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TIME ALLOTMENT: Three 55 - minute class periods (excluding homework time for Culminating Activity)

Today, over 115 million children have never set foot inside a school. The fact is that for children living in developing countries, the dream of a first day of school is yet to be realized. The daily realities of poverty, political instability, regional conflict, geography, and cultural or traditional values all play a role to varying degrees -- and the issue of gender disparity makes this fact even more staggering. Full and equal access to education (Article 26) as outlined in the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and "The Convention on the Rights of the Child" (Articles 2,3,28, and 29), has clearly been out of the reach of poor children -- and even more so in the case of girls. Nearly two-thirds of children who are denied a primary education are girls. In the least developed countries, nearly twice as many adult women than men are illiterate. (Source: UNFPA http://www.unfpa.org/icpd/10/icpd_ed.htm) If you happen to be a female, you are less likely to have access to a quality primary education and beyond -- contributing to the feminization of global poverty.

Yet, there is hope despite this current state of affairs. 189 nations have pledged to meet 8 major Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. In doing so, nations hope to improve the social and economic development of all peoples. Included in these goals are those that address education and gender disparity:

  • MDG 2: Achieve universal and primary education.

  • MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.
Through the activities outlined in this lesson, students will become familiar with the current barriers standing in the way of educational opportunity -- especially for girls. They will watch clips from the WIDE ANGLE film "Time for School" (2003) to understand the sense of urgency surrounding this issue, the potential benefits that can result from educating girls, and the ways that local communities are trying to address these problems.

Note: This lesson focuses on MDG 2 and MDG 3. An introduction to the overall goals of the Millennium Project should be presented prior to this particular lesson.

SUBJECT MATTER: Global History and Geography/World History


Students will be able to:
  • Identify the circumstances that perpetuate gender disparity in educational opportunity in developing nations;

  • Discuss the importance of full educational opportunities for females in developing nations;

  • Examine the role of the United Nations and Non Governmental Agencies (NGOs) in promoting educational opportunity for females in developing nations;

  • Evaluate the degree to which international efforts to promote gender equity in education have been successful.

New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies
Standards available online at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/pub/sslearn.pdf.

    Standard 2. World History (commencement)
    Performance Indicators:

      1. Students:

      • Define culture and civilization, explaining how they developed and changed over time. Investigate the various components of cultures and civilizations including social customs, norms, values, and traditions; political systems; economic systems; religions and spiritual beliefs; and socialization or educational practices.

      • Analyze historic events from around the world by examining accounts written from different perspectives.

      3. Students:

      • Analyze the roles and contributions of individuals and groups to social, political, economic, cultural, and religious practices and activities.

      • Explain the dynamics of cultural change and how interactions between and among cultures have affected various cultural groups throughout the world.

New York State Regents Global History and Geography Curriculum Tie-Ins
Curriculum available online at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/pub/sscore2.pdf.

    Unit Eight: Global Connections and Interactions

      A. Social and political patterns and change

        1. Human and physical geography

        7. Status of women and children

          a. Economic issues, e.g., child labor

          b. Social issues, e.g., abuse and access to education

Advanced Placement World History Curriculum Tie-Ins
Course Description available online at:
(Requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader)

    Major Developments:

      5. New forces of revolution and other sources of political innovations

      6. Social reform and social revolution (changing gender roles; family structures; rise of feminism; peasant protest; international Marxism; religious fundamentalism)

      8. Demographic and environmental changes (migrations; changes in birth rates and death rates; new forms of urbanization; deforestation; green/ environmental movements)

    Major Comparisons and Snapshots:

    • Pick two revolutions (Russian, Chinese, Cuban, Iranian) and compare their effects on the roles of women

    • Compare the legacies of colonialism and patterns of economic development in two of three areas (Africa, Asia, and Latin America)

    • Compare the different types of independence struggles

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WIDE ANGLE, "Time for School" (2003) (selected clips)

Photo of Neeraj.
Night School
Photo of Indian children attending night school.
Photo of Nanavi in school.
School in Benin
Photo of a Beninese girl in school.

Web Sites:

  • Voices of Youth -- Be in the Know
    This site is an introduction to the facts around these issues. Students will learn about the millions of children, who have never attended school and just how many of these happen to be female. Students will also easily click and identify the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and find out more about MDG 2 and MDG 3 specifically.

  • Girls' education -- UNICEF
    This site outlines the specific factors that act as barriers for girls. Gender discrimination has many facets that affect girls' daily realities, especially in developing countries.

  • What's going on? Girls' education in India
    This site introduces students to the situation of gender disparity for girls in India. There are case studies for three girls named Aarti, Geetha, and Leela. Short film clips tell each of their stories. Explanatory notes for each girl and several links (i.e. the Millennium Development Goals) are included.

  • A Day in the Life of Haitza
    This interactive slide show presents the story of a young Nicaraguan girl named Haitza. She shares a typical day of challenges as she tries to attend and complete her education. Students will gain an understanding of Haitza's perspective as she shares her (and her mother's) value of education as a means to achieve a better life.

  • Educated Girls -- A Cornerstone of Healthy Families and Societies
    This document outlines the benefits that educating girls will bring towards creating a healthier society as a whole. The challenges/ obstacles faced by females throughout developing regions are explained in clear language.

  • Voices of Youth -- Real Life Stories
    This site offers more real life stories in the words of children, especially girls. Links show the obstacles faced by children, especially girls, and just how much these children wish to attend school.


For the class:

  • Computer monitor or computer connection to television/projector for clip viewing

  • Chalkboard, Whiteboard

  • Sentence strips for "Word Wall" (new vocabulary words/terms, as needed)

For each pair of students:

For each student:


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom, or upload all links to an online bookmarking utility such as www.portaportal.com.

Preview all of the video clips and Web sites used in the lesson to make certain that they are appropriate for your students, currently available, and accessible from your classroom.

Download the video clips used in this lesson onto your hard drive, or prepare to stream the clips from your classroom. RealPlayer is needed to view the video clips. If your classroom computer does not have it, download RealPlayer for free at www.real.com.

Prepare a list of five to ten key vocabulary words/terms that students will encounter as they view the sites and/or clips. It may be in the form of a handout with definitions included. Create a "Word Wall" in your classroom as you add new words/terms.

Organize the order of all handouts and photocopy one for each student (or pair).

If additional background information is needed, review the origins of the project and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For example, visit http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/ -- this site offers information and further links on statistics, country articles, and global partnerships to meet the target goals. Also recommended is http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/press/qa.htm, which has a short Q & A section. In addition, this site provides a wealth of information on the Millennium Project goals: http://www.millenniumcampaign.org/site/pp.asp?c=grKVL2NLE&b=138312. Click on MDG 2 and MDG 3 to get more background information for this lesson. You may also find additional links here. Reports, Web sites, and other documents related to all the goals -- especially goal two and goal three -- are found here. These two sites are sponsored by the World Bank Group and contain details about goal targets, stats, news, and region and country data: http://ddp-ext.worldbank.org/ext/GMIS/gdmis.do?siteId=2&goalId=6&menuId=LNAV01GOAL2 and http://ddp-ext.worldbank.org/ext/GMIS/gdmis.do?siteId=2&goalId=7&menuId=LNAV01GOAL3.

When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.