Do Boys Face More Challenges In Education?

Do Boys Face More Challenges In Education?

Girls have more difficulty in accessing education at the primary level but what about Boys. Do the boys face any challenge in their education? Yes, this is what a latest report from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says.

Harsh discipline, corporal punishment and other forms of violence at school, gendered norms and expectations and other factors are preventing boys from achieving academically, while increasing absenteeism and dropouts, said the UN report – Leave no child behind: Global report on boys’ disengagement from education.

In the forward,  UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said “to make education a universal right, we need to ensure that all youth have the educational opportunities to successfully shape their lives and futures.”

He said that policies, plans and resources are needed for supporting boys’ return to education, banning corporal punishment and tackling violence at school.


In the report,UNESCO says that for every 100 women globally, only 88 men are enrolled in tertiary education. It also mentions that fewer boys than girls are registered in upper-secondary schools in 73 countries.

The report points out that in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa, teenagers are underrepresented in higher education – particularly in North America, Western Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, where 81 young men for every 100 young women are in fulltime learning.

In East Asia and the Pacific, the figure is 87, while in the Arab States and Central and Eastern Europe region, it is 91 per 100.


The report mentions that poverty and the need to work leads to school dropout. Gendered norms and expectations impact on boys’ motivation and desire to learn. In many contexts, school activities and certain subjects are considered at odds with expressions of masculinity, making education unpopular with boys

Harsh discipline, corporal punishment and other forms of school-related gender-based violence impact negatively on boys’ academic achievement and attainment. Fear and experiences of violence lead to increased absenteeism and may contribute to dropout. Boys are more likely than girls to experience physical bullying and are often targeted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE).

The report revealed that 97 million were boys of the 160 million children engaged in labour activity in 2020. Of 146 countries with data, only 55 have a minimum age of employment aligned with the end of the countries’ stipulated years of compulsory education and above the age of 15, while 31 per cent have a minimum age for employment below the age of 15 or do not clearly define a minimum age, the UNESCO said.


The UNESCO talks of scarce policy attention given to gender disparities in education that disadvantage boys. “Existing policies are predominantly in high-income countries. Few low- or middle-income countries have specific policies to improve boys’ enrolment and completion of primary or secondary education, even in countries with severe disparities at boys’ expense,” it said.

The UNESCO report notes that parents, role models and inclusive learning environments are important to make boys thrive. Programmes engaging parents by providing reading materials and encouraging parents to read to their children can improve boys’ literacy skills. Exposure to male role models and mentors can dismantle stereotypes and increase boys’ motivation to learn. Whole-school approaches can support inclusive school environments, address learners’ needs, and are particularly effective in changing harmful gender norms, the report pointed out.

  • Advance equal access to education and prevent boys’ dropout
  • Make learning gender-transformative, safe and inclusive for all learners        
  • Invest in better data and generate evidence
  • Build and finance equitable, inclusive and gender-transformative education systems
  • Promote and ensure integrated, coordinated and system-wide approaches

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