Boys' Underachievement in Education: A Review of the Literature with a focus on Reading in the Early Years

Noticing a pattern of consistent underperformance of boys in reading in many of the EGRA studies that implemented across the world over the past 4 years, USAID commissioned this literature review to understand the reasons behind this trend, especially in countries underrepresented by the research. This report, based on an extensive review of literature, attempts to summarize the factors that explain boys’ underachievement, especially in the context of reading in the early years. It also summarizes interventions undertaken at teacher, school, school-system, community, and policy levels to address this phenomenon. The report is divided into four major sections. Having established in this first section that a gap indeed exists and that there are several key areas of discourse that explain the trends, Section 2 discusses the factors influencing boys’ underachievement in more detail. Section 3 documents and analyzes the interventions that have attempted to address boys’ underperformance and the contributing factors. The final section summarizes and concludes with recommendations for action.