The UN Children’s Fund UNICEF has revealed a growing worldwide disparity in maths skills between girls and boys.
The report raises the alarm on how issues of sexism and gender stereotypes have undercut the potential of girls in the classroom.
The UNICEF report features new data analyses covering more than 100 countries and territories, which reveal in headline terms, that boys are up to 1.3 times likely to get the maths skills they need, compared to girls.
“Negative gender norms and stereotypes often held by teachers, parents, and peers regarding girls’ innate inability to understand mathematics, are contributing to this disparity.
“These stereotypes are projected onto young girls and often undermine their self-confidence, setting them up for failure, UNICEF says.
“Girls have an equal ability to learn mathematics as boys – what they lack is an equal opportunity to acquire these critical skills,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.
“We need to dispel the gender stereotypes and norms that hold girls back – and do more to help every child learn the foundational skills they need to succeed in school and in life.”
“Learning maths at a young age strengthens memory, comprehension, and analysis, in turn improving children’s ability to create, the report notes.
UNICEF warns that children who do not master basic maths and other foundational learning, may struggle to perform critical tasks in the future.
UNICEF called on governments to commit to reaching all children with quality education, and arguing for renewed effort and investment to re-enroll and retain all children in school; increase access to remedial and catchup learning; support teachers and give them the tools they need; and make sure that schools provide a safe and supportive environment so all children are ready to learn