Educating girls is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality. Nonetheless, some 62 million girls who should be attending school, aren't.
There are many reasons why girls are kept out of school. Sometimes the girl's family or community believe that she is more useful if she takes care of daily chores, such as fetching wood or water, or caring for her younger siblings. Sometimes the family has little money for school supplies and sends only the boys to school. Sometimes the girl herself has heard too often that girls aren't smart enough or deserving enough to go to school, and takes this false message to heart. And in some cases, local norms forbid girls studying with male teachers, so if there are no female teachers, the girls are not allowed to attend school.
That is the case in many parts of Afghanistan. Typically, girls are only allowed to attend classes taught by women. And in Afghanistan, there is a distinct lack of female teachers.
That is why Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government-led initiative aiming to address the many challenges that prevent adolescent girls from attaining a quality education, is expanding its program in Afghanistan.
In July, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, formed a partnership with the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, or DFID, to support a program that helps develop more female teachers in Afghanistan. USAID committed $25 million to help establish a teacher apprenticeship program for girls in grades 9 through 12.
The idea is to begin preparing them to teach while they are still studying, and once they have graduated from school, move them directly into careers as teachers. In this way, they can help educate the next generation of Afghan girls.
Educating and empowering girls is one of the core components of our effort to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies with healthy, well-educated citizens. USAID and DFID are working together to help teenage girls in Afghanistan train as teachers, so they can go on to teach future generations of girls, and build a cycle of education that will raise all of Afghanistan.