Evidence suggests that boys and men who have completed secondary education and higher, tend to hold more gender equitable attitudes, report less use of violence and higher rates of participation in care work. Comprehensive sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education can influence boys and girls to make positive, responsible and accountable choices related to sex and contraception and promote healthy and gender equitable relationships. However, while educational institutions provide a critical avenue to challenge stereotypical and harmful constructions of masculinity and femininity, they can also often perpetuate and maintain patriarchal and inequitable gender norms, prevent young people from accessing SRHR information and services, and be contexts for violence against both boys and girls.

Research shows that the experiencing or witnessing of such violence in childhood, including in school, can create a learned behavior of violence that is perpetrated in later life.  Young people’s lack of full and complete knowledge of SRHR can also contribute to a range of complications, including unintended pregnancy and vulnerability to the acquisition of HIV and AIDS. Thus, the education sector needs to be more deliberately engaged and supported to promote sustainable gender equitable attitudes and practices, and to transform harmful social and cultural norms, especially for boys and young men. Critical areas of concern are how to mainstream gender equality within all levels of the education system, particularly education sector policies and school curricula.  It is also important to effectively train and equip teachers to promote gender equality and provide comprehensive sexuality education in school settings, to more adequately include boys in such initiatives who have traditionally been excluded from this domain, and to ensure gender equal educational attainment, quality and retention. Finally, a greater understanding is needed on the ways to engage parents - including fathers - within the education system, to understand the opportunities that school settings may provide for the provision of psychosocial support, and to explore different pedagogical approaches to education that adopt a more equitable teaching-learning experience.

Learning aims

  1. Understanding the trends and shifts in social, economic and political factors that influence gender equitable access to educational attainment, quality and retention, and safety at schools for boys and girls
  2. Evidence on how educational policies, programs, curriculums, and institutions have developed, promoted and influenced gender equality 
  3. Evidence of how educating men and boys about gender equality and sexual health influences their gendered attitudes, practices and relations with women and girls
  4. Identification of best educational practices including policies and programs to promote gender equality at schools, to target specific sub-groups of boys and girls, and to promote sexual and reproductive health and prevent and address gendered violence in school settings