There is no doubt that tremendous gains in education have been made since 2000. Access and participation have markedly increased, for girls and boys, through the provision of more classrooms, textbooks and toilets and the recruitment of more, and better trained, teachers. There is a lot to celebrate and be proud of. And there is still a long way to go.
The Incheon Declaration for Education 2030 succinctly sets out the main challenges faced by governments and development partners to ensure that education empowers girls and boys equally and that no child is left behind.
How can governments and development partners overcome these challenges? And specifically how can we best respond to the complex area of gender-based discrimination, acknowledged in the EFA Framework for Action as one of the most “intractable constraints” to achieving the right to a quality education?
New toolkit explores gender issues in education
New guidance developed by GPE and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) ] supports practitioners to refresh their knowledge of gender equality, to identify, better understand and respond effectively to gender issues in education. The guidance goes beyond girls’ education, to consider gender equality more broadly, in curricula, textbooks, assessment, teacher education and more.
Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans is aimed at partners at country-level including education ministry officials and other government departments, development partners and civil society organizations; and at global and regional actors such as international donors and NGOs involved in funding and implementing education programs.
The guidelines are made up of 10 modules that show how to conduct gender analyses and integrate gender issues into the preparation and appraisal of education sector plans. They offer practical guidance on collecting gender-sensitive quantitative and qualitative data, analyzing and interpreting this data, and using the findings to enhance the strategic planning process and choose transformational approaches and interventions
Gender responsive frameworks, analysis and planning
The 10 modules are grouped into four categories: gender framework (module 1), gender analysis (2–5), plan preparation (6–9) and plan appraisal (10). Here’s a brief overview:
- Module 1: Introducing a gender-responsive approach to education sector planning. Among the components of this module is a framework to identify the key elements of a gender-responsive ESP, and an analysis of how gender connects to broader inclusion issues.
- Module 2: Assessing the enabling environment for gender equality. This module aims to heighten awareness of the economic, legal, political and social contexts needed to understand gender inequalities in education at the country level.
- Module 3: Applying a gender lens to education sector policy. This sheds light on the achievements and areas needing improvement in girls’ education under current education policies.
- Module 4: Using data to examine challenges to gender equality in education. This shows how administrative and survey data can be used to understand gender disparities and their causes.
- Module 5: Assessing institutional capacity to address gender inequality in education. This exercise helps ensure ESPs are in line with the human resource capacities of government agencies.
- Module 6: Gender-sensitive stakeholder consultation and participation. Representation by girls/boys and women/men ensure their different needs and priorities are understood and addressed during sector planning, implementation and monitoring.
- Module 7: Selecting strategies and interventions to address gender disparities. Among this module’s aims are to show how information from the previous modules can be used to inform the choice of strategies and interventions.
- Module 8: Using costing to inform the choice of strategies and interventions for promoting gender equality. This can help ensure sufficient resources are allocated in education budgets to implement strategies.
- Module 9: Monitoring and evaluation to support gender equality. This model shows how robust indicators and frameworks help capture and track the effectiveness of interventions.
- Module 10: Summary checklist: Is the education sector plan gender responsive? This assesses whether an ESP is gender-responsive.
Boosting gender equality in education – bringing benefits to children, their families, and society
The guidelines lay valuable groundwork for practitioners, helping to build capacity to understand what administrative data and surveys reveal about gender disparities and to identify areas where gender issues need to be integrated into education sector plans.
However, they are a starting point and are not exhaustive. For education sector plans to be transformative in terms of gender equality, the expertise of gender specialists will be needed, as well as cross-sectoral engagement and support
Gender equality means going beyond girls’ education, and beyond parity in enrollment. And in examining successes and areas where more effort and resources are needed in education, it is important to remember that gender disparities are magnified by complex and intersecting disadvantage and discrimination including location, poverty and ethnicity.
The gender responsive sector planning guidelines are a practical tool, supporting the development of strong, effective education sector plans that aim to systematically eliminate gender bias and discrimination, and contributing to the global commitment to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.