[intro]On the eve of International Day of the Girl (11 October) a new report by The ONE Campaign reveals the toughest place for girls to get an education is South Sudan, followed by Central African Republic and Niger. ONE’s ‘Toughest Places for a Girl to Get an Education’ investigation shows nine of the top 10 countries where girls fail to get a life-changing, poverty-busting education are in Africa, and all are fragile states.[/intro]

The ONE Campaign is a policy and advocacy organisation of more than 8 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease. Its ground-breaking report highlights some of the many barriers girls continue to face in securing a good education. In South Sudan 73% of girls ages 6-11 are not in school and in Central African Republic there is just one teacher for every 80 students.

President and CEO of The ONE Campaign, Gayle Smith, said: “Over 130 million girls are still out of school — that’s over 130 million potential engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers and politicians whose leadership the world is missing out on. It’s a global crisis that perpetuates poverty.”

“Across countries in Africa today millions of girls didn’t get to go to school, or walked long distances in dangerous conditions to get there, or sat in a classroom without a teacher or textbooks. This is not just about getting more girls into school, it’s about the women they grow up to be: educated, empowered and employed.”

The Index was compiled using global data on 11 factors that reflect girls’ experience of education from school completion rates, female literacy and pupil-teacher ratio. Countries including Somalia and Syria failed to make the list because there was insufficient data about girls in some countries.

Smith continued, “One of the most striking things about this Index is that countries where we know there are serious challenges but they didn’t make the list because information about girls is not being collected. Educating girls starts with making sure girls count and are counted.”

In February 2018 world leaders will be asked to fund the Global Partnership for Education, an international fund that supports education in developing countries.

Smith concluded, “In 2018 leaders have a chance to turn the corner on the girls’ education crisis – it starts with fully funding the Global Partnership for Education. This is a global crisis and it needs an emergency response.”

ONE Africa interim Executive Director, Nachilala Nkombo said: “Education is one of the most important investments a country can make in its people and its future. Educating girls has a multiplier effect; it reduces poverty, boosts economic growth and increases income. These benefits are transferred from generation to generation and across communities, making girls’ education one of the best investments a country can make.”

Download the full report here.