Training Trainers on Gender Responsive Pedagogy

Since 1975, the United Nations has celebrated International Women's Day on 8 March. The United Nations webpage describes it as a day celebrated in many countries around the world when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

The achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO and inextricably linked to its efforts to promote the right to education and support the achievement of the SDGs. Through the Education 2030 Framework for Action, SDG 4 aims to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ and SDG 5 to ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’. The Education 2030 Agenda recognizes that gender equality requires an approach that ‘ensures that girls and boys, women and men not only gain access to and complete education cycles, but are empowered equally in and through education’.

The theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2019 is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. Through the theme, IWD 2019 will look to industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists and women innovators to examine the ways in which innovation can remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality, encourage investment in gender-responsive social systems, and build services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.

Teachers play a pivotal role in setting norms and nurturing the next generation of learners. When they have the training and support to create a gender responsive classroom, teachers are eager to do so. Gender responsive pedagogy (GRP) refers to teaching and learning processes that pay attention to the specific learning needs of girls and boys. These can be identified by assessing the challenges and gaps in skills and knowledge for both genders.

Gender bias amongst teachers in many African countries remains prevalent and is a significant barrier to achieving gender equality. Without proper training and “unlearning” of gender-biased beliefs and behaviors, teachers will continue to apply teaching methods that do not address the specific needs of boys and girls, draw upon gender-insensitive materials and reinforce gender stereotypes. UNESCO IICBA, FAWE and UNICEF held a training of trainers (TOT) on a GRP Toolkit they developed together, with Creative Action Institute (CAI), in 2018 (based on FAWE’s 2005 GRP Toolkit) for 42 participants from 9 countries from 25 February to 1 March 2019 in Lilongwe, Malawi. Participants included teacher educators from 20 different teacher training institutes (TTIs) and experts on teacher education from the Ministries of Education of Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Ghana and Liberia along with representatives from UNESCO and UNICEF field offices, the UNICEF Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the FAWE Regional Office and chapter offices. IICBA was represented by Ms. Eyerusalem Azmeraw, Project Officer and Ms. Indriyati Rodjan, Indonesian Seconded Expert.

The purpose of the TOT was to develop the capacities of education stakeholders on the effective utilization of the Toolkit. The GRP Toolkit has two primary aims: (i) to enhance the capacities of teacher educators and teachers in creating inclusive learning environments/classrooms and (ii) to enhance leadership and management skills of school administrators and educators to create and maintain gender-responsive and safe school environments. 

The training was officially opened by Mr. Justin Saidi, the Secretary for Education, Science and Technology at the Ministry of Education Science and Technology of Malawi. In the training, through the facilitation of the CAI team, the participants were guided to improve their understanding of GRP. They learned how to apply learner-centred pedagogy for gender responsiveness that can help learners to nurture gender responsive awareness through education and promotes their critical thinking skills and competences. 

The participants engaged in fruitful discussions and practicum in exploring how to use the GRP Toolkit at the school level and within TTIs as well as to identify priority areas of intervention, key implementation challenges and good practices to overcome obstacles in mainstreaming GRP.

During the workshop, participants from each country developed country work plans to enhance the capacities of teachers, teacher educators and TTIs in their respective country to mainstream GRP. IICBA, UNICEF and FAWE will develop a joint plan on how to support each country’s work plan.