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"Lewis and Lockheed are the ideal people to write about this timely topic; their ability to look at the phenomenon of doubly disadvantaged girls from different perspectives provides insights that more narrow investigations lack."
—Eric A. Hanushek, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University
"A must-read for students and practitioners of development."
—Larry Summers, former president of Harvard University and World Bank chief economist
"This is a very welcome report on an extraordinarily important problem, and I hope it will receive the attention it richly deserves."
—Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate and Lamont University Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University
No one disagrees that girls ought to go to school—for their own sake and because educating girls ensures a better future for their children and their societies. And in fact, in the last two decades girls' enrollment rates in developing countries, especially in primary schooling, have increased dramatically. But there are limits to the standard approaches (building more schools, training more teachers, providing essential learning materials) to achieving near-universal education, and millions of girls are still not in school. In some countries primary school enrollment among girls who are members of excluded groups—social "minorities"—is below 50 percent.
In 2006, the Center for Global Development published Inexcusable Absence: Why 60 Million Girls Still Aren't In School and What to Do About It, a book by CGD visiting fellows Maureen Lewis and Marlaine Lockheed, which illuminates this simple but stunning fact: three-quarters of girls who are not attending school around the world are members of groups that are socially marginal or excluded in the country where they live. That book set out practical approaches to address the problem, including cash grants to families to increase the demand for schooling in social groups where demand is low, anti-discrimination programs, and special efforts to improve the quality and outreach of schools in marginalized communities.
This new book, edited by Lewis and Lockheed, includes the more detailed technical analysis and the country case studies on which much of Inexcusable Absence is based. The technical analysis addresses the role of ethnic and linguistic heterogeneity in explaining differences across countries in school enrollment. Case studies cover heterogeneous countries—Laos (Hmong Hill Tribes), China (ethnic minorities), Pakistan (Balouchi and other isolated tribes in outlying provinces), India (scheduled castes and scheduled tribes), and Guatemala (indigenous groups)—where girls from minority groups are especially disadvantaged; and homogenous countries—Bangladesh and Tunisia—where girls are on a par with boys, and where both NGO and government programs have successfully changed attitudes and behavior surrounding girls' education with the result that both countries have reached parity in education.