Global Girls' Education: Breaking Down Barriers

Global Girls' Education: Breaking Down Barriers

It used to be that, in many parts of the world, educating a girl was not only a low priority but was prevented by social customs or economic pressures. Now, in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, India and war-torn areas such as Syria, girls are beginning to get a secondary school, and sometimes even, a college education.

On this edition of America Abroad, we will celebrate the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani woman who is an activist for female education and hear the reactions to that award from girls and women in oppressed places including Pakistan.

We have a report of a girl in rural India who suffered brutal beatings by her father but clung to her desire to get an education. We'll hear first-person reports of girls in Kenya who resisted their families' efforts to sell them off as a child bride so that they could get an education. And we'll examine the value of madrassas in educating girls in places like sub-Saharan Africa. 

To read full articles from this program click here.

This program was supported by The Aga Khan Foundation.

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Madrasas in Africa: Educating or Indoctrinating?

One place that girls in Africa are finding an education is at Islamic religious schools known as madrassas. Typically these schools teach only boys, but in sub-Saharan Africa, more madrassas are being opened for girls and are usually funded by wealthy Arab donors. It’s a way to compensate for, what some say, is the extremely poor quality of state-funded schools. But still, others share the on-going worry that these madrassas for girls can be a source of terrorism. Halima Athumani reports.

The Challenge of Educating Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Turkey has opened its doors to about a million-and-a-half Syrian refugees since spring 2011. As the war drags on, Turkey is finding itself with a long-term humanitarian and education problem.
Although Syria and Turkey have a solid tradition of secular, universal education for both boys and girls, these traditions are being undermined by the challenges of keeping the refugees housed and fed. Jacob Resneck is there and has this report.

A New Era for Girls Education in India

The number of girls attending schools in India has gone up in recent decades…especially in primary schools.

This is true even in rural areas.

That’s not to say it’s easy for girls to go to school there, or for them to stay in school as they get older, especially if they’re poor. But things are changing slowly. And more girls are fighting for right to an education. Reporter Rhitu Chatterjee has one such story.

Why Some Afghans are Raising Their Girls as Boys

It’s a practice known as “bacha posh” and it’s been documented in the new book, The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan. It’s written by journalist Jenny Nordberg who spent years cultivating relationships in Afghanistan to learn more about the practice and to meet the families who live it.
Nordberg chats with host Madeleine Brand about the practice and how many view it as a form of rebellion.

How American Fifth Graders React To Learning About Child Marriage

The concept of child marriage is a completely foreign idea in the United States. Yet in many parts of the world, including South Asia and Africa, it’s as common as the idea of marriage itself. In countries such as, Niger, Chad and the Central African Republic, for example, more than two-thirds of girls were married off before their 18th birthday in 2007. That’s according to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). To learn more about what Americans think about this we traveled to Driscoll Elementary School in Brookline, Massachusetts to hear from a group of 5th grade girls.

Supported By: 
Aga Khan Foundation
Henry Luce Foundation