Outside the western world, education is not “free.” For those living in the underdeveloped world, education is most often funded by fees charged to parents. For many families, school is an expensive privilege that they spend day in and day out clamoring to provide for their children. However, the reality is –there is never enough money to cover all the fees, so if there is money available –it often goes to pay for the schooling of the sons.
Even then, because gathering semester fees is so far out of the reach of a family, boys go to school erratically and often sit out for several semesters at a time while a family seeks to gather the money. While living in Uganda I watched family after family dealing with the weighty burden of collecting money that would cover boarding costs, food costs, uniform costs, exam sitting costs, supply costs and teacher’s salary costs.
For girls to make it to school, they often have to have an outside sponsor who will commit to provide the cost. Whenever circumstances work out just right and a girl gets the chance to go to school, you have a very motivated student!
For societies all over the world educating girls is a stabilizing proposition but Boko Haram finds it more scary than stabilizing as detailed in this New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof.