Gender Inequalities in South African Schools: New Complexities

  • Tia Linda ZuzeEmail author
  • Unathi Beku
Part of the Policy Implications of Research in Education book series (PIRE, volume 10)


This chapter considers the complexities of gender in South African education. Using recent nationally representative data we find that girls achieve better average results than boys across subject areas, grade levels and time. Gender differences based on school type reveal that the widest gaps are in government schools and rural settings, with girls outperforming boys. In independent schools, Grade 9 boys perform slightly better than girls. Attainment was lower for boys than for girls in every racial group. Boys tended to be older than girls and to have higher dropout rates in secondary schools. School climate results reveal that boys are more likely to be bullied in every type of school but that boys and girls in public schools are at a greater risk of being bullied than boys and girls in independent schools. Girls are less confident about their mathematics ability despite the achievement differences that favour girls. This seems to suggest that other factors either at school or in the external environment are undermining how girls view their potential in technical subjects. We conclude that there are a number of boys and girls who are at serious risk of disappearing from the education system if gender targeted interventions are not carefully considered.


Equal education Gender equality Gender roles Gender discrimination School violence 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research on Socioeconomic Policy, Department of EconomicsUniversity of StellenboschMatielandSouth Africa
  2. 2.School of Built Environment and Development StudiesUniversity of KwaZulu NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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