In South Sudan, 73 percent of girls aged six to 11 are not at school, while there is just one teacher for every 80 pupils in the Central African Republic. Picture: AP

South Sudan has been identified as the toughest country for girls to get an education, according to a study by the ONE Campaign.

According to the report released on the eve of the International Day of the Girl which was marked on Wednesday, the Central African Republic was ranked the second toughest place for girls to get an education, followed by Niger.

The ONE Campaign is a policy and advocacy organisation of more than 8 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.

ONE’s “Toughest Places for a Girl to Get an Education” investigation showed that nine of the top 10 countries where girls fail to get a life-changing, poverty-busting education are in Africa, and all are fragile states.

In South Sudan, 73 percent of girls aged six to 11 are not at school, while there is just one teacher for every 80 pupils in the Central African Republic.

The report, which has been hailed as groundbreaking, also highlights some of the many barriers girls continue to face in securing a good education.

“Over 130 million girls are still out of school - that’s over 130 million potential engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers and politicians whose leadership the world is missing out on. It’s a global crisis that perpetuates poverty,” said ONE Campaign president and chief executive Gayle Smith.

“Across countries in Africa today millions of girls didn’t go to school, or walked long distances in dangerous conditions to get there, or sat in a classroom without a teacher or textbooks. This is not just about getting more girls into school, it’s about the women they grow up to be: educated, empowered and employed.”

The index was compiled using global data on 11 factors that reflect girls’ experience of education from school completion rates to female literacy and pupil-teacher ratio.

Countries including Somalia and Syria failed to make the list because there was insufficient data about girls in some countries.

“One of the most striking things about this index is countries where we know there are serious challenges, but they didn’t make the list because information about girls is not being collected.

“Educating girls starts with making sure girls count and are counted,” said Smith.

“In 2018 leaders have a chance to turn the corner on the girls’ education crisis - it starts with fully funding the Global Partnership for Education. This is a global crisis, and it needs an emergency response,” said Smith.

ONE Africa deputy director Nachilala Nkombo said: “It is worrying that 53 million of the 130 girls not at school are girls in Africa.

“Without investments for girls left out of school, Africa risks missing out on achieving its demographic dividend.

“We urge African governments to increase their investment in education to reach 20 percent of their national budgets to education by 2030 and have targeted education investments that expand skills and opportunities for its young people, particularly young women in poor communities.”

- Cape Times