Innovation in Girls’ Education: What Works?


Innovation in Girls’ Education: What Works?

By Andrea Bertone, Director, Gender Center, FHI 360

In the last several years, a greater emphasis has been placed on the importance of girls’ education globally. While most of the emphasis has been on getting girls into primary school, donors are increasingly funding efforts to improve access and quality of girls’ secondary school as well as completion and transition to the work force.

Donors are particularly interested in how to foster innovation in girls’ education. Below are some examples of how the international community has addressed the challenges of sending girls to school through innovative approaches.

  • Create, build, and sustain Public Private Partnerships in support of girls’ education
  • Harness mobile technology to improve teachers’ access to e-learning opportunities.
  • Support the training of female teachers by providing scholarships, and incentives to work in rural areas, especially at the secondary level.
  • Support and cultivate social entrepreneurs to establish low cost private schools and provide better quality education to underserved populations.
  • Cluster schools in order to improve quality.
  • Ensure Conditional Cash Transfers and Unconditional Cash Transfers take into consideration the age of the girl.
  • Create transportation cooperatives to improve girls’ access to secondary school.
  • Invest in girls who have dropped out by providing life skills mentoring, tutoring, and other economic incentives.
  • Construct girls’ dormitories and latrines.
  • Create Local Alliances in support of girls’ education – business leaders, religious leaders, NGOs reps, other local female leaders, school principals, teachers – to support girls’ education and encourage families to hold off marriage.
  • Encourage girls to play sports as an extracurricular activity – it inspires, empowers, and mitigates isolation.
  • Engage men as champions for girls’ education and gender equality.
  • Ensure a comprehensive approach to girls’ education – one intervention such as scholarship distribution or CCTs are not going to foster long term change in behavior and attitudes.
  • Engage mothers and fathers to “own” the education of their children, especially of their daughters.
  • Introduce young women to role models and to career opportunities beyond informal sector jobs.

It is crucial that we continue to shine a light on the importance of girls’ secondary education. The empirical evidence shows the overwhelming positive economic and social benefits for girls and their families if she completes a quality secondary school.

For more information on the work of FHI 360 in girls’ education, visit