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New report reveals the toughest places in the world for a girl to get an education

Over 130 million girls still out of school in what ONE Campaign describes as a ‘global crisis that perpetuates poverty’

On the eve of International Day of the Girl 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.

The ground-breaking report also 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 Deputy Director, Nachilala Nkombo said: “it is worrying that 53 million of the 130 girls out of school are african girls. Without investment for girls left out of school, Africa risks missing out on achieving its Demographic Dividend in full. We urge African governments to increase their investment in education to reach 20% of their national budgets to education by 2030 but also have targeted education investments that expand skills and opportunities for its young people particularly young women in poor households.”



  1. ONE has spokespeople available on International Day of the Girl. To arrange an interview please contact  Yannick Tshimanga via email [email protected] or +27 63 698 1093
  2. ONE is calling on world leaders to fully finance the Global Partnership for Education as part of the solution for the global education crisis, so it can help millions of girls in the poorest countries get the education they deserve. For more information, visit: one.org/sexist
  3. #GirlsCount is ONE’s global campaign to raise awareness of the over 130 million girls around the world being denied an education.  Supporters are asked to record a video to count every single girl out loud. Each count will join others as ONE tries to make the world’s longest video. If the count gets all the way to 130 million, it will take more than eight years to watch.

About ONE

The ONE Campaign is a policy and advocacy organization of more than 8 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, it raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and other preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs.