much welcomed news. As Special Envoy, she will champion the UK’s global expertise on education and secure backing for ambitious initiatives to get 40 million more girls in primary and secondary school in developing countries by 2025 and improve learning levels, so girls can achieve their full potential.

Morally we understand that girls getting further education is the right thing to do but also pragmatically it is a fantastic investment. It can help build more prosperous societies as well as allow girls to get married later, earn more money and have healthier families.

Unfortunately the recommended 12 years of education is far from a reality for girls. Serious action is needed and we must continue to ensure that this remains high on political agendas.

Below are some key stats from a report conducted by Cambridge University.

- Gender parity in primary enrolment being achieved in 31 out of 44 Commonwealth countries with data.

- Gender parity has sometimes been achieved even though primary schooling is still not universal: in 12 of the 31 countries that have achieved gender parity more than 10 out of every 100 primary-aged girls are not in primary school.

- Moreover, in 2017, 137 million primary-and-secondary school aged children were out of school in these countries, of which approximately half were girls. These children represented just over half of the global out-of-school population, despite comprising just over one-third of the world’s school-aged population.

- In 15 out of 21 Commonwealth countries with available data, poor rural girls spend no more than five years in school, and so have little chance of making the transition to secondary school

- The chances of girls attending pre-primary school are strongly contingent on where she is born. In eight of 14 Commonwealth countries with data, no more than 40 percent of poor rural girls have access to pre-primary education. In three out of these eight countries, fewer than 10 percent are enrolled.

Register here for our launch event with Canadian Prime Minister, Kim Campbell & Helen Grant - https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_gl1P4Po2SNOqOrC5wg2P3w

Data retrieved from - https://www.ungei.org/sites/default/files/12-Years-Quality-Education-All-Girls-Commonwealth-Perspective-Report-Summary-2019-eng.pdf

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