When 10-year-old Mai and her brother Eu completed the second grade in their small community of Ban Xai, XiengKhuang province, Lao PDR, they weren’t sure if they would be able to study further. The nearest school offering Grade 3 was eight kilometers away, across hilly and muddy trails that would require at least an hour of travel.
Fortunately for Mai and Eu, their parents heard that a new thatched-roof dormitory had been constructed next to the school, offering safe accommodation during the week for both boys and girls. To the delight of the children, their parents agreed to let them live there during the week so they could attend school. “I never
Across the East Asia and Pacific region, concerted efforts to keep children like Mai and Eu in school are bearing fruit: educational enrollments have increased across the region, translating into greater gender parity and access to education. While the region as a whole is progressing towards a more equitable future of education, each country – and different areas within each country – have experienced varying degrees of success towards this end.
Highlighting these persisting gender disparities among and within countries in the region was
the focus of an eye-opening report published in 2009 titledGender Equality in Education: East Asia and Pacific – Progress Note. Prepared by UNICEF’s East Asia & Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) in collaboration with the East Asia and Pacific Regional United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), theProgress Noteand its relatedSnapshotaim to present analysis of progress and gaps towards achieving the Education For All (EFA) goals in the region.
Notably, the DevInfo platform was selected by the Regional Thematic Working Group on EFA, which included UNICEF EAPRO, UNESCO and
other partners, to compile, organize and disseminate the volumes of data required to undertake a thorough analysis of the gender equity issues involved. The resulting product –Asia and Pacific EFAInfo– contains data from wide ranging sources, including national and sub-national administrative data, survey data on and related to education, internationally comparable data to enable cross-country comparisons, and datasets from special studies.
According to Cliff Meyers, Regional Advisor for Education, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, “At no other time has there been a compilation of regional educational data as focused and deep as EFAInfo.”
In fact, the Asia and Pacific EFAInfo database was exclusively used to generate visuals for the report, which displays page after page of thought-provoking tables, graphs and maps.
The presentation objects highlight both progress across the region as well as persisting pockets
of disparities among and within countries, supporting the report’s assertion that regional gender issues are not as simple as often assumed.
Of particular relevance to policymakers in the region are the visuals generated from the EFAInfo database documenting specific groups
of children – both girls and boys – who continue to fall through the cracks of education systems. These disadvantaged groups include ethnic minorities, migrant communities, displaced populations, poor families, disabled children, and people living in remote areas. The visuals and their accompanying textual analysis provide an excellent resource for decision-makers requiring evidence to move forward with more equitable policies at all government levels.
With DevInfo being used to support advocacy efforts towards gender equality advocacy in the region, the East Asia and Pacific Region can look forward to continued progress in ensuring quality education for all girls and boys.
For more information, please contact Cliff Meyers, UNICEF Regional Advisor for Education, firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Tabongphet Phouthavong, “Aeon and UNICEF: Building schools and opportunities in Laos,” UNICEF EAPRO website,http://www.unicef.org/eapro/060510_AEON_school.pdf.