Nelson Mandela famously said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” But without enough funding, proper planning, and accountability, education systems become weak and ineffective — and too often, it’s girls who pay the price.
Why? Educated children, especially girls, are more likely to earn more as adults, and to raise healthy, educated children. Yet there are still many barriers to keeping girls in school. Growing up in rural Kenya, Vivian Onano witnessed many of these barriers, like child marriage and poverty. Chosen to attend a boarding school for talented girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, she is now an activist working to give more girls across Africa the opportunities she had.
But not all girls are so lucky. In Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Sierra Leone, the education budget is very low — as low as 2%. These countries also have some of the worst educational results in Africa and, according to the Incheon Declaration, need to move towards spending 15% to 20% of their national budgets on education — approaching 10% as a minimum in the next two years. For example, Vivian’s country, Kenya, has seen the benefit of increasing its budget to 6% for education, matched by well-targeted investment, to get more girls into the classroom and secondary school. We want to see them continue this trend.
However, we know it’s not just more funds that make a difference — it has to be spent in the right way. But many governments often waste or do not report what their education funds are being spent on, meaning that allocated funding is wasted, misspent, or disappears through corruption. Accountability and transparency are critical to measure the outcomes and monitor progress of interventions and investment to ensure maximum “bang for buck”. Ultimately, it is girls like Vivian — future leaders — who will suffer if systems across Africa are not well-funded, transparent, and responsive to need.
Help girls like Vivian change the world: Tweet at finance and education ministers for Nigeria, Kenya, South Sudan, and Sierra Leone, asking them to increase domestic funding for education.