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Everybody Wins When Girls Can Stay in School



All children have the basic human right to learn and yet millions of girls are being denied an education due to barriers such as poverty.  This lesson engages students in active discussions about the social and economic benefits of educating both genders and raises awareness of challenges facing girls in developing countries with the following learning activities:

  • Students will view a short film about two sisters with very different life paths and consider the impacts on the cycle of poverty.
  • Examine case studies of girls who have been able to obtain an education.
  • Explore the definitions of gender equality and gender parity and relate this information to culture.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Critical thinking.
  • Debate.
  • Listening and responding.


  • Good support materials such as photos, video and teacher notes.
  • Develops global citizenship skills.
  • Actively engages students in reflection and critical thinking about the issue of poverty as it relates to sustainability.


  • Does not include any action objectives.
  • No evaluation tools.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource explores Social Studies concepts such as children’s rights and poverty in relation to access to education. Citizen engagement and oral communication skills are also encouraged through a guided inquiry process that features open-ended questions and peer discussions.

A classroom project that extends the learning could have students organize a community walk that highlights the distance some girls must travel to get to school.  The walk might include stations with information about the associated perils of unsafe transport such as assault.  This activity could also be a fundraiser that enables a class to sponsor a student by providing funds for education.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

  • Human Rights (2)

    • Education
    • Gender Equality

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students will recognize that even though significant progress has been made in policies related to human rights, girls still face cultural challenges such as the high cost of education, early marriage and inadequate sanitation facilities.  Girls are also expected to assist with household chores such as obtaining a daily water supply.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

This resource highlights the economic and social benefits of keeping girls in school.  Educated women in developing countries are more likely to start their own businesses and re-invest in their community.  They are also less vulnerable to exploitation and can act as role models.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Satisfactory

Students develop an awareness that attitudes towards boys and girls are an important component of this issue.  Boys often hold higher value in the family as they are considered more likely to provide financial support.  Students could examine this ideology in more detail by comparing cultural beliefs in a developing country to social values in Canada.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

There are no action strategies in this resource but the topic could foster action projects such as developing a public awareness campaign about gender inequality in education.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

Students are challenged to explore their feelings about socioeconomic barriers like poverty, discrimination and inequality.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

The case studies and film build connections to individual girls that will create compassion for their struggles and appreciation for their triumphs over adversity.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

This lesson is focused on the high prevalence of gender inequality in developing countries, but students could expand the discussion to include examples within Canada, such as the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Poor/Not considered

The resource does introduce students to the UN Sustainable Development Goal that has a target to ensure all girls and boys have equal access to quality education by 2030.  Students could research how much progress has been made towards achieving this objective.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

The instructional approach uses self-expression as the basis for learning, thus encouraging peer dialogue and a critical examination of the content.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

This resource includes strong connections to Social Studies concepts surrounding equality and access to resources.  Students also participate in communication exercises including responding to information through writing, participating in open discussions and expressing their opinions.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory

Although much of the learning is teacher directed there is a great deal of peer to peer interaction which facilitates questioning and encourages inquiry.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

This resource does include some general strategies for differentiation such as providing sentence starters to support writing.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

The experiential nature of this resource could be enhanced by inviting a community member who has experienced gender discrimination to participate in an open discussion with the class.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Poor/Not considered
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

This resource does not include any evaluation tools but the open-ended questions could aid in formative evaluation of learning.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Poor/Not considered
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The case studies used in this resource are genuine stories from young girls who have been supported in obtaining an education.  The video "Sisters" also presents the true story of siblings who have very different school experiences so students are able to observe how education helps girls escape poverty.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Poor/Not considered
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.