How gender problem influence achieving primary and secondary education in the third-world countries

The gender problemacy within primary and secondary education has always been one of the most burning and now in the 21st centuries the attention of world leaders and United Nations Organization has turned towards this significant social problem. The statistical data provided by UNICEF shows that the situation in the present day world is still far from gender equality, when it comes to education sphere: “Yet recent statistics show that for every 100 boys out of school, there are still 117 girls in the same situation. Until equal numbers of girls and boys are in school, it will be impossible to build the knowledge necessary to eradicate poverty and hunger, combat disease and ensure environmental sustainability” (UNICEF, 2010). According to this statistic we could define that gender inequality in the educational aspect plays quite a significant role in the whole struggle against such  environmental problems, eradication of poverty and hunger, combat disease. Nowadays this serious problem was put among the most senior tasks in the UNICEF and under control of the United Nations Organizations, doctors, volunteers, and specialists from different countries try to overcome the difficulties of gender problemacy within the educational sector: “Educating children helps reduce poverty and promote gender equality. It helps lower child mortality rates and promote concern for the environment. Universal primary education by definition requires gender parity. Gender parity in primary education, meanwhile, is of limited worth if few children of either sex participate. Further, education ”“ specifically free primary school for all children ”“ is a fundamental right to which governments committed themselves under the 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child” (UNICEF, 2010).

The Importance of Educational Equity within the Social Aspect

“The National and International Community, having realized the importance of education for individual and collective well being, organized an International Conference on Population Development (ICPD ” 1994) to eliminate gender any bias in educational materials that enforces or reinforces inequalities between men and women. The World Conferences culminated in the Fourth Summit at Beijing (1995) to reaffirm Governments’ commitments to intensify efforts guaranteeing gender free education and universal access to the tools of knowledge. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979); The Copenhagen Declaration (1995) and The Millennium Goals (2000) have formulated Action Programs to establish gender equality in education to empower women for social justice and to accelerate better social transformation. The National Education system will be a form of social engineering to eliminate sex”stereotyping in primary and secondary education. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stands for guaranteeing:

  1. Free and compulsory education at least in the elementary and fundamental stages;
  2. Education directed to the full development of the human personality for respecting the human rights and fundamental freedom” (Banerjee, 2007).

It is essential that such an important question attracted attention of international community as yet, in well developed countries it is still quite an acute problem. In the following chart you could see how widely its spread on the whole planet: “The current state of gender disparity can be assessed with data from the Global Education Digest 2004 from UNESCO, which has estimates for the male and female secondary school net enrollment ratio (NER) in 141 countries. This data was used to create the map below:

Gender disparity in secondary school: male-female net enrollment ratio, 2001/2002


Gender disparity in primary school: male-female net enrollment ratio, 2001/2002



(Huebler, 2005)

We see that there are still existing countries where the level of gender disparity in the secondary school is 10% and more. And there are still too many countries that do not participate in this project, yet it is still very important for the whole world. The idea that improving the situation, liquidate gender disparity and let children to get normal secondary education would certainly help to solve many problems, which origins lie in this particular problem. It would be also very important to note the significance of the school role in the life of children: “School also offers children a safe environment, with support, supervision and socialization. Here they learn life skills that can help them prevent diseases, like how to avoid HIV/AIDS and malaria. They may receive life-saving vaccines, fresh water and nutrient supplementation at school. Educating a girl also dramatically reduces the chance her child will die before age five” (UNICEF, 2010)

Organizations that Participate in Improving the Situation on the International Level and Generalizing of the Problem in the Burning Areas

Social activities provided on the solving of the set problem are mainly coordinated by United Nations Organization and UNICEF in particular. The question of gender equality within the primary and secondary education has become among the most important, becoming a goal to reach for the both organizations. “UNICEF advocates quality basic education for all, with an emphasis on gender equality and eliminating disparities of all kinds. In particular, getting girls into school and ensuring that they stay and learn has what UNICEF calls a “multiplier effect.” Educated girls are likely to marry later and have fewer children, who in turn will be more likely to survive and be better nourished and educated. Educated girls are more productive at home and better paid in the workplace, and more able to participate in social, economic and political decision-making” (UNICEF, 2010). It is essential that in many countries it has become the historical tradition (often having religious background) that girls do not need education at all and their aim is family life, giving birth to numerous children and work about the house. This social prejudice has become typical for the Islamic world, where girls traditionally got education at home. If we speak about countries of African continent, it would be essential to note that social-political environment in the continent does not create a good atmosphere for raising the level of education at all. Constant civil wars and military conflicts in many countries leave children without parents and from the early years they became familiar to the military arsenal but not to the books.

Densely populated countries of Asia also have great problems with their education, that also have historically and culturally based origins: “Girls continue to be disadvantaged in many countries of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. In three countries, the NER of girls was more than 20 percentage points below that of boys: Benin (26% difference in NER), Yemen (24%), and Chad (23%). In 14 more countries, the gender disparity in primary school enrollment was between 10 and 20 percentage points: Pakistan (20%), Cote d’Ivoire (19%), Liberia (18%), Togo (16%); Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and India (15%); Iraq and Equatorial Guinea (14%); Niger (13%); Mali and Burkina Faso (12%); Burundi and Ethiopia (11%). In 20 countries, the gender disparity was between 5 and 10 percentage points, and in 33 countries it was between 1 and 5 percentage points” (Huebler, 2005). The investigation of this social problem is mainly based on the statistical data and information rendered by the UNICEF, UNO and people that strongly deal with the question. Their investigations and statistical data significantly help in

The Methods of Investigation and Influential Inquires of the Subject.

Qualitative and quantitative methods of research are the main the main methods that could perfectly illustrate the research itself and provide all the necessary data comparatively to the other countries situation. Critical evaluation of the problem helps to understand its social significance and importance. And this particular investigation were used feminist paradigm, focusing on male domination and influence of this factor on the social life and critical communicative methodology, that makes a focus on the interactions to construct social reality and.

Critical Examination of International Situation on the Gender Problem Influence Achieving Primary and Secondary Education

South East Asia

South East Asia has become one of the most burning areas in the question of Gender Problem in Achieving Primary and Secondary Education. Multicultural area has significant religious cultural and legal difference, significantly influenced by its history, has a serious impact on the problem. It is a well known fact that girls in Islamic families do not actively participate in the social life. Traditionally they get their education at home (being taught to be wife, mother and house keeper).  It is essential that male domination, in Islamic countries influences all the spheres of social life, education in particular. Id we speak about non-Islamic countries of the South East Asia we would notice that multicultural diversity seriously influence social life and traditional hierarchy also violates children’s rights, female children in particular. Here you could find statistical data provided by Friedrich Hubler after the realization of Millennium Plan by UNICEF on primary education:

“In Afghanistan, primary school participation by girls was very low until the late 1990s. Fewer than 20 per cent of all girls of primary school age were in school. Since 2000, primary school net attendance rates by girls have increased rapidly but are still below the respective values for boys. In Bangladesh, primary school net enrollment and net attendance rates have increased steadily since the late 1980s. In addition, girls reached the same level of primary school participation as boys around the year 2000 and since then female enrollment and attendance rates have been above male rates. In Bhutan, there has been a steady increase in primary school participation since 1990 and at the same time a reduction in the gap between boys and girls. The latest enrollment data shows that the country has reached gender parity in primary education.

In India, data from a variety of sources shows high levels of primary school participation. Girls continue to lag behind boys but the gap is smaller than it was in previous years.

The Maldives has been near universal primary education and gender parity since the late 1990s. In Nepal, there has been a remarkable increase in primary school attendance and enrollment by girls since the 1980s while boys’ net enrollment and attendance rates have stayed at about the same level. The most recent DHS data from 2006 indicates that gender disparity has almost disappeared at the primary level of education.

In  Pakistan, data coverage is spotty and inconsistent, and no steady trend toward increased primary school participation can be observed. At the same time the data from the different sources confirms that gender disparity is a persistent problem, with fewer girls than boys in primary school.

In  Sri Lanka, there is also weak data coverage but the latest enrollment rates indicate that the Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education and gender parity have been reached” (Huebler, 2008)

We could observe positive dynamics in the development of this burning social problem. It is essential that there are still countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan with very complicated economical situation and centuries male domination still have a lot of work to do to overcome the problem of gender inequality.

But also we could observe positive dynamics within the Southern Asia, such countries as Nepal and Bhutan. Probably the biggest country of the region observed is India, celebrating cultural diversity, India could be called among the most burning areas as culturally the influence of traditions there is very high and play significant role in the social institutions in particular. Yet, even in India, Millennium plan achieved certain results. It is a well known fact that despite the cultural fact, India is suffering from overpopulation, that also cause a number of problems with primary and secondary education. Providing statistical information it would be essential to note that India is quickly developing for the recent years, raising not only economical structures, but educational as well. But if we speak about secondary education, comparatively to the primary, in the region, we could observe pretty different picture in the whole region: “In Afghanistan, gender disparity at the secondary level of education, indicated by the value 0.33, is much greater than at the primary level, where the gender parity index is 0.61. On the other hand, there is hardly any gender disparityin the survival rate to the last grade, as indicated by the value 0.96. Disparity by household wealth is consistently greater than disparity by gender or area of residence. The biggest disparity exists for secondary school attendance of children from poor and rich households, as indicated by the value 0.20. The overall EPI is 0.55, which shows that the education system in Afghanistan is far from equality.

In Bangladesh, disparity at the secondary level of education is greater than at the primary level, similar to Afghanistan. In addition, overall disparity linked to household wealth (0.66) is more important than disparity linked to gender (0.92) or the area of residence (0.93).

In India, the parity index for the secondary school net attendance rate is 0.65 and the parity index for the survival rate to the last grade is 0.95. The biggest disparity across the three indicators and across the three categories of disaggregation is observed for secondary school attendance by household wealth. The value 0.35 means that the secondary school NAR among children from the poorest wealth quintile is two-thirds lower than the secondary school NAR among children from the richest quintile.

In Nepal, similar disparities as in India are observed. Again, there is greater disparity linked to the secondary NAR and to household wealth than to other indicators and levels of disaggregation.

In Pakistan, gender disparity is less significant than disparity by area of residence. The survey data for Pakistan contains no information on household wealth (Huebler, 2008).

According to qualitative and quantitative methods of investigation it was found out that the situation in the area with the secondary education is still very difficult, up with the positive dynamics there are a lot things to do and to develop to overcome this difficulties. The Millennium Plan is determined to 15 years and there we could observe reasonable results at this difficult area: “Conversely, denying children access to quality education increases their vulnerability to abuse, exploitation and disease. Girls, more than boys, are at greater risk of such abuse when they are not in school. For many villages, a school also provides a safe haven for children, a place where they can find companionship, adult supervision, latrines, clean water and possibly meals and health care” (UNICEF, 2010)

Latin America

Latin America is probably the most successful area within the target areas, where gender problematic in primary and secondary education is quite acute. For the recent 15 years the rapid progress, supported by the local governments and international organization gave serious support and it is supposed that up to 2015 the countries of Latin America would reach the satisfactory level: “Success looks certain for universal primary education strictly by the numbers.

The primary net enrolment/attendance ratio grew an average of 0.6 per cent each year between 1980 and 2001. It needs to continue at a pace of 0.4 per cent for the region to reach the finish line. The likelihood that children under five years old today will complete primary school by 2015 is greater than or equal to 95 per cent in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. It dips to between 90 per cent and 95 per cent for Brazil, Costa Rica and Venezuela” (UNGEI, UNICEF, 2005). But it is essential that in even in the area with generally positive dynamics there could be observed some countries with lower indexes. For the area of Latin America it is Haiti: “While the region on the whole is keeping its promise of education for all by 2015, individual countries are in grave danger of falling short. Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, had only 54 per cent of its children in primary school in 2001. Chances are even slimmer for Haiti to enrol all school-age children by the due date since civil upheaval and the brutality of Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004 have left the country in shambles. Guatemala is also off the mark for meeting the deadline, with a total primary enrolment/attendance ratio of 85 per cent in 2001. If the country is to catch up, it will need to increase its net enrolment/attendance ratio to 1.07 per cent per year” (UNGEI, UNICEF, 2005). It is essential that these two countries, being the most problematic in the area are devoted more attention. Supported by UNICEF, UNGEI and UNO, Latin American countries try to solve the problem with the gender parity which is also quite acute for this area. It happened historically from the early years of colonization and male domination. Generally girls’ education was provided for upper classes only and it had a significant impact on getting education. Low development of economics and infrastructures also had a significant impact. Now the situation is rapidly changing, but still the male domination could be observed: “Gender parity in education by 2005 is on track throughout much of the region. If anything, gender disparity in schools favours girls over boys.

Underlying these achievements, however, are problems of pervasive discrimination against girls and women, and educational disenfranchisement among indigenous people, especially girls. The good news is that in 2001, only two countries ”“ Grenada and Guatemala ”“ had significantly fewer girls than boys in primary school, the usual measurement of the Millennium (UNGEI, UNICEF, 2005)m Development Goal of gender parity in education. The less favourable part of the equation is that the Bahamas, Haiti and Saint Kitts and Nevis have significantly more girls in school than boys. Those countries may miss the 2005 Goal on the other side of the disparity problem” (UNGEI, UNICEF, 2005). If we speak about secondary education here statistical data shows us that the girls are far more likely be enrolled than boys do: “At the secondary level, girls are far more likely to be enrolled than boys regionally ”“ 47 per cent versus 41 per cent. This disparity is particularly profound in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Trinidad and Tobago. UNICEF projections for secondary education show five countries ”“ Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Suriname and Venezuela ”“ are on course to meet the goal of gender parity in secondary education”Â  (UNGEI, UNICEF, 2005). The UNICEF program on the secondary level is aimed on making school more attractive and welcoming for children of both genders, but especially for boys. Local organizations are persuaded that the roots of the problem are underlying in the family, where violence of rights and domestic abuse is dominating: “Courageously breaking the silence, many community leaders are calling attention to the phenomenon of gender disparity among boys and the resulting spike in violence and crime. This has been particularly problematic in Jamaica, where domestic abuse, gang lawlessness and crime are on the rise” (UNGEI, UNICEF, 2005).

Latin America is one of the biggest success in overcoming the difficulties in the field of gender problems in the education. The history of Latin America does not observe so great adherence to traditions and is open for further development. But at first they should overcome such a difficulty as mental understanding, which inoculate with gender inequity: “Gender disparity favouring girls is also a by-product of the school system and socialization.

Traditional teaching methods and curricula tend to reinforce gender stereotypes and maintain the status quo. Girls are often socialized to be passive and compliant, and schools reinforce this. In many ways, classroom norms such as rote memorization and obedience match expected female behaviour, both reinforcing stereotypes and rewarding girls’ behaviour”(UNGEI, UNICEF, 2005).

With the help of UNGEI, UNICEF and UNO and local governments that actively participate in the programs the tendencies are quite positive and they have a good chance for becoming a goal up to 2015.

West and Central Africa

The area of West and Central Africa could be probably called the most burning according to the gender parity in education. The zone of constant military conflicts where children became familiar to arms earlier then they learn to read or write, West and Central Africa has been treated as the most problematic area as whole, in education sphere in particular: “he net enrolment/attendance ratio was a mere 55 per cent in 2001. More than a third of the 21 countries worldwide with net primary school participation below 60 per cent are in this region. Fewer than two school-aged children in every five are in school in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger. In addition to having large numbers of children out of school, West and Central Africa has a yawning gender gap.

Regionally, the gender parity index is 0.86, the largest gender gap among all regions. Of the 24 countries in the region, only five ”“ Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Mauritania and Sao Tome and Principe ”“ are likely to achieve gender parity in primary education by 2005. Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Niger have gender parity indicts below 0.75. High repetition and low retention rates are common throughout the region. For every 10 children enrolled in grade one in Chad, for instance, only 1 will make it to grade five without repeating. The failure of girls to complete primary school is evident when analyzing gender parity in secondary education. Of the 10 countries in the world with the lowest gender parity index for secondary education, 7 are in West and Central Africa” (UNGEI, UNICEF, 2005). Illustarting the whole picture in the region (the majority of its inhabitants live under the level of poverty) it would be essential to note that in majority of this countries the Millennium Program failed (too many inner factors that seriously influence the work of specialists), still there are some countries, whose achievements should be noted: “Not surprisingly, the brutal civil war in the Central African Republic cut the net enrolment ratio to less than 40 per cent in 2003”“2004 from 63 per cent in 1996. If there is any good news, however, it’s that the schools closed during 2002”“2003 were all reopened in 2004. In many ways, this small victory in education can be built upon, giving hope that more children will soon be reached. Satellite schools in remote and rural areas have reached out to boys and girls in Burkina Faso, helping to reduce the gender gap by 3.2 points. Of the additional 18,600 children who now have access to education because of the new auxiliary schools, over 8,200 are girls. Some 40,000 students are expected to enrol in satellite schools, half of whom will be girls. While Benin has seen a negligible increase in gender parity from a gender parity index of 0.77 in 2001 to a projected gender parity index of 0.78 at the end of 2005, it has spawned innovations to keep girls in school. ”˜Girl-to-Girl’, for instance, is a mentor project that pairs older girls with younger female students who are at risk of dropping out”(UNGEI, UNICEF, 2005).

Creating child friendly schools fighting the same time for gender equity in the educational sphere is probably the main aim of the international representatives on the continent. These small achievements in the total ruins and poverty could be defined as really great. We should not forget that the region is out of breath because HIV/AIDS epidemics. It is also a real threat to the lives of people in the region. All the factors that are supported by never ending military conflicts seriously prevent the achieving serious results. The investigators consider that this area could be hardly defined as a goal of the Millennium program, but anyway even slight changes to better are very significant for poor children, living in West and Central Africa.


Observing three areas, which are considered to be the most problematic districts there could be  made several outlines. The problem of gender in education  could not be solved in very short period of time as it have to deal with centuries old traditions and unwillingness to change a thing. Military conflicts and poor economics significantly influence general primary and secondary education. But still there are a number of positively developing social dynamics that have significantly changed for the recent years. Observing this quite complicated sociological question through the qualitative and quantitative methods of sociological research we came to the conclusion that the level of gender inequality is still very high, and seriously influencing educational sphere. But now there are a number of programs participating on the international level, working on improving the situation.

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