How teacher training can support a truly gender transformative approach to education

Education is powerful tool for social change, promoting girls’ inherent agency, and for achieving gender equality. The Gender Responsive Pedagogy Teacher Training tool provides a practical approach to integrating gender equality into child-centered pedagogical training.

December 21, 2020 by Saadya Hamdani, Plan International Canada
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4 minutes read
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A teacher and her students in class
A teacher looks on as her Grade III students share a textbook. Ecole Patti, Niger, April 2017.
GPE/Kelley Lynch

Plan International Canada is pleased to share the Gender Responsive Pedagogy Teacher Training (GRPTT) pack. The GRPTT provides a practical approach to integrating gender equality into child-centered pedagogical training. It supports teachers to explore their personal experiences of gender and then identify and respond to key issues faced by boys and girls in their schools and learning environments.

Gender transformative education: more than just girls’ schooling

Ensuring that girls can equally, and meaningfully, participate in school is vital. However, numerical equality alone is not enough. Education can also be a powerful tool for social change, promoting girls’ inherent agency, and for achieving gender equality.

A gender transformative approach to education goes beyond recognizing gender disparities within the education system and the learning experience of the student, and strives to harness the full potential of education to transform attitudes and practices within and beyond the education system to contribute to a broader environment of gender justice for girls and boys in all their diversity.

Gender equality ‘to’, ‘in’ and ‘through’ education

This means recognizing the root causes of discriminatory gender norms and unequal power relationships and structures, and analyzing how the tools and process of education can bring about change. For example, child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) is both a root cause and an outcome of gender inequality which can have a devastating effect on a girl’s education.

A gender transformative approach responds to this by targeting the prejudicial laws that restrict access to school for married adolescents, engaging with communities, including girls themselves, boys and men, women and other community influencers to challenge such practices, and promoting teaching approaches and curricula that counter gender inequalities and empower learners to realize their right to education.

Plan International Guidance Note: Gender Transformative Education and Programming (2020)

The power of teachers

Teachers are the cornerstone of an education system and one of the strongest potential allies in promoting gender equality both in the classroom and beyond.

Gender transformative education prioritizes the advancement of teachers as role models, representatives, and agents of change for gender equality in the classroom and within their schools.

For teachers to play these roles, they need training on how to actively promote gender equality in their teaching practices. As role models and representatives, teachers need to be able to examine their own gender biases, identify inequalities in the classroom, and develop strategies and responses to ensure they provide an education that challenges and transforms such negative norms and attitudes.

Gender-responsive teacher training

A gender-responsive approach to teacher training ensures that issues of gender inequality are incorporated into everything a teacher does. It builds on the core foundations of child-centered learning and pedagogies of empowerment by adding a critical lens onto the gendered nature of the learning environment, and how it reflects and responds to gender-inequalities in the wider society.

Plan International has developed the Gender Responsive Pedagogy Teacher Training pack (GRPTT) to support teachers to explore their personal experiences of gender. They can then identify and respond to key issues faced by boys and girls, in all their diversity, in their schools and learning environments.

The GRPTT encourages teachers to:

  • recognize the intersectional barriers that girls and boys face in accessing and completing school;
  • respond by using child-centered teaching practices that provide equal opportunities for children to learn and thrive at school and promote gender equality in the classroom.

The GRPTT curriculum is structured in four sections rolled out over 10 days and covers the core competencies of a quality, gender-responsive education. This includes lesson planning, assessment and evaluation, textbook analysis, content development, and positive discipline and conduct. The pack then integrates analysis of gender-based violence, gendered social norms, parental engagement in child learning, and wider classroom management practices that promote a gender-responsive environment.

For example, while teachers are building their skills on assessment, they are exploring how to avoid gender bias and understand how to address barriers to participation. This practical integration allows teachers to explore the application of gender considerations in their day-to-day teaching.

The GRPTT also includes detailed guidance for continued reflective practice by teachers.

The GRPTT was piloted in Mozambique in 2017 and has subsequently been implemented in a range of contexts. Following its delivery in South Sudan, a guidance note was added on adapting the GRPTT for crisis and conflict settings.

The pack has been researched to assess its effectiveness in creating gender responsive learning environments. Survey data and lesson observations showed changes in teacher practice, most notably relating to the use of gender-equal classroom management and discipline, the use of group work, and equality of participation between girls and boys. The training also showed a positive impact on absenteeism among female students.

Qualitative evidence demonstrated an increased awareness among trained teachers of the benefits of gender equality and child-centered methods. Head teacher buy-in was identified as critical for continued learning, teacher support, and changes to school management and protocols.

With the launch of the GRPTT we hope to further shift education systems towards a more explicit and active commitment to addressing gender-based barriers and exclusion within and beyond the classroom.

The GRPTT is open access and available through Plan International Canada’s website.

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