e4e Week 2

Quality education for gender equality

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Discussion April 19th – 23rd
Keynote 19 April 2010, 7.30am UTC
View Keynote Recording
Moderators Sheila Aikman and Anita Rampal


Understanding gender relations and the experiences and needs of the poorest boys and girls are all important areas of policy and practice. The forms of political and economic power in a society might mean that these particular areas of policy and practice are neglected in a general focus on national achievements or enrolling more girls. The challenge remains to understand the complexity of gendered power in local settings and the educational conditions that can support change and provide quality schooling. Work such as gender budgeting can ensure that budgetary support adequately reaches the lowest quintiles, or privileges the gender equality aspects of quality. The exercise of hierarchies of power is particularly acute in relation to the provision of quality education.


Discussion papers

  Lang Title Authors
  EN Quality Education for Gender Equality: Introductory Notes for Week 2 Sheila Aikman with Nitya Rao
1. EN The Power to Lead Alliance – Empowering Girls to Learn and Lead in Malawi Stephanie Baric, Norman Tembo
2. EN “Opening the Mind”: The Kibera Girls Soccer Academy and a New Paradigm for Overcoming Inequalities Jamie Clearfield, Abdul Kassim, Ryan Sarafolean, Richard Teka
3. EN Concretising empowerment through school profiles: lessons from Nigeria and Tanzania Joanne Rachel Heslop, Ruth Audu, Dunstan Kishekya
4. EN Inspiring Girls, Transforming the World (slide presentation) Jin In
5. FR Focus sur une éducation de qualité pour la réussite des filles à l’école Aminata Ndiaye
6. EN Empowering the Girl Child: A Review of Scholarship Programmes Victoire Ngounoue
7. EN Towards Gender Equitable Education: Challenges and opportunities in Secondary Schooling in India Shobhita Rajagopal
8. EN Creating Strategic Alliances: Generating Mutually Beneficial Outcomes for Education and Business Melissa A Witthoft

Dakar Abstracts

The following abstracts report on papers to be presented in Dakar from 17-20 May 2010:

  Lang Title Authors
1. EN Transformation of Education Systems to Address Gender Based Disparities of the Education System in Northern Nigeria Alice Akunga, Ian Attfield
2. EN Working in Partnership to address gender inequality in education: 
Lessons from VSO Ghana and VSO Ethiopia
Dora Amoah‐Bentil, Wendwossen Kebede, Polly Kirby, Purna Shrestha
3. EN Teacher Training: The Superhighway to Gender Equity in Senegal Yanick Douyon, Kether R. Hayden, Bridget A. McElroy
4. EN Gender Equality in Timor-Leste, equal opportunities in a post-conflict situation Muriel Lauvige
5. EN Gender Equality in Rural Education: Women’s Global Education Project Amy Maglio, Adji Senghor, Aniceta Kiriga

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27 Responses to “e4e Week 2”

  1. It's great E4 is acknowledging the power structures at play in discussions about gender and education. Since it advocates a joined-up approach involving civil society as well as state and multilateral actors, it would be great if the E4 intiative linked up with the World Social Forum. In fact the WSF will be in Dakar in January 2011….the ideas raised at E4 could be supported and built upon by the WSF if the two organisations can get together…

  2. Kanwal Ahluwalia says:

    Following on from my comment above (which was too long!!) – Plan International's School Improvement Programme (SIP) adopts a 8 point integrated strategy which integrates gender equality by supporting the following: (1) gender aware and gender sensitive teachers; (2) teaching activities, methodologies and styles that are accessible to both girls and boys and do not reinforce negative stereotyping; (3) ensure girls and mothers have equal opportunities to participate in school governance; (4) girls' rights, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is built into the curriculum; (5) gender sensitisation within families and communities of girl students; (6) buy-in from school leadership for gender responsive curricula, content and delivery; non-gender biased recogntion and promotion of teachers; gender responsive school environment and compliance and (7) allocated % of resources for gender related activities

  3. Kanwal Ahluwalia says:

    I think a lot of what has been said here is what we, as development practioners, already know – that there is no silver bullet and that no particular aspect of quality education can be sustained without a broader analysis of gender discrimination at play and how to challenge this. The way to ensure quality education for girls (as well as boys) has to be working in a holistic and integrated way – ensuring that work is being done with care givers and parents of girls as well as wider community members, particularly power brokers, to tackle the underlying gender discrimination which keeps girls' education under-valued; with management structures within schools themselves to ensure that teaching (boy both male and female teachers) doesn't pander to gender stereo-types and with local and national government to ensure appropriate curricula, services, adequate resourcing and wider committments at the national level to girls' rights and gender equality are implemented/up-held. Crucial to all of this is (as Joshua has mentioned) is a more meaningful engagement of girls themselves to identify their needs, voice and choices in relation to education provision.

  4. abbé Ambroise Tine says:

    - les travaux domestiques pour soutenir la maman très souvent analphabète et donc, pas consciente de l'importance et de la nécessité de faire les devoirs à la maison et d'apprendre les leçons, obligent beaucoup de filles à se retrouver avec de mauvaises notes lors des évaluations et, à court et moyen termes à abandonner l'école;l
    Le poids de certaines traditions culturelles et religieuses, obscurantistes continuent à peser sur certaines filles qui n'ont pas de chances énormes pour avoir accès à un système éducatif de qualité
    Le non accès à une éducation scolaire de qualité est un manque de respect pour les droits et la dignité de la fille et constiue une injustice sociale à vaincre dans le cadre de la lutte pour aider les femmes à assumer pleinement leurs responsabilités dans la société.

  5. Abbé Ambroise says:

    - l'accès à une nourriture équilibrée durant la pause déjeuner (beaucoup d'élèves sont privés de repas midi compte tenu de l'éloignement de leur famille et, à force de souffrir de faim en milieu scolaire, finissent par abandonner l'école là où il n'y a pas du tout de cantine scolaire);

  6. Abbé Ambroise Tine says:

    Cependant il y a des préalables à ne pas occulter et que je juge incontournables.
    - l'accès physique à un établissement scolaire ( la distance à parcourir cosntitue souvent un obstacle majeur pour les jeunes filles);
    - l'accès au matériel pédagogique ( beaucoup d'élèves dans les pays du Sud sont obligés de partager un livre à deux ou trois personnes);

  7. La qualité de l'éducation scolaire est déterminante pour l'épanouissement de la jeune fille, son maintien à l'école, sa libération des injustices sociales, sa participation citoyenne à la vie de sa nation.

  8. Sheila says:

    I wonder if anyone has worked with the idea of mentoring with teachers to help explore ideas and new practices for gender equality. While mentoring may be something that is used informall, I wonder if there are any examples of more formal approaches (that is a mentoring programme focusing on gendered issues with teachers)? The Commonwealth Education Fund in Kenya, Mozambique and Ghana did some work on this (www.commonwealtheducationfund.org) but I 'd be really interested to hear if there is any other experienes that could be shared.

  9. You could team a cultural group with a US group through an online curriculum— where the US teacher becomes the facilitator and moderator of the session. (provided the children understand english if not there would have to be an interpreter in that language) It could be shared through internet access — and skype –lets say projected on a large wall or sheet so many children could participate at once. If you would like further explore developing such a program please contact me. geocolors@gmail.com

  10. The examples are inspiring but I have a practice question about implementation — many countries are cutting the length (and thus content) of teacher training programmes and we are seeing more and more teachers being hired who are volunteers or who have little or no formal training.

    How do you try to ensure critical issues of gender are integrated in TT curriculum and only offered as a module when possible?

    • Sheila says:

      This is a key issue – about how to influence the TT curriculum. It raises questions too about the pedagogy in the TT – the nature of the teaching and learning relationships and the extent to which the training is based on promoting the development of individuals' capabilities, and especially those of female trainees. Are they perceived of as responsible, engaged adults – or is teacher training an extension of schooling where pedagogy may be passive, authoritarian and hierarchical?

      What examples are there of a more transformative TT?

  11. I would say that familiarising teachers with gender responsive teaching methodologies is a key to this. This is best done in pre-service training. In Malawi, the child friendly schools concept has been introduced in all schools and already there are some positive changes being seen. For instance: in most schools there are no desks and this has been a barrier to effective participation in class as often pupils are required to stand up when responding to a question. Now most teachers do not require girls to stand up but boys can stand. In other cases, where there are inadequate sanitary facilities, a fact which has been negatively affecting adolescent girls, teachers have mobilised the community through the school management commitees to construct changing rooms and toilets. So pre-service training plays a critical role in how teachers promote girls education

  12. NNENNA ELUWA says:

    Quality education includes equipping the girl child to be a better mother , a better human being and an asset to the society. When the educated girls have done well as mothers and as citizens, it will pave the way for more girls to be educated. Mothers of girl children have to be educated in issues as gender role typing, encouraging the girl child to take on challenges etc. We run courses for PTA mothers on effective motherhood and the children of the mothers who attend the classes are doing much better than the children of the mothers who do not attend the classes. Apart from reading and writing Quality education for a girl child means being able to meet her needs and rights within her own environment. We have just finished a youth challenge camp project and many of the youths 9yrs. – 21 yrs. who were able to climb the rocks and assail from them without exhibiting fear were the girls. in a different village setting they would not have been able to do this. they would have considered public opinion etc. It took a lot of mother and father education and confidence building for the parents to pay for and allow their girl child attend the camp. The change it has made in the lives of the girls is tremendous. The more girls that are empowered with the yes I can quality type of education the closer we will be to gender equality. You may wish to note that the boy led team won the cooking competition and the cultural display at the camp while the girl led team won the essay competition. When gender stereotyping is removed from the every day conversation of the girl child we will be surprised at what the girl can achieve.

    Nnenna Eluwa
    Executive Director
    First Lady's Save Our Youths Campaign,
    P.O.Box 2811 Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria .

  13. Tim says:

    Gender inequalities experienced in the school as symptomatic of wider societal inequalities
    6. What examples are there of transformative teachers and transformative training?

    • cchindime says:

      Inclusion of Child Friendly Schools Concept in pre-service training as is being done in Malawi, is vital as this embraces all aspects on how the school can be child seeking with the teaacher playing a central role. Once teachers are familiar with the CFS, they find creative ways of ensuring that girls are retained in the schoo, system despite the numerous challenges that most schools are facing. For instance: in schools where there are inadequate facilities such as toilets, teachers can mobilise the community to construct toilets for girls and changing rooms. This is usually not something that teachers feel that is their role but because in CFS there is an element of community involvement in child learning, teachers are taking the initiative to involve parents in their children's welfare at the school

  14. Tim says:

    Gender inequalities experienced in the school as symptomatic of wider societal inequalities
    5. What kind of training do they or should they get?

    • The keynote address highlighted the ways that schools and classrooms do not exist in a social vacuum, but are embedded in wider enviornments of social and gender relations and hisotrical contexts. Therefore, teachers play a pivotal role in addressing the gender dynamics that play out, and can be replicated within educational settings. Teacher training is an important strategy in this regard. Pre-service teacher training offers a great opportunity and space to influence the attitudes, values and skills of prospective teachers, and should focus on training in gender awareness, inclusive pedagogical approaches, safe learning enviornments, and challenging gender stereotypes and bias in curiculum. This is also a critical opportunity to introduce teachers to an gender Code of Conduct or policy, should it exist!

      • I’m inspired by the optimism and the concrete ideas. I actually put less faith in teacher training on gender, and especially pre-service. Surely teachers need to be reminded that girls are different than boys in the classroom and that it is critical to ensure that girls have equal opportunities to participate and succeed; and that such equality sometimes requires “unequal,” i.e., different, treatment. However, I am struck by what seems to be an increasing phenomenon, at least here in Morocco, but I believe around the globe, of girls’ outperforming their male counterparts when, indeed, they have access to truly “quality” education. One might surmise, and some researchers contend, that conventional classroom pedagogy indeed favors girls’ learning style and demeanor.

        The real challenges, as many have noted, are what happens outside the classroom and how the local community perceives the role of girls and the value of their receiving a school-based education (as opposed to a home and community education). I’m glad someone mentioned latrines. Absolutely critical! And distance, and security and home chores, and the rest. My contention, and experience, is that when the community is convinced that their girls need schooling, and when they determine themselves what is required to support their daughters’ success at school, and when they can communicate these expectations to the school, change will occur. It’s not rocket science. When you a teacher receives and accepts the message that their girl students must succeed as well as the boys, they will figure out and act appropriately fairly quickly. Help will be useful, of course, but I really see it mostly as a matter of expectations.

        Just one illustrative anecdote. My first visit to a middle school in El Hajeb where we had installed a computer lab found no girls at a keyboard. Indeed, none were present at all in this demonstration class that the school had set up to “show off” their use of the new lab to me, the project director. I commented, and the school director explained that the only space in the curriculum available to ICT training was during the Technology class. Since this class included only boys (the girls were in Home Economics), no girls were learning to operate the computer. I told him plainly, but politely, that this was unacceptable; that they should find another arrangement. There was no direct follow-up on my behalf, but when I returned to the same school a year later, the Director rushed me up to the lab to show that there were as many girls as boys and indicated further that girls were among the best students there. I had forgotten about this, but it clearly had an impact and having adopted this expectation, the Director and the teachers responded enthusiastically and effectively.

        Teachers know. They just either don’t care (because schooling for girls is not valued), or they’re not paying attention (because no one else is pushing them). Yes, there are strategies to help, but the main thing is to be clear that schooling matters also for girls and to create the conditions for better education for all.

        That’s my two cents.

  15. Tim says:

    Gender inequalities experienced in the school as symptomatic of wider societal inequalities
    4. How do teachers see their role in terms of promoting gender equality?

    • Alphonsine Bouya says:

      Le rôle de l'enseignant ne devrait pas se limiter à la simple et mécanique dispensation des leçons dans le but tout aussi simple de couvrir un programme. Le rôle de l'enseignant est celui de former un être humain et par là de transformer la société (formation, trans-formation). D'où la nécessité d'une revalorisation de la profession enseignante (pas seulement dans les pays en développement mais partout dans le monde) afin que les enseigants retrouvent leur place de formateurs des consciences et de transformeurs sociaux. Ainsi, conscients eux-mêmes des inégalités de genre et de leur rôle, ils pourront, aidés par les outils mis à leur disposition, contribuer à la promotion de l'égalité des genres et à la transformation lente certes mais irreversible de la société.

  16. Tim says:

    Understanding gendered issues and the problems in the classroom
    3. What new methods and approaches are proving useful?

    • This isn't a 'new' method, but still an important one…ensuring gender parity in female teachers can have a positive impact on girls' encrolment, retention and on their achievement and overall outcomes from schooling. Girl-friendly education systems means recruiting female staff (teachers, teaching assistants and complementary staff). A female role model can be an important source of guidance and information for girls (including on sexual and reproductive health); can act as advocates for girls; can promote more girl-friendly learning facilities; are are examples of gender role models which, in some contexts, can socialize both girls and boys beyond existing gender stereotypes! However, research shows that assumptions cannot be made that women are necessarily always supportive of girls in schools or will make the school any more girl-friendly. Therefore teacher training on gender equality is necessary for both male and female teaching staff. This will enable all teachers to support and encourage female students, and to promote gender equality in schools.

      • Ishrat Khan Barsha says:

        There is nothing new, I agree with the previous writer. To me, one of the important way would be to train teachers on these issues. There we need to have a regular monitoring system. Both teacher and Children should be aware about gender parity and euality through the lens of Rights Respecting SChools, that what ActionAid is talking about. In Bangladesh, Education Ministry is trying to jointly work with Ministry of Women & Children Affairs to include sexual harrasement in the national text book. Consciousness raising among girls also boys and their surrounding family members, community people through advocacy, media mobilization would help expedite this process.

  17. Tim says:

    Understanding gendered issues and the problems in the classroom
    2. What methods are helpful in overcoming different perceptions about what the problems are for girls?

    • The first step in ‘overcoming different perceptions’ about the issues girls face in the classroom is recognizing girls are a unique cohort that face different vulnerabilities than boys. This might seem obvious in the context of this discussion, but the fact is most national education programs still lump girls and boys together under the category of ‘children’. This obscures the unique needs of girls, and adolescent girls in particular. Recognizing the increased discrimination that adolescent girls face at the onset of puberty both in the community and in schools is critical in increasing girls school attendance. Girls can be encouraged to keep attending school if the curriculum and the environment caters to their needs, does not make them feel inferior to boys and allows them to participate. For instance recognizing that for adolescent girls who become pregnant, the school environment becomes an unforgiving place. In Ghana, pregnancy accounted for 70 per cent of junior secondary school dropouts between 1997 and 2002. For young mothers, the lack of day care and other facilities in schools effectively ends their school career.

  18. Tim says:

    Understanding gendered issues and the problems in the classroom:
    1. In what different ways do policy makers, teachers and learners link quality education with gender equality?

    • For me, one key question is who is “we?” You and my understanding is welcome, but the “we” that must understand in order to intervene for real change is the local community – parents, leaders, the kids themselves,… – and the teachers and others in the school. I also contend that it is of less use for us to understand and then “explain to” or “convince” them of why they don’t send their girls to school, why they need to and what they need to do in order to achieve this. I recollect one visit I made to a remote village in southern Mali, where the village leaders convened at least 100 folks to talk to me about schooling. I asked if they felt it was important to send their daughters to school. The reply was almost unanimously affirmative. “Wow! Why?” The response they offered was articulate, clear and thorough. It seemed as if could have been scripted from a radio social marketing campaign… which was precisely my suspicion. So I pressed them harder, expressing my surprise, especially given all the “good” reasons I could imagine for not sending their daughters to school. They quickly capitulated, admitting that, indeed, their daughters were not as present at school as their sons. The parents were not responding to the girls’ schooling campaign and mandate, so why should the teachers? Or how could the teachers, when the girls were so handicapped by their home chores, low expectations and other obstacles?

      I wrote last week about the experience I had in Benin, where the “we” who assessed the situation of girls’ schooling WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THEIR OWN COMMUNITY AND OF THEIR OWN EXPECTATIONS AND ASPIRATIONS FOR THEIR DAUGHTERS and who decided how to act were the parents themselves. Surely we want to “understand,” to conduct research and provide guidance on creating the most favorable conditions for girls’ school (and future) success, and for boys’, as the conditions really differ in few ways. But if we expect to see progress on the ground, at the school and community level, we need to shed the hegemony of academic and outside actors’ “understanding” and foster processes that generate homespun understanding in each and every community. Social marketing might by useful, but only to grease the skids. The real work of pushing the skids is slow, laborious and must be local.

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