The Threat of Girls’ Education

What’s the worst nightmare of fundamentalist extremists? For militant groups like Boko Haram or the Afghan Taliban, it isn’t missile-firing drones but educated girls. In his Mother’s Day column last week, “What’s So Scary About Smart Girls?” New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof eloquently explained the power of educating girls. For one thing, it brings down birth rates, diffusing the “youth bulge” which so often leads to high unemployment and civil strife. It also doubles a country’s formal labor force, thus boosting the economy and raising living standards. Developing countries that have made the decision to invest in girls’ education, such as Bangladesh and Oman, have reaped the benefits. And, according to Kristof, “when a country educates and unleashes women, those educated women often become multipliers for good,” paying it forward for future generations of girls in need of financial support to attend school.

Because the education of girls is so fundamental to global demography, it’s a topic we cover in a number of teaching activities. Check out these activities “Lessons for Life,” “A Girl’s Life” and “A Woman’s Place” or read about the benefits of girls’ education in Kerala, India in this case study.