Skip to main content

Developing Countries: Secondary Education

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 25 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the likely effects on the economies of his Department’s partner countries of their achievement of equal access for girls to secondary education. (301041)

The Department for International Development (DFID) produced an analysis of the role of skills in economic growth in 2008. This drew attention to the gender differences in the complex relationship between levels of education and skills and economic growth. More evidence at a country level is needed in this area, but this initial work suggested that the rates of return for higher levels of female education were particularly significant to economic growth. The World Bank found that every 1 per cent. increase in the level of women’s education generates an additional 3 per cent. in economic growth. Importantly, failure to achieve gender parity at post-primary levels could be a bottle neck in the growth of the economies of our partner countries.

DFID currently funds a five-year research programme co-ordinated by the University of Cambridge worth £2.5 million which is currently undertaking analysis of the different rates of return on various levels of education which includes looking at gender differences.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to meet the target of ensuring that girls have equal access to secondary education in all his Department’s partner countries by 2015. (301042)

The Department for International Development (DFID) is committed to achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs) for universal primary education and gender parity by 2015. DFID is spending at least £8.5 billion between 2006 and 2015 in support of education in developing countries. Through this long-term commitment we are supporting poor countries to invest in quality basic education, including lower secondary, to ensure that all girls and boys attain the fundamental skills they need to participate in social and economic life.

For example, DFID is currently helping the Government of India to prepare its plans for expanding enrolments at secondary education from 53 per cent. to 70 per cent. over the next three years. The majority of these gains in enrolment will be girls. A raft of interventions are proposed for achieving this, including girls’ scholarships and bursaries, free uniforms, textbooks and bicycles for girls as well as free hostels and residential schools for the poorest girls. Attention to equity, particularly in terms of eliminating gender disparities is now a key part of DFID policy dialogue on and support for the development of secondary education in India.