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90 Million Girls Worldwide Missing Primary School Education Because of HIV/AIDS, Pregnancy, Other Factors, UNICEF Report Says

November 28, 2005

About 90 million girls worldwide are not receiving primary school education, compared with 25 million boys, because of factors including HIV/AIDS, early marriage and teen pregnancy, according to a UNICEF report released Friday, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (Klapper, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/25). Poverty, war, natural catastrophes and traditional gender roles are other factors that keep girls out of school, according to the report, titled "Gender Achievements and Prospects in Education" (BBC News, 11/25). As a result, almost 50 countries will fall short of reaching a U.N. Millennium Development Goal target of achieving gender parity in primary education by the end of this year. Lack of education puts girls at greater risk of contracting HIV and other diseases, as well as becoming victims of violence, abuse, poverty and exploitation, the report says (Reuters AlertNet, 11/25). UNICEF Head of Education Cream Wright said that sub-Saharan Africa "is the worst affected region in the world in terms of getting children into school overall," but the situation in South Asia is "slightly" worse when comparing the percentage of girls who attend school (De Capua, VOA News, 11/25). To achieve the MDG target of universal primary education, the report recommends eradicating school fees; providing scholarships and other financial incentives for disadvantaged children; putting a cap on school uniform costs and other fees; offering immediate funding and technical support to countries with low enrollment; and using the school system to deliver services such as nutrition, immunization and hygiene education to children (UNICEF release [1], 11/25). The report urges that solutions be backed by political will from the international community, Wright said. The report was presented on Saturday at the global advisory committee for the U.N. Girls' Education Initiative in Beijing (UNICEF release [2], 11/25).

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