Gender Responsive School Management Systems

Gender Responsive School Management Systems
Gender Responsive School Management Systems

One teacher in isolation cannot transform the pedagogy to be gender responsive. It is a process that requires the action and commitment of all stakeholders, including other teachers, parents, and pupils both girls and boys, led by the School Management. The effort to establish a gender responsive pedagogy must be supported by a gender responsive school management system.

Many of the actions needed to make a school gender responsive require the introduction of new approaches, practices and systems. Thus, School Management must adjust even as the classroom environment is changing. For example, simply rearranging the classroom set up to make it more participatory may involve a review of school policy, the agreement of other teachers, and the infusion of human and financial resources.

More complex issues, such as dealing with a child who has been sexually harassed in the school, will require action and policy standards by the school management to deal with the perpetrator, the services of the guidance and counselling teacher, and the support of fellow learners to ease the stigma. In all cases, the School Management sets the tone – by being open and participatory itself, by establishing a gender responsive policy framework, and by adopting a zero tolerance approach to sexual innuendo, harassment and abuse.

Supportive Management Systems

The School Management thus has an overarching role to play in ensuring the school environment nurtures a gender responsive pedagogy. It is the School Management that provides teaching and learning materials that are gender responsive and management that re-trains teachers in gender responsive pedagogy. In addition, it is management’s responsibility to formulate, apply and monitor rules and regulations that will transform the school into a gender responsive environment. Moreover, the School Management should provide the necessary human resources for efficient gender responsive management and governance of the school. When parents do not send girls to school, the management should intervene and sensitize the community about the importance of girls’ education. School management systems do not provide rules and regulations that cater  for girls who miss school for genuine reasons such as menstruation-related causes. To the contrary, school rules and regulations often totally disregard the needs of maturing girls, setting up a situation that causes undue problems and inconveniences.

In Unit 9, we noted the impact on schooling of menstrual problems such as missing school and embarrassment. Sometimes policies can worsen this situation. For example, locking dormitories for the whole day may make some sense, but it also makes it difficult for girls who are going through their menstrual period to use the dormitories to change their sanitary towels. Ensuring adequate and separate toilet facilities may be a budget issue, but again the impact of not doing so can affect the learning process.

Some schools do not have separate toilets for girls and boys, and even if they do, the toilets may be too close together to provide adequate privacy for girls especially during menstruation. In addition, the girls’ toilets may not be conducive for girls to change their sanitary wear. A simple attachment like a hook or a nail to enable the girls to hang items on the inside of the toilet door may be necessary, along with a supply of water to facilitate menstrual hygiene.

Activities for Supportive Management Systems

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