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UK school fund targets poorest girls in Asia, Africa

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 19 Sep 2011 17:03 GMT
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LONDON (TrustLaw) - Britain will use 355 million pounds of its existing aid budget to potentially help up to 1 million girls in some of Asia’s and Africa's poorest countries go to school by 2015.

It identified Bangladesh, South Sudan and Nigeria, among other countries, as priorities for the Girls Education Challenge.

The projects will provide 650,000 girls with six years of primary school education or up to 1 million girls with secondary education for three years.

The initiative will call on charities, non-governmental organisations and the private sector to come up with ideas to get girls into school, the UK Department for International Development (DfID) said.

Not only do the successful programmes have to show how they will get more marginalised girls into school, but they will also have to demonstrate cost-effectiveness, DfID said.  

"Women and girls continue to bear the brunt of poverty. Investing in them early on and giving them an education not only radically alters their lives but has a massive knock on effect benefitting their families and communities," Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said in a statement.

"Girls who have been to school are likely to do significantly better financially, socially and be far healthier," he added.

Girls who complete secondary school are six times less likely to become child brides than contemporaries with less or no education, according to the U.S.-based International Center for Research on Women.

They are also likely to have fewer and healthier children.

On average, a woman's fertility rate drops by one birth for every four years of additional schooling, according to the World Bank. Educated girls are also more likely to get immunisation for themselves and their babies.

Studies published by the American Economic Review also showed that providing girls with an extra year of education increased future wages by 10 to 20 percent.

(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)

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