A recent report from Unesco says that boys are more likely than girls to drop out of school. This is because boys are more likely to have problems at home.
Even though the issue is called a “global phenomenon” in the report, some of the regional comparisons show that boys in Arab states are at a higher risk than boys in other places.
The report, called “Leave No Child Behind: Global Report on Boys’ Disengagement from Education,” tries to explain why boys are dropping out of school and urges countries to do something about it.
The people who wrote it looked at data about boys and schooling in more than 140 countries. They found that most kids who aren’t in school at the primary level are still girls, but boys have problems too and need help.
The report says, “Supporting boys doesn’t mean that girls lose out, and the same is true for girls.” “Girls and boys, as well as society as a whole, benefit from equal education opportunities.”
The report says that poverty, the need to work, armed conflicts, forced migration, corporal punishment, and physical violence are all things that make boys less interested in school.
But this is a problem even in rich countries. In an unusual situation, “the government’s policy that all Kuwaitis will have a job seems to be a reason for young students not to keep studying,” says the report.
Huge Price Tags
The report says that when boys stop going to school, there are huge social and financial costs.
It says that child labor and poverty are two of the things that keep boys from going to school. In many countries, boys repeat grades more often than girls and are more likely to drop out of school if they don’t finish.
The report also talks about fears that the Covid-19 pandemic will cause more kids to drop out of school. The report says that we won’t have a clear picture of how Covid-19 affects enrollments until the end of this year. But it says that in 2020, the last school year before the pandemic, 259 million children and young people who should have been in elementary or secondary school were not in school. About 132 million of them, or just over half, were boys.
According to the report, most of the boys who don’t go to school are in the upper secondary level. It also says that in the Arab States and sub-Saharan Africa, around a third of the population is concentrated at the primary level.
The report says that young men are less likely to go to college than young women in almost every region. In 2019, 88 men for every 100 women enrolled in tertiary education, which includes universities, vocational colleges, and trade schools.
In this one area, though, the Arab region did better than the rest of the world. The numbers showed that in Arab countries, 91 young men for every 100 young women were enrolled in some kind of postsecondary education. On the other hand, there were 81 young men for every 100 young women in North America, Western Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Poverty and the work of children
The report says that by 2020, about 160 million children, or one in ten children around the world, would be working. It was thought that about 97 million of them were boys.
One of the main reasons these kids can’t go to school, according to the report, is that there aren’t any laws to protect them. “Of the 146 countries with data, only 55 have a minimum age of employment that is above the age of 15 and clearly aligned with the end of compulsory education,” the report says.
“Poverty and the need to work can make boys drop out of school,” Unesco’s director-general, Audrey Azoulay, said in a statement released with the report. She said that to stop this, states must “align the minimum age of employment with the end of compulsory education” as soon as possible.
Trying to find answers
The report says that by the end of primary school, boys in some countries are already falling behind in school. In 57 countries where data is available, 10-year-old boys have a harder time learning to read than 10-year-old girls. At the secondary level, boys also continue to fall behind girls in reading skills. This is true in many places, including the Arab States, where boys are more likely to drop out of school than in other places.
The Unesco report said that only a small number of programs and projects try to stop boys from dropping out of school. It also has a list of practical suggestions for how to keep boys from dropping out, make learning safe and open to everyone, and encourage integrated, coordinated ways to improve education for everyone.
Kuwait: A Unique Dilemma
The report has a case study of Kuwait as an example of a country with a lot of money where boys are still likely to drop out of school.
The study says that a “culture of entitlement” in Kuwait is one of the main reasons why boys stop going to school. People have come to expect that the government will give them high-paying jobs in the public sector that they can keep for life and don’t have to do much to keep. So, “boys don’t worry about getting a job after school, no matter what their qualifications are or how much schooling they’ve had.”
The report says that boys in Kuwait are not as well educated as girls. In reading, science, and math, they are not as good as girls.
Focus group discussions for the study showed that boys have lower educational goals than girls and are more confident than they should be because they think they will be successful even if they don’t do well in school.
In the end, the report says that there should be equal access to education and that boys shouldn’t stop going to school. It also says that all children everywhere should get 12 years of free education.