Sex discrimination in access to education: evaluation of the need for and effectiveness of current measures in the Member States

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1 Sex discrimination in access to education: evaluation of the need for and effectiveness of current measures in the Member States Order form No VC/2010/0242, Accounting N SI European Commission, Directorate-General Justice 17 December 2010

2 Sex discrimination in access to education: evaluation of the need for and effectiveness of current measures in the Member States Order form No VC/2010/0242, Accounting N SI European Commission, Directorate-General Justice A report submitted by GHK in association with FGB Date: 19 July 2011 Job Number J Authors: Katerina Mantouvalou, Inga Pavlovaite and Pat Irving GHK 30 St Paul's Square Birmingham B3 1QZ T +44 (0) FF +44 (0)

3 Document control Document Title Job number Prepared by Checked by Sex discrimination in access to education: evaluation of the need for and effectiveness of current measures in the Member States J Katerina Mantouvalou, Inga Pavlovaite and Pat Irving Checked by Dr Susanne Burri and Professor Donata Gottardi Date 19 July 2011

4 This report was commissioned by and prepared for the use of the European Commission, Directorate- General Justice. It does not necessarily represent the Commission's official position. This publication is commissioned by the European Union's Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity - PROGRESS ( ). This programme is managed by the Directorate-General Justice of the European Commission. It was established to financially support the implementation of the objectives of the European Union in the employment and social affairs area, as set out in the Social Agenda, and thereby contribute to the achievement of the Lisbon Strategy goals in these fields. The seven-year Programme targets all stakeholders who can help shape the development of appropriate and effective employment and social legislation and policies, across the EU-27, EFTA-EEA and EU candidate and precandidate countries. PROGRESS' mission is to strengthen the EU contribution in support of Member States' commitment. PROGRESS is instrumental in: Providing analysis and policy advice on PROGRESS policy areas; Monitoring and reporting on the implementation of EU legislation and policies in PROGRESS policy areas; Promoting policy transfer, learning and support among Member States on EU objectives and priorities; and Relaying the views of the stakeholders and society at large For more information see:

5 Contents List of abbreviations... Executive summary... i Key points of the final report... vii Note de synthèse... xi Points clés du rapport final... xviii 1 Introduction Introduction Background and rationale of the study Research aims, objectives and key research questions Definitions and scope of the study Outline of the research methodology Relationship between the logic model and the research questions Report structure Problem identification an analysis of identified problems and concerns at the Member State level Introduction Overview of key education indicators concerning access to compulsory education Nature of problems and concerns Scale and scope of problems and concerns The geography of discrimination in which Member States problems and concerns are evident Summary of findings European Union and national legislative background and context Introduction EU Framework for anti-discrimination Description of the legislative frameworks to assure equality of opportunity Relationship between existing legislative frameworks and problem identification Reasons underlying continuing or unaddressed discrimination in access to compulsory education Steps taken to eliminate continuing or unaddressed forms of discrimination in access to compulsory education Summary of findings The non-legislative measures and activities to ensure equality of opportunity in compulsory education Introduction Initiatives specifically targeted to eliminate sex discrimination in access to compulsory education Priorities of non-legislative initiatives in the area of gender equality in compulsory education Main national priorities on gender equality in education Relationship between the existing non-legislative measures and the problems identified Summary of findings Effectiveness of existing legislative and non-legislative measures Introduction The nature of the evidence base Assessment of the effectiveness of existing legislative and non-legislative measures... 74

6 5.4 Summary of findings Conclusions and recommendations Introduction Conclusions Recommendations... 84

7 List of abbreviations Sex discrimination in access to education: Final Report Austria Belgium Bulgaria Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden United Kingdom AT BE BG CY CZ DK EE FI FR DE EL HU IE IT LV LT LU MT NL PL PT RO SK SI ES SE UK

8 Executive summary Combating sex discrimination in the countries of the European Union (EU) is a long-standing policy commitment and is among the most significant expressions of the European social dimension. This demonstrates that throughout its history and development, the European Union has been about more than the creation of an internal market without barriers. Improving the quality of learning and providing greater opportunities for European citizens at all stages of their lives is one of the main operational objectives of EU actions in the field of education and training. 1 The rationale for this study is to enable the European Commission to better understand whether there are concerns/concrete discrimination problems in the Member States in relation to access to compulsory education. Purpose and scope The purpose of this study was therefore to understand, at the Member State (MS) level, the following: Current concerns about incidents of sex discrimination in access to education; Practical discrimination problems experienced in accessing compulsory primary and secondary education; and What measures, if any, and in what form, Member States have taken to tackle the identified problems. To facilitate the identification of possible concerns or concrete examples of discrimination, the research team sought evidence on incidents of discrimination, on the grounds of sex, corresponding to the following aspects of access to education: Denied access to certain schools; Denied access to certain courses and to certain educational activities for boys and girls (e.g. sport); Denied access to course materials on the grounds of sex; Insulting and degrading treatment in admission procedures. This study has been commissioned in the context of PROGRESS which is a financial programme for supporting the effective implementation of the policy goal of gender equality in all EU policies. PROGRESS was established in 2007 and will run until Research aims, objectives and key research questions The aim of this study was to provide the Commission with independent information on: The extent of sex discrimination 2 in accessing education in European Union Member States; Existing measures taken by Member States to tackle sex discrimination; and The need for and effectiveness of these measures. This study is expected to inform the Commission s work on new initiatives to prevent and combat sex discrimination in the field of education. The findings from the study will feed into the Commission's implementation report on the Directive 2004/113/EC. 3 Even though 1 See for example Articles 6 and 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, 2 In the course of this study we use the terms sex and gender interchangeably to refer both to biological and physiological characteristics and to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. 3 Directive 2004/113/EC on implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services. i

9 education does not fall under the scope of Directive 2004/113/EC, 4 access to education will be one of the issues covered in the Commission s report that will be submitted to the Council and the Parliament. In each Member State the following issues were considered: Whether problems currently exist, and if so the nature and the extent of the problems identified; Whether there are trends in the types of problems identified; The nature of the measures introduced to tackle identified problems and whether there is evidence of particularly effective legislative and non-legislative measures in tackling sex discrimination in access to education. Conclusions Extent of the problem of sex discrimination in access to education Sex discrimination in access to education appears to be a marginal issue in Europe. Analysis of key education indicators demonstrates a high level of gender parity regarding school enrolment rates and participation rates in primary and secondary education. While in a minority of Member States the percentage of female out of school children clearly exceeds that of their male counterparts, the EU-27 average for out of school children reflects the overall gender balance in the population. Gender inequalities persist, in particular male disadvantage, in the indicators of education outcomes (early school leavers and education attainment rates). Desk research and stakeholder interviews identified a total of 63 reported incidents of discrimination on the grounds of sex in access to education across Europe in the past five years ( ). Reported complaints have been categorised as follows: Denied access to schools: Fourteen incidents of direct discrimination; Eighteen incidents of indirect discrimination; and Three cases of incidents concerning positive action. Denied access to courses and educational activities: Twenty three incidents of direct discrimination; and Five incidents of indirect discrimination. No incidents were identified in the Member States relating to access to course material, insulting or degrading treatment in the admissions process or sexual harassment. Identified incidents of direct discrimination in access to school relate to: Male or female students being denied access to single-sex school for students of the opposite sex; A transgender student (a boy who became a girl) being denied access to the girl s section of a specialised school; and Male or female students being denied access to school because they did not comply with the school s dress code; Incidents of indirect discrimination in access to school primarily concern female religious minority students being denied access to school for wearing headscarves. According to interviewees, these incidents primarily have an ethnic or religious dimension rather than gender. Regarding complaints against positive action measures in accessing certain schools, the research team found examples of parents of male or female students who felt that their children were discriminated against because of positive action measures that were taken to ensure equal representation of the two sexes in school. 4 See Article 3(3) Dir 2004/113/EC. ii

10 As far as direct discrimination in access to courses and educational activities is concerned, identified incidents relate to: A transgender student being denied access to sport activity either as a male or female; Male or female students being automatically assigned to study certain courses based on gender-specific criteria without being informed of their right to choose other courses; and Sex segregated classes mainly in the areas of textiles, house-keeping and technology. Finally, identified incidents of indirect discrimination in access to courses and educational activities relate primarily to female ethnic minority students being denied access to courses or activities. In incidents reported to the authorities, female students, in particular those who were members of ethnic and religious minority groups, were more likely to be victims of discriminatory treatment than their male counterparts. Based on the assembled evidence in the majority of cases involving female students the decisions favoured the defendants rather than the complainants. The majority of the allegedly discriminatory incidents took place in public schools (i.e. state-funded schools). Regarding the level of education where incidents took place, most incidents occurred in secondary schools. In most Member States interviewees believed that sex discrimination in access to education was not an issue in their country. In several countries interviewees believed that the existence of legislation meant that citizens were aware of and hence exercised their rights. While of course, interviewees were invited to express their opinions, one might question whether all citizens are fully conversant with their rights and would exercise them if required, especially among vulnerable minority communities. Even though sex discrimination in access to education appears to be a marginal issue in Europe, gender inequalities persist in access to education, in its content and in educational outcomes: Roma girls, Muslim female students and Traveller boys are, more likely to be out of school than students from the majority population or other minority communities; Male students from low-income families were also found in some countries to be more likely to drop-out of school and get a full-time job than their female counterparts; Clear gender patterns exist in relation to subject choices students make as well as in the type of school (general or vocational) they attend; and Male and female students usually choose traditional gender career paths. Interviewees identified a number of different reasons why gender inequalities persist. Irrespective of male and female students being afforded the same rights in their access to education, notable gender differences, underpinned by cultural and socioeconomic factors play an important role in accessing education and the subject choices pupils make which can be supported by teachers, parents and students themselves. Roma students are a particular group that were more likely to be placed in segregated schools or to be out-of-school either through choice or by exclusion, as seen in the example of Roma girls being excluded following marriage. Finally, gender differences can also be linked with, but sometimes concealed by, considerations about social cohesion, stereotypical portrayal of some cultures as more oppressive for women than others and reproduction of traditional gender roles. Legislative measures to prohibit sex discrimination in access to education In considering legislative measures to prohibit sex discrimination in access to education, it is pertinent to acknowledge that education is a national competence of Member States, who retain full responsibility for the content of teaching and the organisation of education systems (Article 165 TFEU). At the national level, most EU Member States have constitutional guarantees and legislative provisions to prohibit sex discrimination in access to education. In the majority of countries prohibition of this form of discrimination is explicit in others it is implicit. Even in countries where sex discrimination in access to education is implicitly prohibited, stakeholder interviews confirmed that claimants can bring claims of sex discrimination in education. In several Member States exemptions to the application of the law exist and the nature of exemptions can influence rulings and decisions. For example in iii

11 an Irish case, a girl was denied access to a boys primary school and the Equality Tribunal found in favour of the defendant (the school) due to its status as a single sex educational establishment. The prohibition of multiple discrimination is not common in Member States legislation. Legislation prohibits discrimination based on more than one of the prohibited grounds in only five Member States. However, claimants can bring claims in court on the grounds of multiple discrimination. In the majority of the Member States, the implementation and application of antidiscrimination legislation in relation to sex discrimination in access to education is not directly or systematically monitored by a government department, ministry, independent organisation or civil society actors. Typically there are no data or studies available directly evaluating the effectiveness of legislative measures in this area, though with only 63 identified reported incidents, in 14 countries one might not expect Member States to implement systematic monitoring arrangements for, what is considered, a marginal issue. Ireland is one of the only countries within the EU that provides systematic information on incidents reported to the Equality Tribunal which includes data on sex discrimination in access to education. Though what is clear from the Irish case is that reference to sex discrimination in access to education in the legislative framework is implicit and the exemptions for single sex schools and religious institutions are important. Non-legislative measures to prohibit sex discrimination in access to education Both gender equality and gender mainstreaming in education appear to be high on the political agenda of most EU Member States. Gender equality policies exist in 22 out of the 27 Member States and gender mainstreaming features in education policy in almost all Member States. Partly because the European Union strongly supports gender mainstreaming 5 the latter is present at least in the policy rhetoric in all EU Member States. However, a limited number of Member States have introduced measures to address the issue of sex discrimination in access to education. The lack of non-legislative measures was attributed to sex discrimination in access to education not being (perceived as) a significant issue. Most identified relevant initiatives are small-scale local or regional projects rather than large national campaigns to promote equality and eliminate discrimination in access to education. Identified initiatives do not typically treat the issue of equal access to education in isolation. Non-legislative measures are generally embedded into the wider framework of mainstreaming gender issues into the practices and approaches in the education system and in addressing entrenched issues such as gender subject segregation or improving the behaviour of pupils. Taking into account the nature of the problem, the main weaknesses of non-legislative measures in EU Member States can be described as follows: Even though stakeholder interviews confirmed that in some Member States citizens lack knowledge and understanding of the current legal antidiscrimination framework, awareness raising campaigns do not adequately communicate the legislative framework and the available routes to redress these forms of discrimination to the wider public (students, parents, teachers and educational authorities more broadly). Initiatives to eliminate multiple discrimination are not always gender focused, even though there is evidence that there is a gender dimension to the problems members of vulnerable groups face in access to compulsory education (primarily Muslim girls, Traveller boys and Roma girls). 5 Article 8 TFEU reads that In all its activities, the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality, between men and women and gives the Community the task of integrating equality between men and women in all policy areas. iv

12 Sex discrimination in access to education: Final Report Initiatives that attempt to challenge gender-patterns in the selection of courses are not usually given adequate time to bring desired effects and are not adequately placed within the context of long-term policy priorities. Attitudes, mentalities, stereotypes and individual behaviour need to be changed but this is notoriously difficult to be achieved. Sufficient and robust monitoring and evaluation data are not available to demonstrate whether such measures introduced to affect change are effective or not. Non-legislative measures need to be better institutionalised and mainstreamed to have a lasting rather than cursory effect. For example, gender awareness in teacher training could be made mandatory, and not an optional element. Often, activities undertaken by NGOs are financed on a project basis, which makes consistent implementation a challenge. Short-term projects are unlikely to influence deeply engrained gender stereotypes. Recommendations Before moving onto the recommendations, there is merit in revisiting the main research hypotheses as follows: That individual rights to equality and non-discrimination, on the grounds of sex, are being infringed in their access to compulsory education; That legislation at the EU level is required to prevent or address sex discrimination in access to compulsory education. As indicated above, the research process allowed us to test the validity of these hypotheses and it appears that there is very limited scope for EU legislation primarily for the following four reasons: While there is evidence of sex discrimination in access to education it appears a marginal issue in Europe; Gender inequalities exist in education but these are primarily found in the content and in education outcomes where the Treaty rules out harmonisation of laws and regulation; In most cases gender differences in education do not account for state-sponsored discrimination. Interviewees identified cultural and socioeconomic factors as well as stereotypes as the main reasons why inequalities persist; At the national level, most EU Member States have constitutional guarantees and legislative provisions to prohibit sex discrimination in access to education. However, a number of differences were identified in the legislative provisions of EU Member States: In several Member States the legislative prohibition of gender-based discrimination is implicit not explicit and scattered among different legal instruments (constitutional provisions, general anti-discrimination legislation and education acts). In some countries the scope of application of the law might be limited and exemptions in the field of education are broad. National legislation does not adequately capture the problem of hidden discrimination, i.e. the cultural and socioeconomic obstacles that male and female students might fact to access education. Unreported discrimination exists irrespective of national legislation even though some key actors believe it is visible, well known and understood. Even though in principle Member States have mainstreamed gender in education, as it appears in policy documents in almost all Member States, policy documents are not always accompanied by concrete actions. Hence gender mainstreaming in education runs the risk of simply being statements of good intentions. However, as discussed above, the problem of sex discrimination in access to education in the European Union is not the lack of legislation but its enforcement. Taking the above into consideration the proposed recommendation for the Commission to promote a combination of gender mainstreaming initiatives in education and targeted gender equality measures concerning equal access for members of vulnerable groups (and strengthen such an approach where it already being applied). Such an approach would v

13 require the European Commission to support the application of the law and act to raise awareness of gender inequalities in access to education and help citizens understand and exercise their rights. In this effort, the Commission s role could be twofold: At a policy level, the Commission, for instance through the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) in education 6, can set the key priorities and ensure that the issue of gender equality in access to education receives appropriate attention at Member State level. This is particularly important in those member states, for example, where out of school rates are particularly skewed towards girls or boys The needs and vulnerabilities of members of minority groups need to be recognised in this area. Strategic priorities in the field of education will form the framework within which specific actions can be implemented. At the level of implementation, the Commission, in cooperation with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the recently operational European Institute for Gender Equality, can develop tools in the following areas, concerning access to, as well as the content of and outcomes from, education: To ensure gender mainstreaming in the field of education. To benchmark citizen s understanding of their rights and awareness of the processes through which complaints are made; To monitor progress; and To assess the impact of legislative and non-legislative measures. In addition, in cooperation again with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the European Institute for Gender Equality and the Member States in the framework of the OMC in education, the Commission could collect and disseminate good practice examples to promote gender equality in access to education as well as in the content and in educational outcomes. This will give the opportunity to Member States to learn from each other s experience and develop effective initiatives to eliminate discrimination in access to education. 6 An example is the recent focus on tackling early school leaving in Europe In June 2010 the European heads of state and government adopted the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Giving a strong message to Member States they decided that reducing the share of early school leavers to less than 10% Europe-wide by 2020 is one of the headline targets underpinning this strategy. In addition, the Member States agreed to set specific national targets. Early school leaving is a gender issue since boys are more likely than girls to leave school prematurely. To assist the member States the Commission has proposed in 2011 a draft Council Recommendation on policies to reduce early school leaving (COM (2011)19. vi

14 Key points of the final report This report is the Final Report for the study Lot N 3, VT/2010/05 Identification N 019, Sex Discrimination in access to education: evaluation of the need for and effectiveness of current measures in the Member States. The report is structured in line with the study s objectives, and explores: The extent of sex discrimination in accessing education in European Union Member States; Existing legislative and non-legislative measures taken by Member States to tackle sex discrimination in education; and The extent to which these measures are effective in tackling sex discrimination in access to education. The main findings and recommendations of the study are presented below. Main findings: Sex discrimination in access to education appears to be a marginal issue in Europe. Analysis of key education indicators demonstrates a high level of gender parity regarding school across most EU Member States regarding school enrolment rates and participation rates in primary and secondary education. Desk research and stakeholder interviews identified a total of 63 reported incidents of discrimination on the grounds of sex in access to education across Europe in the past five years ( ). In incidents reported to the authorities, female students, in particular those who were members of ethnic and religious minority groups, were more likely to be victims of discriminatory treatment than their male counterparts. Even though sex discrimination in access to education appears to be a marginal issue in Europe, gender inequalities persist in access to education, in its content and in educational outcomes. This is evident in the different educational choices male and female students make in the selection of courses and career paths. Gender differences can be linked with cultural, socioeconomic factors as well as reproduction of traditional gender stereotypes, and they are not related to state-sponsored discrimination. Most EU Member States have constitutional guarantees and legislative provisions to prohibit sex discrimination in access to education. Both gender equality and gender mainstreaming in education appear to be high on the political agenda of most EU Member States. Gender equality policies exist in 22 out of the 27 Member States and gender mainstreaming features in education policy in almost all Member States. Partly because the European Union strongly supports gender mainstreaming, the latter is present in polices, even if measures are not in place to support it. However, a limited number of Member States have introduced measures to address the issue of sex discrimination in access to education. The lack of non-legislative measures was attributed to sex discrimination in access to education not being (perceived as) a significant issue. Recommendations: It appears that there is very limited scope for EU legislation in relation to sex discrimination in access to education. The problem of sex discrimination in access to education in the European Union is a marginal issue which appears to be related mainly to the enforcement of existing legislation and the implementation of nonlegislative measures. Taking the above into consideration the proposed recommendation for the Commission to promote a combination of gender mainstreaming initiatives in education and targeted gender equality measures concerning equal access for members of vulnerable groups (and strengthen such approaches where they are already being applied). vii

15 Table 1: At a glance summary table Reported incidents of discrimination in access to education Legislation Policy initiatives Prohibition of sex discrimination in education Constitution 7 General antidiscrimination legislation 8 Education Acts 9 Exemptions from antidiscrimination legislation Specific measures to eliminate sex discrimination in access to education Austria 10 No No (explicit) Belgium 9 Federal level: (implicit) Federal level: No Flemish community: (implicit) French community: (explicit) Flemish community: (explicit) French community: (explicit) Bulgaria 1 (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) No Cyprus (implicit) (explicit) No No No 7 References to the constitutional protection of gender equality in education have been classified as follows: (i) Member States where the constitution has an explicit and direct reference to the protection of gender equality in education; (ii) Member States where the constitution has a reference to the right to (access) education for all citizens; and (iii) - Member States where the constitution does not make any reference to the right to (access) education. 8 References to education in general anti-discrimination legislation have been classified as follows: (i) Member States where the general anti-discrimination legislation has an explicit reference to education for example, there are laws where education is mentioned as one area where discrimination is prohibited and/or equal opportunities are promoted; (ii) Member States where the general anti-discrimination legislation has an implicit reference to education for example, there are laws which aim at enhancing equal opportunities and equal treatment in society as a whole, but they contain no explicit reference to education; and (iii) Member States where there is no explicit or implicit reference to education in the general anti-discrimination legislation. 9 References to the prohibition of sex discrimination in education acts have been classified as follows: (i) Member States where education acts have an explicit reference to the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex; (ii) Member States where education acts have an implicit reference to the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex for example, provisions such as requirement for equal treatment without an explicit reference to sex; and (iii) Member States where education acts do not contain any references to the prohibition of sex discrimination in the education system. viii

16 Reported incidents of discrimination in access to education Legislation Policy initiatives Prohibition of sex discrimination in education Constitution 7 General antidiscrimination legislation 8 Education Acts 9 Exemptions from antidiscrimination legislation Specific measures to eliminate sex discrimination in access to education Czech Republic (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) No No Denmark No (explicit) Public schools: (implicit) Private schools: (explicit) Estonia (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) No Finland 8 (implicit) (explicit) 10 (implicit) No France 6 (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) Germany 5 (explicit) (explicit) (explicit) No Greece (implicit) (explicit) (implicit) Hungary (implicit) (explicit) (implicit) No Ireland 5 (implicit) (explicit) (implicit) Italy (implicit) No (implicit) No No Latvia (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) No No Lithuania 3 No (explicit) (explicit) No Luxembourg (implicit) No (explicit) No No Malta 1 (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) No No 10 In Finland compulsory education is explicitly excluded in some articles of the general antidiscrimination legislation. ix

17 Reported incidents of discrimination in access to education Legislation Policy initiatives Prohibition of sex discrimination in education Constitution 7 General antidiscrimination legislation 8 Education Acts 9 Exemptions from antidiscrimination legislation Specific measures to eliminate sex discrimination in access to education Netherlands No (explicit) (implicit) No Poland (explicit) No (implicit) Portugal (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) Romania 3 (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) No Slovakia (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) No No Slovenia (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) No No Spain 5 11 (implicit) (explicit) (explicit) Sweden 1 (explicit) (explicit) (explicit) No No UK 6 No 12 (explicit) (explicit) Total 63 3 (explicit) 19 (implicit) 5 No 21 (explicit) 6 No (explicit) 14 8 (implicit) 1 No No No 11 In Spain five incidents of direct discrimination in access to education were identified. Three of them were classified as incidents of direct discrimination and two as incidents of indirect discrimination. Two of the three reported incidents of direct discrimination relate to a particularity of the country s legal system, i.e. in Spain all publicly funded schools must be co-educational under the current anti-discrimination legislation. Private schools are allowed to be single sex. Identified complaints related to the single-sex status of publicly funded schools in some regions of the country. 12 The UK does not have a written constitution. 13 Belgium s results were counted only once, at federal level. 14 Denmark s results were counted twice as different provisions apply to private and public education. x

18 Note de synthèse Depuis longtemps, la lutte contre la discrimination fondée sur le genre est un engagement politique fort au sein des Etats membres de l Union européenne (UE) et constitue l une des principales expressions de la dimension sociale européenne. Cela illustre le fait que tout au long de son histoire et de son développement, l Union européenne a été davantage que la création d un marché interne sans frontières. Améliorer la qualité de l enseignement et offrir aux citoyens européens de meilleures opportunités à toutes les étapes de leur vie est un des principaux objectifs opérationnels des actions de l UE dans le domaine de l éducation et de la formation 15. Cette étude vise à informer la Commission européenne sur les risques ou cas avérés de discrimination basée sur le genre dans le processus d accès à l enseignement obligatoire dans les Etats membres de l UE. Finalité et portée La finalité de cette étude était de comprendre, à l échelle nationale, les points suivants: les risques actuels liés à la discrimination fondée sur le sexe dans l accès l éducation; les cas avérés de discrimination concernant l accès à l enseignement primaire et secondaire; les mesures, s il en existe, prises par les Etats membres pour faire face aux problèmes identifiés et leur nature Pour faciliter l identification des risques ou des cas avérés de discrimination, l équipe de recherche a recueilli des informations sur des cas de discrimination fondée sur le sexe concernant les aspects suivants de l accès à l éducation: Refus de l accès à certaines écoles; Refus de l accès à certains cours et certaines activités éducatives (ex. sport); Refus de l accès à des matériels éducatifs; Traitement insultant et dégradant lors des procédures d admission. Cette étude a été commissionnée dans le cadre du programme PROGRESS, un instrument financier visant à soutenir la mise en œuvre efficace de l objectif politique que constitue l égalité femmes-hommes dans toutes les politiques de l UE. PROGRESS a vu le jour en 2007 et sera poursuivi jusqu en Finalités, objectifs et questions clés de la recherche Le but de cette étude est de fournir à la Commission des informations indépendantes sur: l ampleur de la discrimination fondée sur le sexe 16 dans l accès à l éducation à travers les Etats membres de l Union européenne; les mesures prises par les Etats membres pour combattre la discrimination fondée sur le sexe; la nécessité de ces mesures et leur efficacité. Cette étude doit contribuer aux travaux de la Commission sur de nouvelles initiatives visant à prévenir et à lutter contre la discrimination fondée sur le sexe dans le domaine de l éducation. Les résultats de cette étude informeront également le rapport de la Commission 15 Voir par exemple les articles 6 et 165 du Traité sur le fonctionnement de l Union européenne, 16 Dans le cadre de cette étude, les termes «sexe» et «genre» sont interchangeables et font référence aux caractéristiques biologiques et physiologiques des individus, ainsi qu aux constructions sociales des rôles, comportements, activités et attributs qu une société donnée juge appropriées pour les hommes et les femmes. xi

19 sur la mise en œuvre de la directive 2004/113/CE 17. Bien que l éducation ne relève pas du champ de la directive 2004/113/CE 18, l accès à l éducation sera un des aspects couverts par le rapport que la Commission soumettra au Conseil et au Parlement. Pour chaque Etat membre, les aspects suivants ont été explorés: l existence ou non de cas de discrimination, et s il en existe, leur nature et leur ampleur l existence ou non de traits communs dans les types de problèmes identifiés; la nature des mesures introduites pour résoudre les problèmes identifiés et l existence ou non de mesures législatives et non législatives particulièrement efficaces pour lutter contre la discrimination fondée sur le sexe dans l accès à l éducation. Conclusions Ampleur du problème de la discrimination fondée sur le sexe dans l accès à l éducation La discrimination basée sur le genre dans l accès à l éducation semble être une question marginale en Europe. L analyse des principaux indicateurs principaux dans le domaine de l éducation révèle un fort niveau de parité hommes-femmes dans les taux d inscription scolaire et les taux de participation à l enseignement primaire et secondaire. Alors que dans une minorité d Etats membres, le pourcentage de filles parmi les enfants non scolarisés est clairement plus élevé que celui des garçons, en moyenne la proportion d enfants non scolarisés dans l UE-27 reflète l équilibre entre les sexes dans la population. Les inégalités entre les hommes et les femmes persistent, notamment au détriment des hommes, au niveau des indicateurs des résultats atteints en matière d éducation (taux d échec scolaire et niveaux d éducation atteints). Sur le base de recherches documentaires et d entretiens, un total de 63 incidents signalés de discrimination fondée sur le sexe dans l accès à l éducation à travers l Europe au cours des cinq dernières années ( ) ont été identifiés. Les plaintes enregistrées ont été classées en différentes catégories: Refus de l accès à des écoles: quatorze incidents de discrimination directe; dix-huit incidents de discrimination indirecte; trois cas d incidents impliquant une action positive. Refus de l accès à des cours ou à des activités éducatives: vingt-trois incidents de discrimination directe; cinq incidents de discrimination indirecte. Aucun incident n a été identifié dans les Etats membres en ce qui concerne l accès à des matériels éducatifs, le traitement insultant et dégradant lors des procédures d admission ou le harcèlement sexuel. Les incidents identifiés de discrimination directe dans l accès à l école concernent: les élèves (des deux sexes) qui ne peuvent accéder à des écoles non mixtes réservées aux élèves du sexe opposé; un jeune transsexuel (une jeune fille née de sexe masculin) qui n a pu accéder à une section pour filles d une école spécialisée; des élèves (des deux sexes) qui n ont pu avoir accès à une école car ils ne respectaient pas le code vestimentaire de l école; Les incidents de discrimination indirecte dans l accès à l école concernent essentiellement des jeunes filles appartenant à des minorités religieuses qui n ont pu avoir accès à l école car elles portaient un foulard. Selon les personnes interrogées, ces incidents ont généralement une dimension plus ethnique ou religieuse que de genre. 17 Directive 2004/113/CE mettant en œuvre le principe de l égalité de traitement entre les hommes et les femmes dans l accès à des biens et services. 18 Voir l article 3(3), dir 2004/113/CE. xii

20 S agissant des plaintes contre les mesures d action positive dans l accès à certaines écoles, l équipe de recherche a identifié des exemples de parents d élèves (garçons ou filles) qui estimaient que leur enfant était victime de discrimination en raison de mesures d action positive prises pour assurer une représentation paritaire des deux sexes dans l école. En ce qui concerne la discrimination directe dans l accès à des cours et des activités éducatives, les incidents identifiés concernent: un élève transsexuel à qui l accès à une activité sportive a été refusé, aussi bien en tant que fille qu en tant que garçon; des élèves (des deux sexes) affectés automatiquement dans certains cours sur la base de critères liés spécifiquement à leur sexe sans qu ils soient informés de leurs droits de choisir d autres cours; des classes différenciées pour garçons et filles, principalement dans les domaines du textile, de l économie domestique et de la technologie. Enfin, les incidents identifiés relevant de la discrimination indirecte dans l accès à des cours et des activités éducatives concernent principalement les filles issues de minorités ethniques à qui est refusé l accès à certains cours ou activités. Dans les incidents signalés aux autorités, les jeunes filles, en particulier celles qui appartenaient à des minorités ethniques ou religieuses, avaient une plus forte probabilité d être victimes d un traitement discriminant que les jeunes hommes. Les preuves collectées montrent que dans la majorité des cas impliquant des élèves de sexe féminin les décisions ont donné raison aux accusés plutôt qu aux plaignants. La majorité des incidents prétendument discriminatoires ont eu lieu dans des établissements publics (financées par l Etat). En ce qui concerne le niveau d éducation où les incidents surviennent, il s agit dans la plupart des cas d écoles secondaires. Dans la plupart des Etats membres, les personnes interrogées considéraient que la discrimination fondée sur le sexe dans l accès à l éducation n était pas un problème dans leur pays. Dans plusieurs pays, les répondants ont estimé que du fait de l existence d une législation protectrice, les citoyens avaient conscience de leurs droits et donc pouvaient les exercer. Cependant, étant donne qu il ne s agit que d opinions exprimées a titre personnel, il est légitime de se demander si tous les citoyens ont bien connaissance de leurs droits dans les faits et les exerceraient le cas échéant, notamment en ce qui concerne les membres des minorités les plus vulnérables. Bien que la discrimination fondée sur le sexe dans l accès à l éducation semble être un problème marginal en Europe, les inégalités entre les hommes et les femmes persistent dans l accès à l éducation, dans son contenu et dans les niveaux d éducation atteints: les filles de religion musulmane et les filles et garçons des «gens du voyage» ont une plus forte probabilité de ne pas être scolarisés par rapport aux enfants d autres groupes de la population ou d autres minorités; les garçons venant de familles à faibles revenus ont également, dans quelques pays, une plus forte probabilité de se retrouver en situation d échec scolaire et d occuper un emploi à plein temps au lieu de poursuivre leurs études; il existe des schémas garçons-filles très marqués en ce qui concerne les options et matières choisis, ainsi que le type d école fréquentée (enseignement général ou professionnel); les élèves (des deux sexes) choisissent généralement des carrières ayant une connotation de genre traditionnelle. Les personnes interrogées ont identifié un certain nombre de raisons expliquant la persistance des inégalités de genre. Indépendamment du fait que garçons et filles aient les mêmes droits en termes d accès à l éducation, d importantes divergences reposant sur des facteurs culturels et socioéconomiques, jouent un rôle important en matière d accès à l éducation et de choix des sujets étudiés en fonction du genre. Ces différences peuvent être soutenues par les enseignants, les parents et les élèves eux-mêmes. Les élèves des gens du voyage constituent une catégorie particulière ayant une plus forte probabilité d être affectés dans des écoles séparées et/ou de ne fréquenter aucune école, soit par choix, soit xiii

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