The data that is available on MENA show that illiteracy is much more
prominent among females than males. National figures mask country differences
in literacy and educational attainment between urban and countryside areas. The
limited data that exist indicate much higher illiteracy levels for both men and
women in countryside areas. (King, Women’s education in developing countries (p. 139), June 1993) Girls are less likely to go to primary school than boys. If they are
already enrolled, they are not likely to complete primary school or go to
secondary school. Female enrollment at all levels has increased in the region
since the 1960s. At the primary level, Jordan, Tunisia, and Turkey have
achieved universal enrollment for boys and girls. Morocco and Saudi Arabia
continue to fall short of this, especially for girls.
Annual growth rates shows greater improvements for girls than for boys
in all countries at the primary and secondary level and at the tertiary level.
This result in growth in female
enrollments, the gender gap in education is narrowing (King, Women’s education in developing countries (p.
139), June 1993).
The availability of a school in the local community increases girls’
enrollment. Researchers have found that
in the countryside in Egypt the distance to a secondary school is seen as
negative with the ambitions of parents for their children’s education and the
chance to attend secondary school. Interviews with parents in Egypt, Morocco
and Tunisia indicated that the parents are reluctant to send their daughters to
distant schools because of the physical risks that is involved. This reluctance
applies whether the girl would live in boarding facilities. Some are also
reluctance due to the fact that their daughters may be needed at home to help
with domestic or farm work. (King, Women’s education in
developing countries (p.159), June 1993)