School is an entry point for girls around the world to pursue their dreams. But around 131 million girls aren’t enrolled in school right now. There’s so much that they can achieve, but there are barriers keeping them from fulfilling their potential.
Plan International USA’s programming provides equal access to quality education to all girls, children and youth. We help girls and young women complete all cycles of their education, from primary and secondary education, to preparing them for higher education and beyond.
Girls and children know the changes they need to receive an effective education in a safe environment, and we partner with them to make that change happen. Our comprehensive, inclusive approach to Education programming strives to be girl-led, because we believe that girls are our most important and valued partners in driving program design and content. The best way to identify the challenges that girls and young women face and define the path forward is to ask the experts: the girls themselves.
Our girl-driven Education programming includes four main focus areas:
- Access (to quality, uninterrupted and equal education): Plan fosters innovative and inclusive learning so that marginalized girls and children learn in a safe and engaging environment. By identifying barriers, addressing the needs of all children, training teachers and creating gender-responsive learning environments, we improve access to quality education and encourage the learning process. We promote inclusive education that is age-appropriate, so that girls who may otherwise be excluded — girls experiencing extreme poverty, conflict or environmental disasters — can access equal opportunities to a quality education that advances their knowledge and brings them to the next level.
- Early childhood care and development (ECCD): Multiple barriers prevent girls from having a positive start in life and a chance of surviving and thriving. Inequalities and traditional practices can mean that young children fail to get the vital care and support they need. Our ECCD programs work to help vulnerable children grow up equally valued and cared for, with access to the inclusive education they need to fully develop. We ensure parents and communities support children’s learning by urging local governments to increase commitments toward ECCD and early grade learning, and partnering with schools to enhance learning environments and improve students’ achievements.
- School sanitation: Without sanitation facilities at school, many girls have to stay home when they menstruate. Plan works with schools to ensure students have access to private facilities, hand-washing stations, clean water and menstrual hygiene management — allowing girls and children to improve their overall health, attend school without interruption and graduate.
- Secondary school retention: Too many girls drop out of secondary school because of costs, unwanted pregnancy, early marriage and cultural stigmas around educating girls. Plan works with girls to break down the barriers that keep them from transitioning and completing secondary school and pursuing their dreams of having professional careers. We also help create strong support networks of teachers and parents who know the value of educating a girl.