6 graphs on GPE’s results in gender equality and girls’ education
Many countries have seen progress in gender equality and girls’ education, but challenges remain. View 6 graphs to understand the state of gender parity in access to education and learning outcomes, and the ongoing efforts within the partnership to improve gender equality.
June 26, 2019 by Meg Ahern, Global Partnership for Education|
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A classroom at the Gombe Institute for blind students in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo
CREDIT: GPE/Guy Nzazi

GPE’s Results Report 2019 shows that while many countries have seen progress in gender equality and girls’ education, challenges remain. The following six graphs provide an overview of the state of gender parity in access to education and learning outcomes, as well as ongoing efforts within the partnership to improve gender equality in and through education. (All charts are extracted from the report unless otherwise noted.)

1. More girls are completing primary school than before – but they are not catching up to boys

While the rates of progress are good, girls’ primary completion rates have been rising at essentially the same pace as those of children overall. This means that the gender gap is not narrowing.

Proportion of children who complete primary education: Overall (green) vs. girls (pink)

Proportion of children who complete primary education

2. The gap between girls and boys completing lower secondary school is narrowing – but too slowly

The good news is that, on average, girls are gaining some ground in completing lower secondary school.  However, this progress is much slower than expected. And girls in countries affected by fragility and conflict are still especially disadvantaged: as of 2018, only 41.2% of them complete lower secondary school, below both the average for all children in these countries (45.5%) and the average for girls in all partner countries (49.6%).

Proportion of children who complete lower secondary education: Overall (green) vs. girls (pink)

Proportion of children who complete lower secondary education

3. Recent progress on gender parity in school completion has been varied

The ratio of girls to boys completing primary or lower secondary school (also known as the gender parity index) has shifted in different ways across countries: in favor of girls or boys, and toward or away from parity. Overall, though, girls continue to be the ones more often disadvantaged. A gender parity index of 1 indicates perfect parity, and in this context, values below 1 indicate more boys than girls completing school; values above 1 indicate more girls than boys completing.

Gender parity indices of primary completion rates: 2015 vs. 2018
Source: GPE compilation based on data of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (database), Montreal, http://www.uis.unesco.org (2018).

4. The proportion of girls out of lower secondary school is stagnating

While out-of-school rates for all children are still too high, girls’ rates have been coming down slowly but steadily for primary school. But for lower secondary school, the rates of girls out of school have stagnated over the past three years.

Primary out-of-school rates: Overall (green) vs. girls (pink)

Primary out-of-school rates

Lower secondary out-of-school rates: Overall (green) vs. girls (pink)

Lower secondary out-of-school rates

5. While girls’ and boys’ learning outcomes are equal on average, they vary widely from one country to another

On average across the 18 GPE partner countries with data, girls’ and boys’ performance is at parity in both math and reading (1.00 and 1.01 respectively).  However, whether girls’ or boys’ performance is stronger in either subject varies greatly from one country to the next, underscoring that disparities are driven by factors within the education system, in the context of local sociocultural factors, and are not intrinsic.  For example, in Zambia and Malawi, girls do better than boys in both reading and math, but especially excel in math; while in Chad and Niger, girls perform worse than boys in both subjects, but fall behind more in math.

Proportion of students achieving the minimum proficiency level in reading and mathematics at the end of or during primary education: gender parity indexes by country. Most recent data points available between 2005 and 2015, grade 6.

Proportion of students achieving the minimum proficiency level in reading and mathematics
Source: GPE compilation based on data of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (database), Montreal, http://www.uis.unesco.org. Most recent data points available between 2005 and 2015, grade 6.

6. Many GPE partner countries are taking on gender inequality

Of the 37 active implementation grants in FY18, 31 partner countries specifically invested in gender equality, according to the 2018 Portfolio Review. Out of those 31, 18 take a targeted approach, focusing on improving the enrollment and retention of girls through demand-side and supply-side interventions. This includes the provision of learning materials to girls, increased investments in female teachers and administrators, strategic communication initiatives to raise awareness for girls’ education, incentive schemes, and provision of gender-sensitive school facilities. In Lesotho, these interventions are focused on boys, who are more likely to be out of school.  The other 13 grants mainstream gender-responsiveness into the architecture of the project and/or system, as in Guinea’s design of a gender-responsive in-service teacher training program.

Proportion of FY18 implementation grants with activities specifically for gender equality and/or girls’ education

Proportion of FY18 implementation grants with activities specifically for gender equality and/or girls’ education
Source: GPE Secretariat

GPE continues to pursue gender equality in education through strategic partnership efforts, such as with the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) to support partner countries to put gender equality at the heart of their education sector analysis and planning. Workshops drawing on the GPE-UNGEI Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans have reached 26 countries so far, with further workshops planned. 

Challenges faced by adolescent girls in particular, and what GPE is doing to respond, can be found in the new GPE Brief, Educating girls: The path to gender equality.

These efforts comprise part of GPE’s broader commitment to gender equality in and through education, captured in its Gender Equality Policy and Strategy 2016-2020 and the GPE 2020 strategic plan.

Read the full Results Report 2019

Results Report 2019 blog series:

1. 12 key findings from GPE's Results Report 2019

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