Girls’ education and technology: Myths and facts

By Luke Stannard, Education Consultant and Researcher, Save the Children

Zaynab likes using the new computers at her school, but her friends don’t think it’s for them. The adults encourage her to play with her friends and leave the technology to the boys. The boys run around with the new iPads, followed by the worried looking teacher. Zaynab goes back to her painting. She’s painting a picture of a video game she’s designed.

The enemy of myth is often the evidence. Save the Children works to ensure children displaced by conflict or caught up in humanitarian crises secure access to quality learning opportunities. Increasingly Educational Technology (EdTech) has been proposed as a potential solution to solve the ‘learning crisis’ in humanitarian contexts. (Read the report here.)

With a growing desire to address this learning crisis, researchers at Save the Children UK have reviewed over 130 academic papers in an attempt to evaluate ‘what works’ with EdTech in displacement or ‘emergency’ settings as a potential solution to address the growing ‘learning’ problem.

In this process, we found no evidence to suggest that boys are better at technology than girls. It’s a myth. Technology is a part of all of our worlds now, and a bigger part of the future. However, what the evidence shows is that in some circumstances girls are less likely to get access to technology than boys. Indeed, this is true of all education, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

This poses a big question for all of us interested in quality, engaging education, and gender equality. Before we have equality with EdTech, we must have equity of access. EdTech is a great tool that children love using, and research shows that it can definitely improve learning outcomes if we use it carefully.

We all know that there is more to education than grades. EdTech can be a tool to spark the imagination and build a desire to learn. If we use it carefully, we can change how education is engaged with, and collectively be better for it. What we need to be conscious of though, is how we get everyone’s hands on it!

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organizations highlighted.

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