Despite progress made in the last 20 years, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation has declared that more girls than boys are denied the right to education.
No fewer than 16 million girls aged between six and 11, UNESCO says, do not have the chance to read and write in primary school.
This is compared to about eight million boys.
The UNESCO Institute for Statistics made this known in a recent report ahead of the International Women’s Day.
Out of the 16 million, it added that in sub-Saharan Africa, 9.5 million girls would never set foot in a classroom compared to five million boys.
The UIS quoting UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said, “We will never achieve any of the Sustainable Development Goals without overcoming the discrimination and poverty that stunt the lives of girls and women from one generation to the next.
“We must work at all levels, from grassroots to global leaders, to put equity and inclusion at the heart of every policy so that all girls, whatever their circumstances, go to school, stay in school and become empowered citizens.”
The report also noted that gender disparities remained highest in the Arab States, sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia.
It added, “Across sub-Saharan Africa, 9.5 million girls will never set foot in a classroom compared to five million boys. In total, more than 30 million children aged of six to 11 are out of school across the region. Some will start at a later age, but many more will remain entirely excluded with girls facing the biggest barriers.
“The gender gap is even wider in South and West Asia, where 80 per cent of out of schoolgirls will never enter formal education compared to 16 per cent of out-of-school boys. This affects about four million girls compared to less than one million boys.
“Girls form the majority of the millions of children excluded from school in the Arab States, although precise estimates are impossible to produce due to conflicts in the region.