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Boys shun university life

CANADA

TES correspondents report on efforts to close the gender gaps in teaching and learning

Fifty per cent more girls go to university than boys in Canada, according to a study published in the National Post.

While the number of young men going to university increased from 215,000 to 220,000 between 1988 and 2000, the number of women shot up from 224,000 to 299,000.

Jane Gaskell, dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, said the rise in female entries is due to professions such as nursing, teaching and social work now requiring degrees.

High-school programmes to encourage women into university and non-traditional careers, introduced in the mid-1970s, are also a factor.

These included introducing girl-friendly teaching materials in science and maths.

The gender gap has turned the spotlight once more on boys' poorer performance in schools, especially in reading, and negative attitudes towards education.

Pilot projects to engage boys with reading and the idea of going on to university have been set up across the country.

Primary schools in Ontario and Newfoundland found they had inadvertently been using girl-friendly reading texts with boys, so brought in more informational texts and adventure stories.

A study by the University of Prince Edward Island, found alienation from education was the main reason why males drop out of high school. The university has set up an outreach programme in which undergraduates go to high schools to tutor and mentor at-risk pupils.

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