About two thirds of countries and territories reached gender
parity in primary education by the target year of 2005, but
in many other countries – especially in sub-Saharan Africa –
girls are still at a disadvantage. Fewer countries have reached
gender parity in secondary education. The largest gender
gaps at the primary school level are in sub-Saharan Africa,
the Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia. At the
secondary school level, girls are disadvantaged in South Asia,
and boys in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Gender disparities in primary schooling are slightly larger
in rural areas than in urban areas and among poorer
households. Asian countries with data on gender parity
show significant variation. In Indonesia, Nepal and Thailand,
gender parity in primary education is just as likely for
children from the poorest 20 per cent of households as
for those from the richest 20 per cent. In other countries,
however, gender parity is much more likely for children from
the wealthiest households. This is true, for example, of both
Bangladesh and Pakistan. In Pakistan, however, far fewer
girls than boys in the poorest 20 per cent of households
are in school; in Bangladesh, boys in this quintile fare
worse than girls.
A similar pattern applies to disparities based on residence.
Indonesia and Thailand, for example, have achieved gender
parity in both urban and rural areas. In the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic, urban boys and rural girls are
disadvantaged; in Pakistan, rural girls are disadvantaged.