Leave no child behind: global report on the disengagement of boys from education – Global
Boys at significant risk of not completing school, UNESCO report warns
Although girls have more difficulty accessing education and constitute the majority of out-of-school children at primary level, boys face increasing challenges at later stages, according to new UNESCO report Leave No Child Behind aside: Global report on the disengagement of boys from education.
Globally, only 88 men are enrolled in higher education for every 100 women. In 73 countries, fewer boys than girls are enrolled in upper secondary education, while the reverse is true in 48 countries. These UNESCO data highlight a global phenomenon: child labor and poverty, among other factors, prevent boys from fully participating in learning and contribute to repetition and dropout.
In all regions except sub-Saharan Africa, young men are underrepresented in tertiary education. This situation is particularly acute in North America, Western Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, where 81 young men for every 100 young women are enrolled in higher education. In East Asia and the Pacific, the equivalent is 87, while in the Arab States and Central and Eastern Europe region, it is 91.
Poverty and Child Labour: Obstacles to Boys’ Education
Of the 160 million children engaged in a professional activity in 2020, 97 million were boys. One of the main reasons is the lack of a protective legal framework. Out of 146 countries with data, only 55 have a minimum employment age aligned with the end of compulsory education and above the age of 15, while 31% have a minimum employment age below 15 or do not clearly define a minimum age.
“Poverty and child labor can lead boys to drop out. To avoid this, it is urgent that States align the minimum age for admission to employment with the end of compulsory schooling.” Audrey Azoulay Director General of UNESCO
Identify warning signs and propose solutions
In some countries, the signs of boys’ academic backwardness already appear at the end of the first grade. In 57 countries with data, 10-year-old boys performed worse than girls in reading skills and adolescents continued to lag behind girls in reading skills at secondary level. This trend is seen across East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Arab States, which have some of the highest risks of school dropout among boys.
The UNESCO report also reveals that only a few programs and initiatives address the phenomenon of boys’ disengagement from education. It provides a set of concrete recommendations to prevent boys from dropping out of school, make learning safe and inclusive, invest in better data and evidence, build and fund equitable education systems, and promote integrated and coordinated approaches to improve the education for all learners.