Teacher training: the superhighway to Gender Equity in Senegal
|Bridget McElroy, Kether Hayden, Yanick Douyon||Open call||Quality||en|
Aim of research
Allotting adequate financial, logistical and human resources for appropriate gender sensitive trainings is a challenge in developed and emerging nations. While Senegal has made a commitment to move toward gender equity in education, major obstacles remain on the road to its fulfillment. Teachers must be equipped with the necessary gender awareness to assure the rights of girls to a quality education and to precipitate an environment where women can realize their legal, political, and civil rights. The authors attempt to examine: how well do state-led teacher-training efforts promote gender equity in the classroom?
The aim of this paper is to stimulate reflection on how teacher-training may encourage attitudinal and behavioral change in Senegal. The authors hope to lead UNGEI E4 participants to dialogue on the realities and challenges of training implementation and the pertinence of this work to other areas of the world.
EFA goal posts have caused the school enrollment in Senegal to swell. A deficit in the number of teachers led to the lowering of standards for recruiting teachers. New teachers often have little or no pre-service training, which has a direct influence on the quality of teaching in the classroom.
Senegal established the Pôles Régional de Formation (PRF) in which experienced
teachers in all secondary school subjects, Conseillers Pédagogique Itinérant (CPI), are appointed as pedagogical advisors to in-service teachers. The CPIs are expected to train all the newly recruited in-service teachers; a challenging task threatened by inadequate resources permitting them to only do a fraction of their workload. Beginning with the 2010 – 2011 school year the PRFs will move into a new ministry structure and the CPIs will have a different role. This is a unique moment for Senegal to
assure gender awareness training gets integrated into teacher-trainings and to move Senegal
on the super highway to gender equity.
Under the umbrella of Senegal’s Ministry of Education regional offices and the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH), the authors of this paper present their experiences as American volunteer educators collaborating with Senegalese teacher-trainers in three different regions. The authors quickly became aware of an absence of gender-equity dialogue when providing technical assistance to the PRFs and developing interdisciplinary workshops— which was the impetus for this research.
Throughout the current academic year the authors collected data using qualitative research methods including: analysis of national and regional policy documents; participatory observation as integrated members of Ministry teacher-training teams in three regions; and informal interviews with education officials in order to identify the local projects incorporating and promoting gender awareness among the teaching workforce. Potential bias as American female researchers was taken into consideration. Research notes from observations were exchanged among the American researchers and individual
interpretation was examined for bias. Additionally, the researchers solicited feedback from the local teacher-trainers to help mediate cultural misinterpretation. Finally, the triangulation of methods was employed (participant observation, interviews and policy document analysis) to decrease the chances of bias and misinterpretation.
Budgetary constraints and infrequent access to reliable transportation limit teacher training efforts at each PRF and thus limited the activities authors were able to participate in. Nonetheless, the authors took part in numerous trainings and various pedagogical preparations (ie. creating teacher-training manuals). Questionnaires would have assisted in the evaluation of local teachers’ familiarity with gender-equity issues. Further exploration of non-state actors’ roles in professional development activities would also have provided perspective on how collaborative efforts could occur between state and non-state actors. Authors had time and resource constraints that limited their research scope and methods.
Logistical, budgetary, and organizational challenges and a general misunderstanding of what constitutes gender equity leads to a disconnect between policy documents and classroom realities. Both unconscious and conscious behavior among educational leaders weakens the promotion of gender equity in the school system.
A general cultural reluctance of many women to be full participants during teacher trainings and of men to accept and advocate for evolving roles of women and girls in the classroom and education system was observed.
Awareness initiatives from the offices in charge of education of girls are aimed at reaching a wide audience. While there are some gender trainings for administrators at the regional level, the information distributed to them is rarely disseminated to teachers and educators in direct contact with students.
If left unaddressed, the absence of appropriate pedagogical training for in-service teachers and administration will continue to limit the delivery of quality education in Senegal.
 Association for Women’s Rights in Development [AWID] (2001). International trends in gender equality work (Occasional Paper No. 1). The Hague: Kerr, J. The Center for Global Development. (2009). Moving Beyond Gender as Usual. Washington, DC: Ashburn, K., Oomman, K., Wendt, D., & Rosenzweig, S.
 UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (2006). Teachers and Educational Quality: Monitoring Global Need for 2015. Retrieved from www.uis.unesco.org/TEMPLATE/pdf/Teachers2006/TeachersReport.pdf.