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Summary

Improving access and quality of primary education has been one of the main focuses of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.1 While the provision of primary education saw rapid improvement in the early 2000’s, progress has slowed down in recent years.2 One major issue that universally hinders further sustainable development in education is the high dropout rate at the primary school level.3 Since massive improvements have been made in the provision and affordability of primary education, the pressing need for advancements in the secondary education sector has gone up.4 The largest obstacles that the global community has to overcome are increasing the access and applicability of education, and developing the quality of teachers and curriculums.5 The World Bank has partnered with local and national governments to provide secondary education to students all around the world, regardless of poverty levels, gender, religious affiliation, and ethnicity.6 Gender parity is a serious concern in most countries around the world.7 Young girls are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to gaining access to educational opportunities, especially in severely poverty stricken countries where misogynistic cultural norms persist.8 Some of these cultural norms include families favoring boys’ education over girls when income is limited, deficient female sanitation facilities at school, and exploitative classroom environments.9 In 2011, nearly 31 million primary school aged girls and over 34 million secondary school aged girls did not enroll in school.10 Overall countries located in Sub-Saharan Africa have highest gender gap in education.11 If more young girls were able to stay in school instead becoming ensnared in child marriages, the cycle of poverty could begin to decline.12 When adolescent girls continue their education it decreases their vulnerability to complications from early childbearing, decreases their exposure to HIV/AIDS, and builds skill sets that will serve them well later in life.13 Studies have shown that if a young girl continues her secondary school education to completion it can translate to an increase of 25% in her wages later in life.14 1 http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview.html 2 http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/mdg_goals/mdg2/ 3 Ibid 4http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTEDUCATION/0,,contentMDK:20521328~menuPK:738179~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:282386~isCURL:Y,00.html 5-6 Ibid 7 http://www.unicef.org/education/bege_70640.html 8-14 Ibid

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