Educating women and girls is one of the most powerful tools we have for improving economic prosperity and sustainability, especially in middle- and low-income countries, but theories vary on how to best implement universal education. A new study from The World Bank Economic Review offers some insights.
Surprisingly, the study found that gender neutral education programs, such as providing ‘no strings attached’ payments to families, are the most effective way to get more girls educated.
To come to this conclusion, the researchers analyzed 267 studies of education programs from 54 low- and middle-income countries. They assessed enrollment rates, attendance, drop-out, graduation and completion rates, and test scores.
Although there is still merit in female-specific education initiatives, such as menstrual resources and all-female schools, the study notes that many of these programs can improve their results by also incorporating gender neutral components to their initiatives.
Researcher David Evans who worked on the study told NPR, “A lot of the most effective programs are ones that either eliminate school fees, provide scholarships or provide families a cash transfer to cover the other costs of having their daughter in school.”
One example of this theory in operation is Teaching at the Right Level, a reading program based in India. The program groups students not by age or gender, but by reading level, so that they can best provide targeted intervention, especially for those at the lowest achievement levels.
Source study: Oxford Academic – What We Learn about Girls’ Education from Interventions That Do Not Focus on Girls