Gender disparity in education has usually been seen as disadvantaging girls. Although this continues to be the case in many places, the phenomenon of boys' underachievement — both in terms of participation and performance — has also become an issue in a number of countries.
For the Commonwealth Member States in the Caribbean, boys’ academic underperformance and high dropout rates are a matter of great concern. COL’s Strategic Plan 2015–2021 places particular emphasis on addressing this gender issue.
In 2006, the Commonwealth of Learning and Commonwealth Secretariat co-published Boys' Underachievement in Education: An Exploration in Selected Commonwealth Countries. It found that boys’ underachievement, both in terms of participation and performance, was a result of a complex interplay of forces, with roots in general characteristics of society as well as education systems. It further pointed to the solution lying in the expansion of school spaces and facilities, as well as challenging established notions of gender roles and stereotypes.
COL has commissioned a follow-up report, which aims to:
One of the major changes since 2006 documented in the upcoming report is that boys’ underperformance tends to arise where there is gender parity in education. As countries move towards greater gender parity in school participation, boys’ underperformance is being noticed more and more, and tends to be concentrated in literacy more than in any other learning area.
The report includes a range of recommendations, which include:
The report will be published in Summer 2017.