When we think of the battle for female education, we think of stiff-upper-lipped Victorians, like the quote above. Yet right now some 65 million girls of school age around the world are not receiving any formal education. 17 million of them will never attend school at all. 61% of the 120 million illiterate young adults in the world are women.
Yet the benefits of female education are enormous. Girls with eight years education are four times less likely to become child brides, and a child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five. For every secondary year of education, a girl can earn 20% more money as an adult, and educated mothers are more than twice as likely to send their own children to school.
In short, educating a girl can help to break a family's cycle of poverty.
In rural Pakistan half of all children aged between 6 and 16 cannot read even a single sentence. Only one in three women has ever attended school, and buildings and facilities are so poor many parents have little inclination to change that figure by sending their own daughters.
Oxfam has been working in the region to get more children into schools, by providing better buildings, training teachers, and working with the government and grassroots communities to encourage a positive focus on female education.
The school Shazia Bhatti attended was destroyed by flood water and she spent a year out of school. Now, with Oxfam's help having provided a new school building, she says there will be more space to study. "When I wake up in the morning I pray to God that we get more education. We will be able to learn more in our new school, this is good, I am happy and excited to see the building."
Teacher, Hameeda Bano Bhatti, explains what a huge difference the further training she has received, and the extra teaching support she has been given, has made to her school: "I used to face difficulties as there were so many children, now, with help I can manage. ... Before, I was alone and I couldn’t cover all topics. Now I have help and if I am sick the education doesn’t stop. Now I am able to manage a large number of students and give them a better education."
If you want to donate to the campaign, go to www.oxfam.org.uk/donate.
£8 can provide 32 schoolchildren with textbooks.
£12 is enough to buy soap for 100 families for 6 months - Handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of diseases including diarrhoea, by half.
£18 can teach 50 young women about their rights.
"We have a responsibility to motivate and mobilise children to come to school, it will give them respect and a good future."
- Hameeda Bano Bhatti.