Fatou is a 27-year-old housewife. At 15 years old, she decided to quit her education to get married to the love of her life, a man 8 years older than her, who had promised her a wealthy life in which she wouldn’t worry about a thing.
A few years into her marriage, her husband wasn’t doing well financially, and she found herself financially abused by him. All the promises went into vain and she was there begging for a penny to get the most basic goods she needed. Looking at herself, she found herself with no knowledge or skills to help her stand on her feet. With no education to support her, she felt like all the doors were shut, and her only salvation was her husband, who in turn belittled her for always being dependent on him, noting that it had been himself who stopped her from being an achiever.
This is not only the story of Fatou, but also that of millions of women living in disparity because they couldn’t be self-sufficient and independent. This story is yet another example of what the SDGs tackle, like Reduced Inequalities, among others as Quality Education and Gender Equality.
The contribution of women in the society decreases early marriage, and early marriage is linked to low education.
The graph shows the countries with the highest number of women who were first married by age of 15.
The top 3 countries with the highest number of women who were early married are Niger with 37.37% , Bangladesh with 32% and Chad with 29.25%.
Moreover, 76% of girls in Niger are married before their 18th birthday and 28% are married before the age of 15. Niger has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world and the 13th highest absolute number of women married or in a union before the age of 18 globally – 745,000.
As a result, Awareness campaigns must be done to limit early marriage, and impose laws on marriage before 18.
In the time it has taken to read this article 39 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
Hussaini, 14, is one of the lucky ones. He escaped. In 2018, as terrorism by extremist groups crossed into Burkina Faso, his village was attacked while he was in school. First, he heard screaming, and then gunfire. “They shot at our teachers and killed one of them,” he says. “They burned down the classrooms.” Hussaini ran home and within a matter of minutes, his family set off. They left everything behind, including school. Since that day, Hussaini has not set foot in a classroom. “I used to love school, to read, to count and to play during recess,” he says. “It’s been a year since I last went…”
From the end of 2017 to 2019, the number of schools forced to close due to rising insecurity tripled. More than 9,200 schools closed across Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and others, leaving 1.9 million children without education. These children face a much higher risk of recruitment by armed groups, gender-based violence and targeting by traffickers. Most parents in Africa will tell you that their children’s education is the most important investment they can make.
Education is the UN’s top priority because it is a basic human right and the foundation on which to build peace and drive sustainable development. Unfortunately, lack of education for the young generation remains highly present in the world.
The problem is a cycle: lack of education results in high child labor and low literacy rate thus increasing the world’s problems such as crimes. And in its turn, terrorism decreases education opportunities. Hussaini is among millions of other children that were deprived from quality education and had high chances to be part of child labor.
Poor basic education can be identified by high child employment rate. So, what are the target continent and countries?
The map shows that the Average Child Employment Rates (ages 7-14) is highest in Africa.
Having a deeper look, Cameroon ranks first for having the highest average child employment rate of 52.7% for years 2006-2015, followed by Niger, Benin, and Burkina Faso.
Referring to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number 4:
What if kids will get exposed to education in early stage?
Can we influence their perception?
Fulfilling the Dream
Education cannot wait, and our world had enough. It is time to increase the number of education programs targeting young generation, and specifically African countries as previously mentioned, with Cameroon being a major target.
Creating education programs would:
Have education camps with volunteering and non volunteering teachers all around the world
Use workshops and fun trainings to later voluntarily engage kids
Involve underdeveloped countries in globalization
Introduce the diversity of cultures
Work on making education a need and will for every kid and parent- representing a lasting impact environment
Many past programs were successfully implemented in Cameroon such as Open Dreams, which already funded more than 200 scholarships and mentored more than 1000 students.
Is it Time?
Targeting Cameroon, and implementing it as a first stage project, would be a start to then expand into other countries.
Finally, from another perspective, how about looking at equalizing educational opportunities as a solution to many other issues? and working on SDG 4 for quality education will strongly and positively affect other goals such as ending poverty and hunger?
The demographic composition of the Arab world has been changing as birth rates have decreased drastically. The birth rate per 1,000 people in the Arab world has gone from around 42% in 1979 to around 24% in 2020, which is close to half.
The potential reason behind the birth rate decrease is the increase in literacy rates among adult females aged 15 and above. Continuing education, or even gaining basic reading and writing skills, is leading Arab females to slightly shift their focus away from childbirth and more towards personal care and self fulfillment. This can be seen as literacy rates in adult females aged 15 and above in the Arab world has more than doubled from around 30% in 1979 to around 66%. This has happened in the same period where the birth rate went down by almost half.
On average, females that are literate are more aware of contraceptive devices, which allow them to make a conscious decision on when they prefer to get pregnant. These females also know about the difficulties of raising a large family, the amount of investment and commitment needed, and the benefits of having a family that is within their financial and emotional providing abilities. Females are currently also more integrated in the workforce and they’re climbing up the hierarchy which is leaving them with less time for pregnancy and childcare.
Quality Education, as a Sustainable Development Goal is crucial, as it is the glue that sticks all the Development Goals together. Education helps decrease poverty and gender inequality. In this case, education and literacy are helping women take control of their lives. They’re now deciding if and when they prefer to get pregnant.
“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” —Malcolm X
Asia, my helper at home is from Ethiopia and dropped out of school at lower secondary school age because of poverty,and she once told me “If it was up to me, I would choose to get educated. However, this is my life.”236 million children and youth in the world are Asia where 57 million are in the Central and West Africa region. These adolescent need all the help they can get in order to get out of the conditions they are living. They have the right like every child to have access to education.
Adolescents who can afford it are sent to private schools in several African countries. But many people in rural areas and poorer households do not have that option.
The above map shows the average of Adolescents out of school on all over the world from 2000 till 2021 where the African region has the highest average from all the others.
The increase in dropout rates is due to several reasons. According to UNICEF, adolescents dropout rates are influenced by child marriage, conflicts and disasters, and gender discrimination. Also, Poverty plays a major role in increasing the rates of adolescents out of school where they are forced into employment at a very young age to accommodate the living demands.
There is a positive correlation between Average % of poverty headcount ratio at national poverty line & average % of Adolescents out of school throughout the years for all countries. The highest average percentage of poverty is in the African region such as South Sudan having 82.3% which leads to have high average percentage of adolescents out of school (51.18%)
Also, there is a positive correlation between Average % of child marriage at the age of 15 & average % of Adolescents out of school throughout the years for all countries. The highest average percentage of early marriage is in the African region such as Niger having 37.38% which leads to have high average percentage of adolescents out of school (83.03 %).
All countries, especially those with low levels of education, should restrict early marriage.
Due to the several factors mentioned, Adolescents are forced in employment where Niger for example has the highest Average of Adolescents in employment (50.23% ) compared to other African countries as shown in the above graph.
Actions to be taken:
• Raise awareness on the importance of education
• Provide financial support for poor families
• Provide flexible, affordable, high-quality school options
• Improve the access to education
• Ensure that all adolescents complete free, equitable secondary education.
All the above factors are important in guaranteeing a better future for children. However, it is recommended that they be accompanied by the right laws that prevent child employment and provide equal opportunities for females to participate in the workplace.