UNESCO in its new policy paper says that boys should not be neglected if gender equality is to be achieved in education when government statistics shows that Bangladesh has lower enrolment of boys at secondary level.
Poverty and the desire or need to work can prevent boys from continuing their education or lead to irregular attendance and eventual dropout, says the policy paper titled ‘Achieving gender equality in education: don’t forget the boys’ came out early on Friday.
Relatively easy entry into the labour market may also result in complacency towards boys’ education in some contexts, it observes.
Out of the country’s 1.03 crore secondary school students, 46 per cent were boys in 2017, Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics data shows.
Boys’ percentage in total students in disadvantaged and outlying districts
like Sylhet, Sunamganj and Moulvibazar is 42 per cent, while in Panchagarh, Rangpur, Thakurgaon and Habiganj it is 43 per cent, according to BANBEIS statistics division chief Shamsul Alam.
BANBEIS officials said that that there are 44 per cent boy students in Chapainawabganj, Pabna, Rajshahi, Sirajganj, Dinajpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari in 2017.
District level education officials, talking to New Age, have said poverty often pushes boys to work in different fields to meet the household needs, which is a major reason of less number of boys enrolling at schools.
Besides, they add, boys get lesser number of stipends than girls from government, which is another reason behind the lesser number of boys at secondary level.
Moulvibazar district education officer ASM Abdul Wadud, acknowledged BANBEIS data, said that during his visit to different schools he even found that of the total students 70 to 75 per cent were girls.
‘When we asked about the reason, teachers and students told us that boys were not coming to school as they needed to work,’ Wadud said.
‘Most of the boys become child labour and usually work in tea garden,’ he said.
Wadud said that lesser number of stipends for boys in the secondary schools was another reason for the falling enrolment of boys compared with girls at schools.
Secondary school stipend programme project director officials said 30 per cent girls and 10 per cent boys got stipend.
Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education director general Professor Mahbubur Rahman said a detailed research was needed to know the reason for decreasing number of boy and increasing number of girl students in outlying districts. ‘We will take necessary steps after research,’ he assured.
Boys’ disengagement with education and high dropout rates have broad repercussions for gender equality throughout society, said the UNESCO policy paper.
Results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey, conducted in 2009 and 2010 in Brazil, Chile, Croatia, India, Mexico and Rwanda, showed that less educated men were more likely to express discriminatory gender views, said the policy paper.
Moreover, men who had not completed secondary education were more likely to perpetrate physical violence against a female intimate partner in Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea, sexual violence in Indonesia, and both forms of violence in Cambodia, it said.
Experiencing or witnessing violence at home increases the risk that a child will grow up to become a victim or perpetrator of violence. So, improving educational outcomes for young men, as future partners and fathers, can help mitigate violence and promote more equal gender relations within households, the policy paper said.
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