Reporterís Notebook

Candid observations from field visits highlight challenges and successes in girls' education. The section includes entries from Eastern and Southern Africa; West and Central Africa; South Asia; Middle East and North Africa; Central and Eastern Europe/Commonwealth of Independent States; Latin America and the Caribbean; and East Asia and the Pacific.


At Bokhtar School #43 in Tajikstan, students have taken the problem of unsafe drinking water and nonexistent sanitation as a challenge, transforming it into a way for girls to become involved in schools and community life.

Eastern and Southern Africa

Names of the victims are etched into a long black wall at the public memorial in Kigali, Rwanda. Eleven years on, children's lives are still clouded by the shadow of the genocide: Orphans wander the streets, the social safety net has been strained by HIV/AIDS, and girls in particular are likely to drop out of school to help care for their fractured families.

Middle East/North Africa

In Djibouti's rural areas, the absence of secondary schools discourages parents from sending their children to school. Students who finish primary education with success have to move to the main towns for secondary education. The few of them who do so end up staying with relatives, an option that is not always possible for girls. In the rural village of Ardo, Fatma Daoud Omar's sister left for the town of Tadjourah more than five years ago, when her elder daughter finished primary school, taking two of her younger children along so that they, too, can finish their education when the time comes. The youngest ones were left behind in Fatma's care.

West and Central Africa

The Gambia: The village chief in Sare Samba is a friendly man, constantly surrounded by children. He and other fathers in the village have been observing the success of their schoolís Mothersí Club. They donít want to miss out and are thinking of forming a Fathersí Club.

East Asia and Pacific

Cambodia: In Theay Commune, Prey Veng Province, a teacher uses the space under her stilt house for a literacy class she teaches to girls of different ages. The girls come once a week to learn to read and write so that they can join the formal education system. Our guide, the programme coordinator of the organization that pays for the classes, smiles as she explains the advantage of the arrangement. ďA short commute for the teacher means much less teachersí absenteeism,Ē she says.

Latin America and the Caribbean

We dropped in on a session of the Childrenís Parliament in Guatemala City. The room was packed with teenagers who were strategizing how to have a say in government policies. As we had just come from a briefing that described the long journey ahead for girls in quest of equal opportunities, it was refreshing to see a young Mayan girl confidently leading the group. Isabella Hernandez Gastro, 17, is President of the Parliament and defies stereotypes of shy indigenous girls.