Increasing teachers’ gender awareness
Examples from policy and practice in three countries
Getting more girls into school will not make a difference in girls’ learning outcomes if teachers continue to perpetuate stereotypes and discrimination within the classroom. Learn about how three countries—Chile, Viet Nam, and Ghana—are working to improve teachers’ gender awareness through policy and teacher training initiatives.
The 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report’s Gender Review highlights the importance of teacher attitudes in perpetuating or breaking down the gender inequalities that affect how and what students learn. Calling for “good quality pre-service and in-service gender-sensitive training”, the review emphasizes that teachers should “query their own gender-related attitudes, perceptions and expectations of children, and learn ways to diversify their teaching and assessment styles.”
There are some useful international resources on this topic, such as UNESCO’s Guide for Gender Equality in Teacher Education Policy and Practices. The guide addresses the mainstreaming of gender awareness and gender equality through all aspects of an education system—policies, institutional culture, curriculum, teacher training, research, and monitoring and evaluation systems. While this general guidance is important, it is equally crucial to understand how specific countries have addressed the issue within their own particular contexts. This brief highlights the efforts of three countries in three distinct parts of the world—Chile, Viet Nam, and Ghana—to increase teachers’ gender awareness in order to carry the principle of gender equality into the classroom.
In Chile, gender equality has been at the top of the policy agenda since the beginning of Michelle Bachelet's second presidential period (2014 – 2018). Several reforms have been undertaken to mainstream gender equality across governmental institutions, including the opening of a Gender Equality Unit within each government Ministry. The Unit at the Ministry of Education is in charge of the campaign Eduquemos con Igualdad (Educate with Equality), which has been disseminated using audio-visual materials available on social media, and through pedagogical resources available on the Ministry of Education's website.
In addition, Chile’s Centre for Pedagogical Training, Experimentation, and Research (CPEIP) offers a number of free online professional development courses for teachers related to gender awareness, with titles such as “Orientations for promoting an inclusive school”, “Man = Woman… but what about in the classroom?”, and “Let’s talk about sexuality: promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the classroom”. Chile also plays a leadership role in the wider region on the issue of gender equality in education through the Santiago-based UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, which recently launched a gender report discussing data from the regional learning assessment TERCE and hosted discussions on the implications for promoting gender equality and equity in the Education 2030 agenda.
The government of Viet Nam includes gender equality in education among its national goals through the
National Strategy on Gender Equality (2011 – 2020). In order to mainstream gender equality in education, the National Strategy aims at incorporating this issue in the national curriculum from primary to secondary education levels, as well as in policies, programs and plans across the education sector. Two milestones in this process were a gender-sensitive textbook review and analysis and the elaboration of the 2016-2020 Action Plan on Gender Equality for the Education Sector, followed by the launch of an action month for gender equality under the theme of violence against women and girl children.
The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), in partnership with UNESCO, is also implementing the Gender Equality and Girls’ Education Initiative. Through the initiative, Ministry officials have taken part in training workshops to build their own knowledge of gender issues and gender mainstreaming, and to enable them to incorporate a gender perspective into their evaluation of the Education Sector Strategic Plan’s first implementation phase. One outcome of this increased awareness is the effort to develop a Guiding Document on Gender Mainstreaming in Textbook and Curriculum Development. The Ministry of Education has also developed teacher training modules to address gender issues and promote gender equality.
Ghana has been working towards gender equality in education for many years, with early efforts consolidated in 2001 through a symposium on girls’ education and the resulting National Vision for Girls’ Education in Ghana. Guided by this vision, a curriculum review resulted in more gender-neutral language and the introduction of gender equality and child rights as issues for study, and a program of in-service training on gender awareness was offered to teachers around the country. Development partners have played a key role in promoting gender awareness in education, including Camfed’s work with Learner Guides, and the Strategies for Advancing Girls’ Education (SAGE) project, which trained girls’ education officers in all of Ghana’s 110 districts and mobilized media coverage of girls’ education issues.
Ghana’s current Education Strategic Plan 2010 – 2020 calls for the mainstreaming of gender issues through primary, secondary, and non-formal education as one of its main policy objectives. Teacher training continues to be one of the primary strategies for achieving this, with the new government programme Transforming Teacher Education and Learning (T-TEL) listing gender and inclusion as one of its seven main target areas of work, striving to “integrate gender inclusion across the teacher education sector.”
Further resources on teachers' gender awareness
Oxfam GB. 2005. Gender Equality in Schools, Education and Gender Equality Series.
UNESCO & UNGEI. 2016. Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review: Creating Sustainable Futures for All, pp. 52-53.
UNESCO & UNGEI. 2015. Gender and EFA 2000-2015: Achievements and Challenges, (p. 40 – 44).
Contributed by : Barbara Santibanez Catherine Honeyman