Boys vs Girls: Who is Falling Behind?

Boy & GirlDo boys outperform girls in school? Are girls more likely to continue higher education? Who is falling behind? According to NPR, girls are outperforming boys "in math, science and reading in 70 percent of the 70-plus countries and regions surveyed by the Organization for Economic Development Cooperation and Development." The article continues, "Girls do better even in countries that rank low on U.N.'s gender equality index and that tend to discriminate against women politically, economically and socially — like Qatar, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates."

This is a problem plaguing Palestine too. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reports that "8.9% of males aged (15-29) years hold a university degree compared to 12.2% of females in the same age group. A further 3.0% of males had not completed any educational stage compared to 1.5% of females in the age group of (15-29) years." Statistics are showing that boys throughout the world are overwhelmingly under performing. Psychologist David Geary at University of Missouri-Columbia assess that there are a few possible reasons behind this:

  1. Difficulty with the structure of the school day. "It's tough for all kids to sit down and pay attention for six, seven hours but it's generally harder for boys," says Geary. "Boys are a little bit more active behaviorally and so sitting still requires a little more effort." What can schools do to better cater to hyperactive children? Better integrating recess or physical education may "help them pay better attention in class."
  2. Dropping out to join the workforce. Boys who drop out of school tend to do so in order to make income. Whether they want to earn money to help support their families or they "get much more prestige when they are out working... than being a student."

At TYO, we definitely see how these factors can hold young boys back. In Nablus, schools don't provide students with ample time for active learning. That means students are learning through rote memorization with little-to-no extracurricular activities to help break up their day. TYO offers children a safe outlet to participate in a variety of non-formal play and education.

Additionally, Many children in Nablus, especially pre-teen and teenage boys, are opting to work instead of continuing their schooling. This is very prevalent among the communities TYO works with, particularly in refugee camps, as young boys are often pressured work to help their families make ends meet. TYO strives to keep boys and girl academically on track by implementing Homework Help classes into its programming and by informing parents of the dangers of child labor.

While boys are struggling, we can't forget that girls too are still struggling for their right to education. Changu Mannathoko, senior education adviser at UNICEF reminds us that "in the poorest nations, gender discrimination keeps millions of girls from getting an education in the first place. Many of them are at risk of being attacked while going to school or have to drop out and take care of the house."

It's clear that despite gender, both boys and girls in the developing world face the risk of falling behind. At TYO, we do everything we can to ensure #EducationForAll.