Bridge International Academies, a tech based education provider with proven track records in delivering life changing education to over 600 primary schools in Nigeria, and across Africa and Asia has launched a new campaign called #GirlSuperPower in response to the latest UN data which reveals an increase of over 6% in the number of girls not in primary school, in just one year.
Bridge is a social enterprise that partners with families, governments and donors to provide life-changing, affordable education to low-income families in underserved communities. It has opened 63 academies, serving about 12,000 pupils in low-income communities in Lagos and Osun States.
Around 131 million girls worldwide are still out of school, and for them equality remains elusive. The UN reports show that the number of out of school girls at primary level grew from 32 million in 2015 to 34 million in 2016. Girls usually have to overcome multiple hurdles to access the same learning opportunities as boys. Around 16 million girls between ages 6-11 never enter a school as a student.
In response to the alarming revelation, Bridge stated that the #GirlSuperPower calls on Nigerian policy makers and other stakeholders in education to prioritise the need for gender equality in education.
The 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. It highlights how young girls in underprivileged communities are pursuing their dreams of becoming doctors, engineers and mathematicians, against the odds.
According to Bridge’s Nigeria Country Managing Director, Olu Babalola said, “Girls in low and middle income countries almost need superpowers to gain a decent education. It is deeply disappointing if the number of girls being failed is on the rise despite 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.”
She added that the good news is that many girls are aspiring to a better future thanks to transformative schools in needy parts of the world. We are working to make that the norm rather than the exception.”
Nine in ten children in Africa are not learning the most basic reading and maths, and if you’re a girl the situation is especially bad. Around the world today:
● only 34% of girls in the poorest households living in the poorest countries complete primary school.
● young women are nearly 90% more likely to be out of secondary school than their counterparts
● 68 million girls of upper secondary school age are out of school
● 32 million girls of primary school age are out of school
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.
Babalola continued, “We believe that a major element in the solution to give more girls a quality education and achieve SDG4 is enabling a wider range of partners to support the improvement of schools and education systems.”
The stars of the new campaign highlight how 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. Ten-year-old Ameerah Aliu attends a Bridge school in Igando, a community in Alimosho area in Lagos State. Ameerah loves maths and believes it will help her thrive in her future career. According to her, solving mathematical problems sharpen her thought process and practical thinking, which she applies to her daily life. She wants to become a pharmacist so she can administer drugs and help sick people get better.
It has been widely reported that out of the 10.5 million out-of-school Nigerian children, 60 percent are girls. Equal access to education is an unfulfilled promise, especially for girls from the poorest households. Many of those who do enroll drop out early due to various reasons.
Ahead of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, creating more opportunities to learn is a challenge that the UN and global leaders are united in tackling. Billions of dollars are being channelled 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.
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