Boys’ Underachievement in Education

An Exploration in Selected Commonwealth Countries

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Boys’ Underachievement in Education
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Publication date: 1 December 2006
Size: 240mm x 165mm
ISBN: 978-0-85092-845-7
Pages: 148

Gender disparity in education has usually been experienced 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.

This book reviews the research on boys’ underachievement and presents the arguments that have been put forward to understand its causes. The authors also present new studies from Australia, Jamaica, Lesotho and Samoa; and they use both the research and the evidence from the case studies to explore the causes and policy implications of this trend – the first time a truly cross-regional approach has been applied to the issue.

This book will interest all education policy-makers and analysts concerned to ensure gender equality in school education.

ContentsExpand or collapse me

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations



1. Introduction and Background
The Issue
Gender Equality in Education and Boys' Underachievement
How the Report is Structured

2. What the Existing Literature Says
Common Theories and Practical Analyses
Gender Identity: Debating Masculinity
The Interaction of Socio-Economic Factors and Gender
Boys' Underachievement in the Wider Gender Equity Context

3. Varying Dimensions and Lessons Emerging from Selected Commonwealth Countries
Social and Economic Background of the Countries
The Issue: Commonalities and Divergences
What Explains These Trends?
The Initiatives
How to Address the Issue: Lessons and Questions from the Initiatives
The Need for Further Research and its Nature


4. Australia: Socialisation and Socio-Economics
What Does PISA Indicate?
A Government Primary School in Queensland

5. Jamaica: Alienation and High Drop-out Rates
Defining the Problem
Situational Context
An Innovative Approach Adopted by Four Inner-City Schools

6. Lesotho: A Case of Under-Participation
The Macro-Level Picture
The Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre

7. Samoa: A Major Challenge to the Education System
The Nature of Boys' Underachievement
Post-Secondary Education and Employment
Cultural Context: Masculinity, Gender Identity and Societal Responsibility
Don Bosco Technical Centre


About the Authors

ReviewsExpand or collapse me

Boys’ Underachievement should be read by all who are involved in educational policy, whether at institutional or national level.’

Journal of Research in International Education, December 2007, Vol. 6 No. 3, 373–375

‘The problem of boys' underachievement in education is intrinsically interesting and the book offers a very engaging and readable analysis of the several factors that generate it, along with strongly credible pointers on how to ameliorate it.’

International Review of Education, January 2008, Volume 54, Issue 1, 113–130

‘well-presented short report, with relevant and useful sidebar quotes highlighting essential findings...’

Gender and Education, Vol. 21 No. 1, January 2009