The ABC of Gender Equality in Education: Aptitude, Behaviour, Confidence tries to determine why 15-year-old boys are more likely than girls, on average, to fail to attain a baseline level of proficiency in reading, mathematics and science, and why high-performing 15-year-old girls still underachieve in areas such as mathematics, science and problem solving when compared to highperforming boys. In 2012, 14% of boys and 9% of girls surveyed by the PISA exercise did not attain the PISA baseline level of proficiency in any of the three core subjects. On the other hand, in the top-performing economies in PISA, such as Shanghai-China, Singapore, Hong Kong-China and Chinese Taipei, girls perform on a par with their male classmates in mathematics and attain higher scores in mathematics than boys in most other countries and economies around the world.

As the evidence in the report makes clear, gender disparities in performance do not stem from innate differences in aptitude, but rather from students’ attitudes towards learning and their behaviour in school, from how they choose to spend their leisure time, and from the confidence they have–or do not have–in their own abilities as students. In fact, the report shows that the gender gap in literacy proficiency narrows considerably–and even disappears in some countries–among young men and women in their late teens and 20s. Giving boys and girls an equal opportunity to realise their potential demands the involvement of parents, who can encourage their sons and daughters to read; teachers, who can encourage more independent problem solving among their students; and students themselves, who can spend a few more of their after-school hours 'unplugged'.

Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) plays a central role in the preparation of young people for a safe, productive, fulfilling life in a world where HIV and AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unintended pregnancies, gender-based violence (GBV) and gender inequality still pose serious risks to their well-being. However, despite clear and compelling evidence for the benefits of high-quality, curriculum-based CSE, few children and young people receive preparation for their lives that empowers them to take control and make informed decisions about their sexuality and relationships freely and responsibly.

Many young people approach adulthood faced with conflicting, negative and confusing messages about sexuality that are often exacerbated by embarrassment and silence from adults, including parents and teachers. In many societies, attitudes and laws discourage public discussion of sexuality and sexual behaviour, and social norms may perpetuate harmful conditions, for example gender inequality in relation to sexual relationships, family planning and modern contraceptive use.

A significant body of evidence shows that CSE enables children and young people to develop: accurate and age-appropriate knowledge, attitudes and skills; positive values, including respect for human rights, gender equality and diversity, and, attitudes and skills that contribute to safe, healthy, positive relationships. CSE is also important as it can help young people reflect on social norms, cultural values and traditional beliefs, in order to better understand and manage their relationships with peers, parents, teachers, other adults and their communities.

The 2018 Gender Review prepared by the Global Education Monitoring Report team, the sixth in the series, maintains the focus on a broad conception of gender equality that extends beyond counting boys and girls in classrooms. The review’s first part examines disparities in participation and skills, in education and political leadership positions, and in selected aspects of infrastructure and curricula. It also examines gender issues in professional development by exploring the role of education in three other SDGs: those concerning agriculture, health, and water and sanitation. The second part of the review analyses institutions, laws and policies to explore ways to determine and enforce accountability for gender equality in education.
 
The report reminds us that countries have made legal commitments for girls’ and women’s right to education through international treaties. Fulfilling these obligations means that governments should put in place laws and policies, which tackle the obstacles that women and girls face in accessing school and to prevent discrimination while they are in school.

“Her Turn”, a new report from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reveals that refugee girls at secondary level are only half as likely to enrol in school as their male peers, even though girls make up half of the school-age refugee population. 

Access to education is a fundamental human right. Yet, for millions of women and girls among the world’s growing refugee population, education remains an aspiration, not a reality.

For all refugee children around the world, the school gates are a great deal harder to prise open than they are for their non-refugee peers. For refugee girls, it is even tougher to find – and keep – a place in the classroom. As they get older, refugee girls face more marginalization and the gender gap in secondary schools grows wider.

The report is available here http://www.unhcr.org/herturn/

This report provides analysis of legal minimum ages for education, marriage, employment and criminal responsibility across 187 countries and raises questions regarding the cross-section of these issues and their effect on the right to education. Based on States Parties’ reports to the CRC Committee and analysed through the lens of the 4As, the report stresses the fundamental importance of eliminating contradictory legislation and practices that still undermine the right to education.
 
This report analyses national legislation on the duration of compulsory education and legal safeguards against adult responsibilities infringing on children's education. It shows that children's right to education is under threat from early marriage, child labour and imprisonment. The key question which this report addresses is concordance or discord among different ages at which children should be - or can be - in school, at work, married, or taken before a court and/or in prison. The relationship between school, work, marriage and criminal responsibility should be addressed within child-rights policy in individual countries. However, few countries have elaborated this as yet. Moreover, minimum and maximum ages tend to be set by different laws and are often mutually contradictory. Inconsistency between compulsory education and the full range of children's rights risks jeopardising the full development of the child’s personality, the key aim of education in human rights law.
Key resource
This report provides analysis of legal minimum ages for education, marriage, employment and criminal responsibility across 187 countries and raises questions regarding the cross-section of these issues and their effect on the right to education. Based on States Parties’ reports to the CRC Committee and analysed through the lens of the 4As, the report stresses the fundamental importance of eliminating contradictory legislation and practices that still undermine the right to education. The annotated version contains excerpts from State reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Key resource

This report provides analysis of legal minimum ages for education, marriage, employment and criminal responsibility across 187 countries and raises questions regarding the cross-section of these issues and their effect on the right to education. Based on States Parties’ reports to the CRC Committee and analysed through the lens of the 4As, the report stresses the fundamental importance of eliminating contradictory legislation and practices that still undermine the right to education.

Children in Afghanistan – and their households may face war, displacement, migration and natural disasters in trying to access education, in addition to more common difficulties such as poverty and lack of access. This study, part of the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children launched by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Institute for Statistics (UNESCO UIS), seeks to identify the barriers preventing children in Afghanistan from attending school, identify gaps in the current approaches to addressing these barriers and provide policy recommendations to move forward effectively. This is in line with the studies conducted elsewhere at the country and regional level for the out-of-school children initiative (OOSCI), based on existing data.

 

The African continent has the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world, according to the United Nations. Every year, thousands of girls become pregnant at the time when they should be learning history, algebra, and life skills. Adolescent girls who have early and unintended pregnancies face many social and financial barriers to continuing with formal education.

All girls have a right to education regardless of their pregnancy, marital or motherhood status. The right of pregnant—and sometimes married—girls to continue their education has evoked emotionally charged discussions across African Union member states in recent years. These debates often focus on arguments around “morality,” that pregnancy outside wedlock is morally wrong, emanating from personal opinions and experiences, and wide-ranging interpretations of religious teachings about sex outside of marriage. The effect of this discourse is that pregnant girls – and to a smaller extent, school boys who impregnate girls– have faced all kinds of punishments, including discriminatory practices that deny girls the enjoyment of their right to education. In some of the countries researched for this report, education is regarded as a privilege that can be withdrawn as a punishment.

Attacks on education by the insurgent group Boko Haram have caused horrific and long-term suffering for female students and teachers in northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram has abducted over 600 girls and young women from school during the nine-year conflict, with some held in captivity for years, and many experiencing harmful repercussions long after they return home.

The 106-page report, “‘I Will Never Go Back to School’: Impact of Attacks on Education for Nigerian Women and Girls,” is based on interviews with 119 victims and eyewitnesses of attacks on schools and education, including survivors of the three largest school abductions in Nigeria: Chibok (April 2014), Damasak (November 2014), and Dapchi (February 2018). Women and girls speak out about their terrifying experiences, including forced conversion to Islam, forced “marriage,” rape, and other physical and psychological violence, in the report.

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