If you work in education in North America, chances are you have a positive view of how motivated female students are whose families have come from other countries. You see eager school-age girls whose families have worked hard to come to North America to provide good educational opportunities for their children and you think, “These students have the familial support they need . . . all we need to do is provide the right classes and materials and they will move ahead.”

Yet viewing all student-age immigrant girls through the same lens can lead to inaccurate expectations about how much support some foreign-born girls typically need after arriving on our shores.

The Very Sad State of Girls’ Education in the World

The following statistics from One.org, an international organization that advocates for educational and individual rights around the world offer sobering perspective on the state of girls’ education worldwide . . .

  • More than 130 million girls worldwide do not attend school at all
  • In Niger, only 17% of girls age 15-24 can read or write
  • In Afghanistan, only 71 girls attend primary school for every 100 boys
  • In Mali, only 38% of girls have attended any primary school
  • In Guinea, women age 25 and older have attended school for an average of less than one year
  • In Burkina Faso, only 1% of girls have completed secondary school
  • In Liberia, 66% of girls do not attend school at all
  • In Ethiopia, two out of every five girls are married by age 18, and one in five is married before age 15
  • In the Central African Republic, there is only one teacher for every 80 students

Assessment, Evaluation and Support

As an educator, how can you make sure you are providing immigrant girls with the kind of evaluation and support they need to succeed in North American schools?

“Helping Immigrant Students to Succeed at School – and Beyond,” a 2015 report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) provides a wealth of good advice for assessing and supporting immigrant student groups.

To quote from the introduction:

“How school systems respond to migration has an enormous impact on the economic and social well-being of all members of the communities they serve, whether they have an immigrant background or not. Some systems need to integrate large numbers of school-age migrants and asylum seekers quickly; some need to accommodate students whose mother tongue is different from the language spoken in the host community or whose families are socioeconomically disadvantaged; some systems are confronted with all three challenges at once.”

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