More girls than boys are now completing primary school on time in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a report by the UN’s education organization (Unesco).
Last year, 66% of girls completed primary education at the age they were meant to finish, compared to 44% in 2000.
For boys, figures had also improved but not as dramatically – 61% finished in 2020, compared to 49% in 2000.
However, Unesco noted that, unlike boys, girls were less likely to finish primary school if they had missed years when they were younger.
“There are more boys who are likely to finish primary school at an older age as they have no obligations compared to the girls whom once they have passed the normal age where one is expected to have graduated, which is around 13 years, start getting pressured into marriages or pregnancies,” said Manos Antoninis, director of the Global Education Monitoring Report 2022.
In Nigeria, one in five teenagers, mostly girls, are not in school because of marriage and pregnancy, the report shows.
When it comes to secondary education completion, girls have closed the gap with boys in junior years and have halved the gap with boys for more senior years.
Despite the progress, sub-Saharan Africa’s gender education gap is the biggest in the world – one in four young women are still illiterate in the region.
In order for more girls to complete their schooling, Unesco has called on non-governmental organizations to fill the gap in providing services.