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ES1000 Basic English Educating Girls Is a Real Lifesaver

By Victoria Brittain and Larry Elliot

Clare Short knows it. Every development economist knows it. The World Bank knows it: The education of girls is the surest way to reduce poverty. If there is to be a serious effort to improve the lot of the billions of people deprived of the basic ingredients of a decent life, schools in poor countries have to be full of girls as well as boys. The reason is simple. All the evidence shows that taking girls out of the fields and homes, and putting them behind desks, raises economic productivity, lowers infant and maternal mortality, reduces fertility rates, and improves environmental management. Countries that have pursued gender equality over the past three to four decades have grown faster and become more equal. Why, then, are 90 million primary school-age girls around the world not in school? For the same reason that when Charles Dickens was writing David Copperfield 150 years ago girls were absent from the British education system: Men in power mostly prefer it that way, or are not interested enough in changing the situation to commit energy and money to doing so. Or perhaps they do not quite believe the mountains of studies that have established beyond question the link between the eradication of poverty and those years in a school-room by ranks of girls. The countries with the poorest record for having women in positions of power or influence have the worst figures for girls' education. High-profile intervention by organizations such as the World Bank has begun successfully with several countries, and more of the same will probably be needed to bring change in conservative, male-run states. Even if there were no development payoff from gender equality in schools, the education of girls would still be a cause worth fighting for. Education is a human right, and the denial of it to girls, in the systematic way it is denied in some feudal societies, is a scar on the community in the twenty-first century. To be born a girl in a rural area in Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, Morocco, Togo, or Sudan half a dozen of the most shameful performersmeans being doomed to a life without school, education, or clean water, marriage and babies coming too early, too many births, children who die of preventable diseases, backbreaking work in the fields, subordination to husband and his family, and an early death. Sexual exploitation is also a danger for a female deprived of education.The uneducated woman transmits to her children the same doomed life. Every year, almost 12 million children under the age of five needlessly die of infectious


diseases associated with poverty. But each additional year spent by their mothers in primary school lowers the risk of premature child deaths by about 8 percent. In Pakistan, an extra year of school for 1,000 girls could prevent sixty infant deaths. There are places that show how different things can be. In the southern Indian state of Keralacommunist in politics, Christian in ideologywhere literacy is almost universal, the infant mortality rate is the lowest in the developing world. Schooling is the route to lowering infant mortality. Each extra year of school also reduces the birthrate and cuts maternal deaths. In Brazil, illiterate women have an average of 6.5 children, whereas those with secondary education have 2.5. With women and girls being the main farmers in Africa and southern Asia, their education offers a chance to develop more efficient farming practices, improve output, and raise awareness of the ecological needs of the land with tree planting and crop rotation. With malnutrition at the level it is in these regions, and environmental degradation posing a threat that exacerbates the global warming affecting us all, the world community cannot afford to ignore this avenue of change.


Note: Clare Short was a politician and the former International Development Secretary of Britain. She accused Tony Blair of misleading parliament in the build-up to the Iraq invasion.

Source: Mikulecky, B.S., & Jeffries, L. (2004). More reading power (2nd ed., p. 156). New York, NY: Longman.

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Reading Activities
Activity 1 (Skimming and Scanning) 1. Read the title of the article and think of what it might be about. 2. Read the passage quickly to have an overall understanding of it. Does the title reflect the content of the article? 3. Who are the authors of this article? Victoria Brittain and Larry Elliot 4. From where is this article extracted? More reading power authored by Mikulecky, B.S., & Jeffries, L. Activity 2 (Identifying logical parts and topics) Read the passage again. The passage has been divided into 5 logical parts. Identify each logical part and write a topic for each part. Part 1: Paragraphs _1__ to ___2____ Part 2: Paragraphs _3__ to ___4____ Part 3: Paragraphs _5__ to ___6____ Topic: Educating girls is the best way to reduce poverty Topic: Reasons so many girls arent educated Topic: The consequences of the lack of education for girls and women Part 4: Paragraphs _7__ to ___9____ Topic: Some examples of the positive effects of educating girls on infant mortality and the birth rate Part 5: Paragraph _10__ Topic: Educating girls could also help to improve farming and the environment Activity 3 (Summarizing) Write a sentence to summarize each part in Activity 2. Part 1: Evidence show that the best way to reduce poverty and improve living standards in a poor country is to educate girls. Part 2: Around the world, 90 million girls are not getting an education because the men who are in power dont want them to be educated or dont care. Part 3: When girls are denied an education, they are denied a basic human right, and they are condemned to a life of hard work and suffering.

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Part 4: A direct relationship exists between educating girls and certain important measures of health and population; that is, as more girls are educated, the rate of infant death and the birth rate go down, and there are fewer maternal deaths. Part 5: Educating girls in Africa and South Asia could help spread better farming practices and stop environmental degradation. Activity 4 (Reading Comprehension: 10 marks) Read the passage and answer the questions that follow. In the multiple-choice questions, write the answers in the brackets provided. All the questions are worth 1 mark each except for question 10 which is worth 2 marks.


What is the purpose of the first three sentences in paragraph 1? a. Each sentence increases in importance. b. The sentences start from an individual and move onto a global view. c. The sentences function as an attention grabber and lead to the writers thesis. d. The sentences serve to reiterate the importance of education. ( c )

2. What is implied by the sentence If there is to be a serious effort to improve the lot of the billions of people deprived of the basic ingredients of a decent life, schools in poor countries have to be full of girls as well as boys.? a. Educating girls in poor countries can save many lives. b. Educating girls in poor countries can help improve the lives of many people. c. To improve the quality of peoples lives, schools in poor countries must be filled with more girls than boys. d. Girls can improve the lives of billions of people. ( b ) 3. One of the following is not a result of putting girls behind desks. a. Gender inequality b. Increased productivity c. Fewer infant and maternal deaths d. Better management of the environment

( a )

4. Why have girls been left out of the education system in many parts of the world? I. The situation of girls not being educated is not important enough to warrant the attention of the politicians. II. There are insufficient studies to prove the importance of education for girls. III. The politicians have more crucial matters to deal with in their countries than the education of girls. IV. The politicians do not see the relationship between poverty eradication and the education of girls.
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a. b. c. d.

I and II I and III I, III and IV II and IV

( c )

5. What is probably the best way to improve the lot of women in conservative, male-run states? a. Give the countries more monetary aid. b. Increase the number of women in power. c. Force the government to raise the profiles of women. d. Get influential bodies to persuade the politicians to educate the female gender. ( d ) 6. The writers think that education of girls is a worthy cause because a. it always guarantees economic returns. b. education is a human right, even for girls. c. in feudal societies, girls are denied education. d. if girls are not educated, there is a scar on the community.

( b )

7. How could the diseases suffered by children (paragraph 7) be prevented? a. If women were educated, they could cure the children. b. The diseases could be prevented if the women were educated on how to identify and handle them. c. The children could be prevented from dying from the diseases if their mothers had studied about them. d. The diseases are preventable if more women are educated on how to provide nursing care. ( b ) 8. Why is schooling the route to lowering infant and maternal mortality? a. Education frees girls from ignorance on issues relating to childbirths and care for the baby and the mother. b. The girls are busy studying at schools and therefore will not have babies early in life. c. Educated mothers produce healthy and strong babies. d. Infant and maternal mortality can be lowered because educated mothers are stronger and able to speak up for themselves. ( a ) 9. It is also important to educate women and girls so that they I. adopt farming practices that bring about greater productivity. II. are aware of the importance of maintaining the fertility of the land they work on. III. do not reduce global warming. IV. know how to irrigate the land effectively. a. I and II b. I and III c. III and IV d. I, II and IV ( b )
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