Over the years, a net increase in enrolment rates in primary schools has been observed worldwide. Nevertheless, in West Africa, girls still lag behind in terms of basic education. Although many other African societies face educational challenges in terms of realising girls’ right to education, educational challenges are far greater for women and girls in West Africa. This region is considered to have the highest illiteracy level in the world, and the level of illiteracy is even higher for females. As a result, a gap persists between the number of boys and girls in primary schools. The reasons why this gap persist is because cultural limitations and poverty still undermine the realisation of girls’ right to basic education in this part of the world. Girls’ right to primary education is undermined through patriarchy; negative cultural perceptions associated with girls’ education, child labour or child marriages, to mention but a few. Not only are educational disparities visible in terms of gender, but educational disparities are also visible between urban and rural areas. By taking into account such differences, and in order to best achieve universal basic education in West Africa, the use of multiple strategies is advised. It requires primarily the enforcement of legal measures in order to improve girls’ enrolment and retention rates. Simultaneously, it requires economic solutions which can help the poor to send girls to school, with in addition strategies which focus on the role that institutions can play; whether these institutions are governments, traditional or religious institutions. Evidently, with these strategies, the role played by other actors such as citizens and non-governmental organisations, in ensuring girls’ right to basic education cannot be underestimated.
Dissertation (MPhil)--University of Pretoria, 2013.