Exploring the Gender Gap in Reading in Pakistan

  • Shaheen Ashraf Shah
  • Grace Armstrong
Part of the South Asian Education Policy, Research, and Practice book series (SAEPRP)


Early grade reading interventions aim to build reading skills in the critical early education years through evidence-based program design; however, these interventions often lack a foundational understanding of how gender influences educational practices, thus limiting their potential impact. Through the USAID-funded Pakistan Reading Project (PRP), a National Gender Study explored several gendered factors which impact learner and teacher practices, resulting in uneven reading performance outcomes among early grade learners in Pakistan. Employing Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) scores, classroom observations, teacher and learner surveys, and interviews, and grounded in peer-reviewed research, this chapter discusses the gender dynamics of selected reading achievement indicators. In Pakistan, like in many developing countries, the gender gap in reading translates to boys’ underperformance. Examining the multifaceted educational environment makes this gendered landscape visible and nuances performance trends at the regional level. This chapter discusses how social and cultural norms and practices predispose boys to engage less in reading, receive less educational support, and experience more violence at school and at home, correlating to weaker reading skill acquisition. Illuminating these structural barriers, we suggest improvements to early grade intervention design through a gender-informed feedback loop and provide further topics for continuing research.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaheen Ashraf Shah
    • 1
  • Grace Armstrong
    • 2
  1. 1.Pakistan Reading ProjectIslamabadPakistan
  2. 2.London School of EconomicsLondonUK

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