Gender Inequality in the Middle East Education System

Education must provide opportunities for self-fulfillment; it can, when at its best, provide a rich and challenging environment. Thus, my senior studies have helped me to explore my own way in. I remembered my Education class at Birzeit University where my professor discussed about Education and Gender inequality.

The issues of inequality and equality of education are still at the core of the education debate in the Middle East (ME). While many experts agree on the need to improve the quality of education, including content, tools and expertise, there are many claims that equality has already been achieved, especially at the basic education level. For instance, Palestinian women are performing better in schools: 80% of the students who get the highest grades in the “Tawjihi” (high school) exam are women.In addition, the Ministry of Education in the Palestinian Territories has good and effective policies that provide education for all. Closing the gender gap has been central to all the activities of the Ministry.

However, most female university students study at Open University (a distance-learning institution), which provides them with limited employment possibilities but fits well with their traditional role as housewives. The good results achieved in the Tawjihi examination are due to the fact that young women have few chances for recreational activities and social mobility. They have more time to study in a way compatible with the traditional examination system.

Indeed, there are other hidden perceptions of gender roles. One of the main areas of discrimination appears in the “tracking” system in secondary schools. Young men and women are asked to select the “literary” or “scientific” track: a selection usually driven by gender role expectations in the future. Most female students choose the literary track because they do not dare challenge traditional gender roles. Moreover, boys and girls are trained according to certain roles within the school curriculum, a phenomenon which has been criticized by many women activists.

The education and gender inequality experience helps me more to learn about women’s education. This education will feed into the economic and political empowerment of women and facilitate the development process in the ME. Therefore, I truly believe that education is a treasure. Without it, there is no hope and no brighter light that will emerge from within and spill over outward. Knowledge will only be achieved through education.


About BentRamallah

Writing is part of my resistance, Palestinian-Jordanian, working in humanitarian aid, refugee, social policy and protection. I love to cook, dance, hike, teach and practice yoga, and rescue animals.
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