Education is the most important instrument for human resource development. Education is becoming a universal human right and an important component of women empowerment. The past two decades have witnessed the obligation of a curriculum restraint, centrally determined directives about teaching and learning, the persistence of a patriarchal education power structure, and a hostile political climate in which equality issues have been ignored and differences denied. The issue of gender inequality in education is very broad. Although there are many similarities among many societies, there are also some differences that change the perception on the problem for each society and individual. It would be fair to claim that different cultures, societies, households and eventually individuals, perceive the role of education in different ways. Likewise, in order to understand the obstacles to gain gender equality in education, it is essential to understand the broader picture of the studied society, e.g., the perception of boys and girls; masculinity and femininity; caring and leadership and their roles in society. These perceptions vary as well within each society and household.
The book focuses primarily on gender differences of school-aged pupils. An important objective of this book is to put the gender argument in context by examining the extent of the gender gap and discussing the role of gender in education alongside the role of other pupil characteristics, particularly social class and ethnicity. In addition, the focus is not solely on the concepts of the “gender gap” and “boys’ underachievement” but also acknowledges that, on the one hand, many boys are high attainers and, on the other, that many girls face significant challenge. Regarding gender inequality in education, the theoretical literature suggests that such gender inequality reduces the average amount of human capital in a society and thus harms economic performance. It does so as by artificially restricting the pool of talent from which to draw for education and thereby excluding highly qualified girls (and taking less qualified boys instead). Moreover, if there are declining marginal returns to education, restricting the education of girls to lower levels while taking the education of boys to higher levels means that the marginal return to educating girls is higher than that of boys and thus would boost overall economic performance. On the empirical evidence, there is a considerable literature now that documents that gender gaps in education reduce economic growth.
This book grounds the education of women and girls in the realities of their lives and experience in diverse areas of the developing world.