Does school effectiveness differentially benefit boys and girls? Evidence from Ethiopia, India and Vietnam

Marshall, Lydia and Moore, Rhiannon (2022). Does school effectiveness differentially benefit boys and girls? Evidence from Ethiopia, India and Vietnam. International Journal of Educational Development, 88, article no. 102511.



Learning is a fundamental human right, the basis of developing human capital and the foundation of human development. Basic skills provide individuals, their families and communities with the foundations needed to participate in society and to achieve better life chances. The shift in focus from mass access to mass learning has drawn attention to the question of who is and is not attaining these skills, and why. Opportunities to learn depend on access to schooling, but also the effectiveness of that schooling. There is considerable evidence of learning inequalities, both across and within countries. However, less is known about whether these patterns of inequality are rooted in variations in school effectiveness. In this paper we use evidence from Young Lives school surveys in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam to consider differences in girls’ and boys’ learning outcomes and progress and investigate how these patterns relate to school effectiveness. We explore whether girls or boys are ‘sorted’ into more or less effective schools and whether the same schools are differentially effective for boys and girls. Findings from India are perhaps closest to the ‘typical’ story that is often heard, in which girls, particularly those in rural areas, have lower attainment and attend less effective schools. In comparison, in Vietnam, girls have higher test scores and attend more effective schools on average, with this pattern driven by the higher performance of girls in rural areas. In Ethiopia, the divide between urban and rural areas is predominant in this context, over and above other areas of inequality including gender. Comparing results from these different areas of analysis and from three very different countries reveals the complexities of understanding how gender relates to educational outcomes. It demonstrates the importance of understanding gendered outcomes and school effectiveness in context.

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