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Keeping Population Growth in Check: How a High School Education Changes Everything

A high school education benefits African girls, their families, and their communities.

The benefits of educating a girl in Africa are many—learning to read, write, and do simple math in primary (elementary) school are the first steps to better health, future employment, and improved self esteem.  Many African countries have made progress in closing the gap between girls and boys in school.  In Kenya, almost half of the children enrolled in primary school were girls in 2010 according to UNESCO.  But keeping girls in school through high school creates a ripple effect–it increases the benefits not only for girls, but also for their families, and their communities.

A recent New York Times article by Elisabeth Rosenthal suggests that one of the greatest benefits of keeping girls in school through high school is that girls who complete high school have fewer children than those who do not.  Girls not in school usually face early marriage—at 13 or younger—and younger brides have more child-bearing years leading to larger families.  In Niger, for instance, where three-quarters of girls marry before the age of 18, women have an average of seven children. Niger has one of the highest birthrates in the world.  

The implications of not keeping girls in high school are staggering. In more than half of the countries in Sub Saharan Africa, more than 40 percent of the population is under the age of 15, according to the Population Reference Bureau.  Girls who finish high school have more choices—economically, through work opportunities, and personally, because they are better able to make their own marriage decisions.  These girls tend to marry later and have smaller, healthier families. A girl who stays in school is three times less likely to contract HIV/AIDS.

Educating girls through high school is one of the goals of the Aid for Africa Girls Education Fund. The Fund is also focused on college and supporting students until they find employment. Aid for Africa’s multifaceted approach pools resources and funding to those member organizations that work best to get and keep girls in the classroom, empowering them to make educated decision about their futures.

This Mother’s Day, remember your mother by making a donation in her honor to the Aid for Africa Girls Education Fund.  You will help girls go to school and succeed in life. Mom will receive an email notification about the donation you made in her name.