Impact / Blog


September 13, 2022

United World Schools

4 mins

At United World Schools (UWS), we are painfully aware that gender parity in access to education does not guarantee gender equality within the classroom.

Girls face additional disadvantages and are at a higher risk of dropping out of school by the time they reach their teenage years in comparison to their male peers.

Usually this is due to differing gender-based cultural norms and expectations, such as child marriage and the social stigma surrounding menstruation. In Ratanakiri province, Cambodia, where UWS operates, nearly 60% of girls are married before they are 18 years old (Action Plan to Prevent & Respond to VAC 2017). Long walks to and from school also present additional safety concerns for girls due to the threat of gender-based violence.

Inclusive education is central to our education model. From the outset, we work in partnership with communities who commit to sending both girls and boys to school. Through our WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) facilities and safeguarding measures (for which we have been accredited by Keeping Children Safe), we ensure the school environment is safe for girls and considers their needs. We hire and train community teachers who teach children in a language they understand (initially the local language) and use positive, child-centred teaching methods. For us, education is about every child feeling supported by their teachers and parents, safe in the classroom, and having the opportunity to pursue the futures they choose.

This is why we are proud to be working in partnership with Educate A Child (EAC), a global programme of the Education Above All Foundation, to deliver a Dropout Prevention Programme and further our inclusive education agenda. Our three-year Dropout Prevention Programme will support the children most at-risk of education marginalisation and early dropout, to stay in school. Addressing the barriers to learning faced by girls is a crucial part of this programme.

As part of this programme, we have established Girls’ Clubs to support girls on relevant issues and also to serve as support mechanisms for the girls at-risk of early school dropout. The clubs aim to increase girls’ resilience, as well as awareness and knowledge of how to exercise their rights.