UK study: Blame poverty not gender for education inequality

Tue, 2017-01-17 14:45 -- Compassionate C...

Here's another example of how valuable data has become – now that we're analyzing it and not just collecting it. Academic researchers at the University of Cambridge looked at data from the "Young Lives" project, a study by the University of Oxford to track the educational journeys of children in four countries -- Ethiopia, Peru, India and Vietnam. What they found may be a wake-up call for organizations focused on closing gaps in educational access around the world. – Philip Bane

Numerous organizations, including the United Nations, are focused on ensuring equal access to education for women and men around the world. But the study conducted by Cambridge academics found that gender is not necessarily the most significant roadblock – in particular to higher education.

The work by Sonia Ilie and Pauline Rose of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education found that income inequality may have more to do with getting an education than gender inequality.

The data they analyzed was recorded periodically when students were age 8, 12, 15 and 19. Here's a look at what it showed, according to a report on the study by Times Higher Education:

  • The richest 20% of young people are at least three times more likely than their poorest peers to be enrolled in higher education at age 19.
  • In Ethiopia and Vietnam, a higher percentage of the poorest 19-year-old women (9%) were participating in higher education than the poorest 19-year-old men (2%).
  • Also in Ethiopia, 22% of the richest 19-year-old men and 30% of the richest 19-year-old women study at university level.
  • At primary school level, income was far more important than gender in determining whether children went to school or not.

The take-away
"We need to keep on focusing on gender inequalities," Dr. Illie told Times Higher Education, "but it is clear that the gaps in educational outcomes are far larger when you compare different income groups."

The danger is that focusing on gender equality may cause advocacy groups to overlook the impact poverty is having on the ability of men and women to improve their lives through education.

Related topics:
AT&T ed-tech accelerator accepting apps from ventures driving social impact
New Smart Campus addresses youth unemployment and access to education


This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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