"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Monday, December 03, 2018

Why Are Middle East Girls Better in School Than Boys?

Why Are Middle East Girls Better in School Than Boys?

"Jordan has never had a female minister of education, women make up less than a fifth of its workforce, and women hold just 4 percent of board seats at public companies there. But, in school, Jordanian girls are crushing their male peers. The nation’s girls outperform its boys in just about every subject and at every age level. At the University of Jordan, the country’s largest university, women outnumber men by a ratio of two to one—and earn higher grades in math, engineering, computer-information systems, and a range of other subjects.

In fact, across the Arab world, women now earn more science degrees on a percentage basis than women in the United States. In Saudi Arabia alone, women earn half of all science degrees. And yet, most of those women are unlikely to put their degrees to paid use for very long.

This is baffling on the most obvious levels. In the West, researchers have long believed that future prospects incentivize students to invest in school. The conventional wisdom is that girls do better in school as women acquire more legal and political rights in society. But many Middle Eastern women do not go on to have long professional careers after graduating; they spend much of their lives working at home as wives and mothers. Fewer than one in every five workers is female in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman...

Across the developed world, girls report doing one more hour of homework than boys per week, according to survey data, and boys are four times more likely than girls to report playing video games daily or almost daily. In many Muslim cultures, parents also tend to give girls less freedom. There is an ever-present anxiety that girls will shame the family by having a liaison with a boy. Teenage boys, meanwhile, congregate in the streets and in smoky cafés without supervision.

There are also practical differences in incentives: In Jordan, a boy with mediocre test scores can still get a job after high school, maybe with the police or maybe cleaning hotel rooms. It probably will not be a great job, but it will give him some money and allow him to marry someday, which remains a mark of status in the culture. What’s more, under the law, boys can often count on inheriting twice as much as girls.

Women and girls, on the other hand, have far fewer choices...

Boys’ schools are more violent places, concluded the study, which was funded by USAID. Over half of the boys interviewed said they’d experienced some kind of bullying in school over the previous year. Only 11 percent of girls said the same thing. Two-thirds of male teachers said they’d witnessed physical violence among students in the past year—compared with less than a quarter of female teachers. Boys also reported worse relationships with their male teachers...

The separation of students, teachers, and administrators into single-sex public schools may serve cultural and religious purposes, but it seems to create an unintentional ghetto for boys—where less-devoted teachers instruct less-engaged students amid more violence...

“We used to say, empowering women, and now we talk about empowering men,” Hamood Khalfan Al Harthi, the undersecretary for education and curriculum in Oman, says...

In Western countries, some studies suggest that boys—and girls—do better in single-sex environments, not worse. But everything depends on the execution... After South Carolina opened hundreds of single-sex public schools starting in 2008, for example, some teachers found that boys who had never gotten in trouble before were suddenly regulars at the principal’s office. “If you’re in a group of all boys, being disrespectful to the teacher may raise your status in the eyes of some boys,” Sax says. “Boys know that’s not true for girls.”...

Boys may be particularly harmed by bad schools and especially responsive to strong schools. Using Florida birth and school records, the researchers compared the effects of strong schools on siblings in the same families. The worse the school, they found, the bigger the gender gap in favor of girls. “School quality,” the study concluded, “is more consequential for boys than girls.”...

The fact that boys are struggling around the world means that too many schools are designed with a bias for girls. Too many teachers prefer compliance over competition, quiet diligence over risk-taking, and on average that leads to schools that are more comfortable for girls than for boys in every time zone"
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