A recent report by Action Aid International finds that girls who are better educated begin having sex later, are more likely to use condoms, and have a decreased chance of contracting HIV. The report, “Girl Power: The Impact of Girls’ Education on HIV and Sexual Behavior,” finds that girls who have completed secondary school have less risky behavior than those who have only completed primary school. The report also finds that better educated boys are more likely to have safer sex and protect themselves against HIV than less educated boys.
The authors of the report stress the special need of girls to be educated, as “Young women receiving higher levels of education are likely to wait longer before having sex for the first time, and are less likely to be coerced into sex.” Women are hurt by the structure of the education systems in most African countries, which charge fees for schooling that increase with grade level, leaving many girls without the opportunity to finish primary school, let alone secondary school.
The report recommends that schools stop charging students for primary school to increase education rates for both girls and boys. It also recommends that comprehensive sexual education be taught in primary school, with condom use heavily promoted, according to Population Action International.