CAUSES OF ILLITERACY
There are 750 million illiterate adults globally and of these two-thirds are women and girls. There is a gender divide in equitable education for girls. Ensuring inclusive literacy and promoting learning opportunities for girls is often neglected and under-resourced in national education programs. It is imperative to give underprivileged girls the chance to learn, in order to empower their economic independence and self-reliance, and break the intergenerational cycle of patriarchy, poverty, oppression, and second class citizenry. These are some reasons that perpetuate illiteracy among girls.
Poverty is one of the most important determining factors in a girls ability to receive an education. Poor families place priority on meeting basic survival needs of food, drinking water, shelter, and health, and they compromise on providing education. Education can be expensive for many families and it not only includes school tuition but also uniforms, books, stationary, exam fees, and transportation to schools which can be cost prohibitive.
ACCESS TO SCHOOLS
Access to schools can be a struggle for families who live in remote areas or rural villages where they may be no school for miles. With limited transportation facilities, children are left with no choice but to walk for hours just to reach school. Lack of access to education facilities in rural areas has contribute to the high number of illiterate people in these places. Girls in conflict and war ridden areas also have more problems going to school and refugee girls are half as likely to attend school than boys.
Gender-based violence can include sexual harassment and bullying. Many girls experience these problems while traveling to school and sometimes on school property. With gender norms in many societies, parents sometimes opt to keep their girls at home to protect them from dangers which she may encounter on her way to school and they are less likely to let their daughters travel to school if they have to travel long unsafe distances.
Cultural expectations can hinder education for girls. Parents provide it for boys instead leading to a gender gap in literacy. It is often expected that girls should stay at home and contribute to household duties like fetching water, cooking, looking after younger siblings and contributing to other household chores, rather than going to school. She eventually loses the decision-making ability and economic power that would come with an education.
In many countries, girls marry very young and when they are thrust into early marriage, they lose their ability to go to school. Often early pregnancies result and a young girl cannot manage the collective demands of looking after the household and young children and also completing her studies. Her education becomes the easy and only choice to sacrifice and the illiteracy cycle perpetuates in communities.
Many illiterate parents do not an emphasis on the importance of education. This is especially true in remote areas where many people have not gone through formal education and eke out their living through farming or labor work. They feel schooling is unnecessary as their children will follow their own path. In reverse, parents having strong educational backgrounds realize the necessity of taking their children to school and ensure they receive a good education.