This article examines the issue of boys repeating primary grades and dropping out of school at early ages, highlighting the detrimental effects of patriarchal norms on their education and well-being. It also emphasizes the importance of creating safe and inclusive learning environments for boys to thrive.
In a lot of countries, girls are more likely than boys to never go to school, which is something that is rightly spoken about and protested against, but in many countries, boys are seen repeating primary grades and dropping out of school at early ages, which, unfortunately, has not been discussed as often as it should be. A UNESCO report attributed poverty, harsh learning conditions, corporal punishments, the need to do work, and gendered norms to this. According to the report, no less than 132 million boys of primary and secondary school age are out of school. Boys are less likely than girls to acquire reading abilities by the age of 10 in 57 nations with data on learning poverty, and teenage boys continue to lag behind girls in secondary education.
Boys and Educational Disadvantages:
Traditionally, the societal expectation of boys as breadwinners often lead parents to prioritize work over education, resulting in early school dropout rates among boys. Poverty, harsh learning conditions, corporal punishment, and gendered norms further contribute to boys being left behind in the education system. Whether it be manual labour or just larger familial responsibilities, people tend to feel lesser about stunting their child’s education due to pre-existing societal norms like this. Bullying that occurs in schools, both physically and verbally, is also significantly influenced by the patriarchy.
The Impact of Patriarchy on Boys’ Well-being:
Patriarchal ideas not only affect girls but also pose significant threats to boys’ health and development. The pressure to conform to traditional masculine norms leads to harmful risk-taking behaviour and discourages boys from seeking help when needed. Physical and verbal bullying, perpetuated by patriarchal beliefs, creates a hostile environment within schools, contributing to emotional and psychological distress among boys. This association of violence with power and respect shapes their understanding of masculinity, reinforcing a cycle of harmful behaviours.
To address these challenges, it is crucial to foster a feminist consciousness among adolescent boys, helping them recognize patriarchal privilege without fostering guilt or defensiveness. By challenging gender norms and promoting empathy, boys can become agents of change in dismantling harmful stereotypes and embracing a more inclusive society. It is important to create safe spaces within schools where boys can explore alternative expressions of masculinity, engage in non-violent activities, and develop emotionally without societal pressures.
Image Source: CEPR
In the pursuit of gender equality in education, it is imperative to acknowledge and address the disadvantages faced by boys, while continuing to keep in mind issues that marginalize girls. By challenging patriarchal norms and providing inclusive educational environments, we can empower boys to transcend traditional gender roles, nurture their emotional well-being, and ensure they have equal opportunities to complete their education. Embracing a holistic approach that benefits both girls and boys is essential for creating a more equitable and inclusive education system.