Posted by Maria Codina on March 7, 2019 at 11:46 am
Early childhood is characterised by rapid brain development and the acquisition of foundational skills and competences. Investment in early childhood interventions accrue long-term economic and social returns, including making the early start fair to all, and the provision of equal opportunities for both girls and boys. Even though teachers, caregivers and practitioners are among the most influential players to ensure equity, access and quality in ECE, various studies emonstrate that the ECE workforce in Africa is one of the most neglected in terms of training, professionalisation, status and working and living conditions. UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) has been working to strengthen and develop the capacity of teachers in the continent since 1999 in order to improve the quality of education. ECE is a priority for both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Continental Education Strategy of Africa (CESA) 2016-2025. In particular, as a coordinator of the Teacher Education and Development Cluster of CESA 2016-25, we are delighted to write an introduction to this extremely useful, accessible and important toolkit.
African education systems today are being challenged to extend opportunities for quality education and training to all learners, especially the more vulnerable ones.2
aims to respond to the learning needs of all learners and help them reach their full potential. This toolkit can support teachers and school leaders in providing learners with a more gender-responsive learning environment.
The toolkit primarily targets ECE teachers, school leaders, ECE student teachers, ECE teacher trainers, caregivers and any other practitioners who deal with younger children. It is also a useful resource for researchers, school parent committees and governing bodies, civil society organisations, community leaders and education policy makers.
The toolkit offers an introduction to GRP in ECE and serves as a practical guide that can be adapted to any context and the related needs. It is a source of ideas that individual teachers and school leaders can put to immediate use in their classrooms and schools.
The toolkit comprises five chapters. The first gives an overview of gender in education in the African context. The sociocultural environment influences teaching and learning. The first chapter also contains key definitions related to gender and education, and references to international commitments to gender equality in education.
The second chapter, which forms the core of the toolkit, introduces GRP in ECE. It explores how gender responsiveness in lesson planning, lesson delivery, the teaching and learning environment, learning materials, interactions and use of language can foster real learning. The chapter also provides practical insights and tips on play activities and areas that encourage all learners, without hindrance, and on ways to assess learning. A gender-responsiveness reflection tool is included at the end of this chapter. The third chapter focuses on GRP and school leadership, identifying ways to integrate GRP in schools through the different dimensions of school leadership. It explores how school leaders can evelop a gender-responsive vision and gender-responsive values for their schools. It also provides guidance on gender-responsive planning and monitoring. The chapter also suggests ways to restructure the school organisation to foster GRP and ways to strengthen gender-responsive teaching and learning by setting gender-responsive human resources policies, developing the gender-responsive capacities of staff, enriching the curriculum and improving conditions for gender-responsive teaching and learning. The chapter provides insights into the role of gender in relationships within school communities and on child safety and protection. The chapter concludes with a reflection tool for the school leader.
Chapter 4 offers some ideas for practical classroom activities for learners, designed to generate opportunities to talk about gender roles and challenge stereotypes in the ECE classroom. There is advice on questions to ask. Materials are provided for some activities, with a picture book provided as an annex to the chapter.
The fifth chapter consists of guidelines for an interactive game, called Go Gender Go, for teachers and school leaders. Playing this game in groups encourages conversation and reflection on the content of the toolkit.
It is not necessary to read the entire toolkit from beginning to end. Teachers are encouraged to focus on Chapter 2 and the learner activities in Chapter 4. Different sections within chapters can also be read independently. The Go Gender Go game is meant to stimulate discussion and self-reflection, and to encourage players to refer to the content of the toolkit.