Hannah Long, Student at Stanford University
Girls often have more limited access to education than boys--especially in underprivileged/under-resourced areas. At the same time, women are often the backbone of societies, and are responsible for passing down knowledge and culture. How can we tailor education strategies to empower young girls?
In parts of the world, education for many girls ends soon after primary school—sometimes even earlier. They may have to work to help support their families, or they’re married early and expected to start families of their own at a very young age. In countries where girls’ education is less valued, parents—and often girls themselves—cannot imagine a future that holds possibilities beyond what they see in their communities. In places like Lebanon, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, the staff, teachers, and alumni of Teach For All network partners are working to address these barriers to girls’ education.

In the classroom, our partners’ teachers put a great deal of effort into developing strong bonds with students and their families, and through these trusting relationships are able to encourage them to keep their daughters in school so they’ll have as many options as possible in adulthood. In India, for example, where two thirds of illiterate 15 to 24-year-olds are girls, Teach For India fellow Pooja Chopra is determined to see a different outcome for her students. Pooja taught 30 fourth-grade girls in one of the city’s poorest communities, but rather than temper her expectations, their reality only fueled her commitment to helping her students realize their dreams through education. She set out to foster their personal leadership and to ensure they would always be able to learn, regardless of their circumstances. In the process, she developed relationships with the girls' parents and helped their mothers launch a small business that would enable them to help support their daughters’ educations. You can learn more about Pooja’s vision to set her students on new life paths in the article I wrote for the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com/wendy-...079042).

Efforts like Pooja’s are happening in classrooms and communities across the Teach For All network. I wrote a piece for our website (teachforall.org/en/news/c...-girls) not long ago about two teachers in nearby Pakistan who taught high school English to girls in a patriarchal community where it is not uncommon for a woman to go years without ever leaving her home. Inspired to show the girls and their families what could be possible for them, they introduced them to female leaders in a wide range of careers and taught them to use technology and think critically. The teachers also met with the girls’ parents to discuss their aspirations for their daughters’ futures and to emphasize the opportunities that would be available to them if they were able to pursue a higher education.

Finally, another important strategy is ensuring we have more female role models in communities. Earlier this year, Teach For Nepal began recruiting teachers for a new region they were about to begin working in—a part of the country where girls often leave school at young age to work or marry. With the aim of bringing diverse female role models into these students’ lives, Teach For Nepal launched a recruitment campaign (facebook.com/TeachForNepa...heater)encouraging female graduates and professionals to become teachers in this region. Thanks in part to this campaign, women comprise 40% of Teach For Nepal’s current teaching cohort, as compared to the broader female teaching population of 13.8% in their placement schools.
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