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Issues in Educational Research, 2021, Vol 31(4), 1312-1329.
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Mapping the emergence of a gender gap in English in Rwandan primary and secondary schools

Alphonse Uworwabayeho
University of Rwanda, Rwanda

Lizzi O. Milligan
University of Bath, UK

Kuchah Kuchah
University of Leeds, UK

There is very limited evidence globally of the impact that learning in an unfamiliar language has on girls' educational outcomes. In Rwanda, children learn in English medium instruction (EMI) classrooms throughout the basic education cycle, with a recent policy change removing Kinyarwanda as the medium of instruction for the first three years. This paper maps the trends between girls' results in English examinations, their wider educational metrics and the rurality, poverty and gender bias of the district where they live. Results suggest that English results at the primary level cluster around a low pass for boys and girls. However, gender differences become apparent by the secondary 3 English examinations where boys are outperforming girls in every district. Gender differences cannot be explained in our analysis by how rural, poor or gender biased the district is. Our conclusions suggest the importance of going beyond linear assumptions between rurality, poverty, gender bias and girls' performance and we suggest further, in-depth, research of classroom dynamics, English development and out-of-school factors to explore how learning in English is particularly affecting girls.
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Authors: Alphonse Uworwabayeho PhD (corresponding author) is a Senior Lecturer in the College of Education, University of Rwanda in Rwanda. His research interests focus on mathematics education and the policies, pedagogies and materials that support teaching and learning in mathematics. He is a co-investigator for the study reported in this paper - the UK Economic and Social Research Council research project: Exploring the opportunities for learning justice: a case study of girls' educational experiences in English medium Rwandan basic education.
Email: rwabayeho@yahoo.fr

Lizzi O. Milligan PhD is a Reader in the Department of Education at the University of Bath, UK. Her research and teaching explore issues of social and epistemic justice for children in schools in the Global South, with a particular interest in the impact of English medium instruction. She is the principal investigator for the project reported in this paper.
Email: emam25@bath.ac.uk

Kuchah Kuchah PhD is a Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Leeds, UK. His research examines the policy and practice of young learner English language education in multilingual contexts. He is a co-investigator for the project reported in this paper.
Email: h.k.kuchah@leeds.ac.uk

Please cite as: Uworwabayeho, A., Milligan, L. O. & Kuchah, K. (2021). Mapping the emergence of a gender gap in English in Rwandan primary and secondary schools. Issues in Educational Research, 31(4), 1312-1329. http://www.iier.org.au/iier31/uworwabayeho.pdf

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Created 15 December 2021. Last correction: 15 December 2021. Website: Roger Atkinson [rjatkinson@bigpond.com]