More girls are accessing school, but are they learning? An exploratory study of the factors influencing girls’ mathematics achievement in Pakistan
More girls are accessing school, but are they learning?


Gender Equity
Girls Achievement
Sense of Belonging
Mathematics Education
Large-Scale Assessments
Quality Teaching


Although primary school enrollment in Pakistan has increased in the last two decades, schooling quality for girls and boys remains a central challenge. Furthermore, strides made toward gender parity are yet to address pervasive inequities in schooling outcomes. To provide insight on this matter, this paper interrogates girls' achievement in mathematics within the broader context of girls' access to quality schooling, asking: to what extent does gender influence mathematical achievement among grade four students in Pakistan? Building on Sen and Nussbaum’s 'capability approach' and 'freedom as development' frameworks, we explore the extent to which girls' educational achievement represents what Nussbaum defines as 'instrumental freedom.' We conducted an OLS regression to analyze Pakistan’s TIMSS 2019 data to examine the effect of gender on mathematical achievement. Results show that despite overall inequity in access to education for female students, girls outperform boys. However, while mathematics achievement might contribute to instrumental freedoms via the attainment of numeracy, discriminatory gender norms deny a vast majority of Pakistan's girls and young women the substantive freedoms central to their development. In Pakistan, the reality that young women are still 75 percent more likely to be disengaged from further education or employment presents a missed opportunity and significant cause for concern
More girls are accessing school, but are they learning?
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Copyright (c) 2023 Sumit Karn, Mia Chin, Vandita Churiwal, Chris J Henderson, Shreya Sanjeev