Solving the Equation

Helping girls and boys learn mathematics

A young girl with her family in Kuto Ambe in Ethiopia


We are in a learning crisis: more than half of the world’s 10-year-olds cannot read a simple text, and COVID-19 will likely further deepen this crisis. The situation is similarly dire when it comes to mathematics, the other knowledge domain singled out, alongside reading, for global monitoring by the Sustainable Development Goals. Girls worldwide are lagging behind boys in mathematics, with sexism and gender stereotypes among the root causes. This report features new data analyses covering more than 100 countries and territories. It finds that boys have up to 1.3 times the odds of obtaining mathematics skills compared to girls. Gender stereotypes regarding girls’ innate inability to understand mathematics held by teachers, parents and peers are contributing to the disparity. Negative stereotypes play out in girls’ self-confidence, setting them up for failure. The RAPID approach can help us recover from the crisis and pivot to a transformation of education.

A little girl solving a mathematics equation on mathematics
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