Education: Boys are more at risk of dropping out of school, UNESCO warns

As a result, young men are underrepresented in tertiary education in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa. This phenomenon is particularly pronounced in Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and Western Europe, where 81 young men for every 100 young women are enrolled in higher education.

There are 87 in East Asia and the Pacific and 91 in the Arab states of Central and Eastern Europe.

According to UNESCO, poverty and child labor are the “barriers” to boys’ education. They prevent boys from fully engaging in learning and contribute to grade retention and dropout.

Early signs of school dropout

“Poverty and child labor are causing some boys to drop out of school,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.

According to a 2020 study, of the 160 million working children, 97 million were boys. One of the main reasons for these numbers is the lack of a protective legal framework.

Of the 146 countries with data, only 55 have aligned the minimum age for admission to the end of compulsory schooling and over 15 years. At the same time, more than 30% of them have a minimum age for admission to employment under 15 or do not clearly define a minimum age.

To avoid dropping out of school, UNESCO recommends recognizing the “warning signs” and offering solutions. In fact, in some countries, the signs that boys are falling behind in education appear towards the end of primary school.

In 57 countries with data, 10-year-old boys underperformed girls in reading and adolescence. At secondary level, boys lag behind girls in this area.

Align the minimum age for access to employment with the end of compulsory schooling

The risk of boys dropping out of school is highest in East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Arab States.

In general, for every 100 women, there are only 88 men enrolled in college. Young men are less likely to attend upper secondary education than young women in 73 countries, while the opposite is the case in only 48 countries.

“In order to combat this phenomenon, States urgently need to bring the minimum age for access to employment to the end of compulsory education,” said the UNESCO Director-General.

The UN agency’s report also shows that few programs and initiatives address the phenomenon of early school leaving among boys. It contains a number of concrete recommendations to prevent boys from dropping out of school. So it’s about making learning safe and inclusive and investing in better data and insights.

There is a need for UNESCO to build and fund equitable education systems and promote integrated approaches to improve the education of all learners.

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