GRP: Background to a Gender Responsive School

This unit looks at the background to a Gender Responsive School
Gender Responsive School Environment
Gender Responsive School Environment

The gender inequities pervading society are carried into the school environment. This is evidenced in school processes such as teaching, teacher–pupil interaction, assigning of roles to pupils, school management, and the plan and design of the physical infrastructure.

The teaching and learning materials, for example, may contain gender stereotypes, which the teachers may be unaware of and they may also not always be aware of the gender specific needs of both girls and boys. The School Management Systems may not sufficiently address gender constraints such as sexual harassment. Also, many schools do not have adequate or separate toilets for girls and boys. Such schools do not provide a gender responsive environment for effective teaching and learning to take place.

Competences

By the end of this unit, the teacher should be able to:

  1. Define a “gender responsive school”.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the difference between an ordinary school and a gender responsive school

A gender responsive school is one in which the academic, social and physical environment and its surrounding community take into account the specific needs of both girls and boys. This implies that the teachers, parents, community leaders and members, and the boys and girls are all aware of and practice gender equality. It also assumes that school management systems, policies and practices recognise and address the gender- or sex-based needs of both girls and boys. In addition, in a gender responsive school, the academic delivery, including teaching methodologies, teaching and learning materials, classroom interaction, and management of academic processes, is gender responsive. The pupils, both girls and boys, are empowered to practice gender equality and to protect the democratic and human rights of both genders. The concept extends right up to the physical environment in the school – including buildings, furniture and equipment.

What Does It Take to Make a School Gender Responsive?

In order to arrive at such a gender responsive school, a holistic approach involving various interventions is required. The holistic intervention package can include the following elements:

  1. Undertaking gender sensitisation of parents, community leaders and members, teachers, girls and boys in order to raise their awareness and understanding of the need to support both girls’ and boys’ education
  2. Training teachers in the skills for making teaching and learning processes

responsive to the specific needs of girls and boys.

  1. Empowering girls with skills for self-confidence, assertiveness, speaking out, decision making and negotiation in order for them to overcome gender- based constraints to their
  2. Empowering boys with skills to de-link from gender oppressive attitudes and practices such as macho-ism, bullying and sexual affronts and to develop the self-confidence needed to accept gender equality
  3. Training the school community in the skills necessary to improve their reproductive health and protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS.
  4. Training the school community to manage sexual maturation issues of both girls and boys with particular emphasis on menstruation
  5. Training teachers and pupils in guidance and counselling
  6. Establishing guidance and counselling desks in order to provide services for the social and psychological development of girls and
  7. Providing educational support (scholarships, guidance and counselling etc) to needy girls and boys to ensure that they do not drop out of
  8. Providing gender responsive infrastructure including boarding facilities in case of long distances from
  9. Providing separate and adequate toilets for girls and
  10. Providing adequate and clean water and sanitation, especially to enhance menstruation management and the overall health of the school
  11. Carrying out activities to promote the participation of girls in science, mathematics and technology (SMT)
  12. Establishing a gender responsive school management system that ensures gender equality in the governance and operation of the
  13. Undertake gender training of the School Management Team, including the School Board of Governors / School Management Committee, Parent Teachers’ Association, Heads of Departments / Subjects and Prefects in order to raise awareness on the need to support girls’
  1. Involving the community and other stakeholders in monitoring and taking action to ensure improved enrolment, attendance and performance of
  2. Establishing a database to track pupils’ performance and welfare as well as the levels of gender responsiveness of all aspects of the

This holistic intervention package specifically addresses the gender responsiveness of the school. However, it can only be effectively applied if the basic standards of an ordinary school are in place.

What Is an Ordinary School?

The Directorate of Education Standards (DES) in the Ministry of Education and Sports has a tool that lays out the basic requirements referred to as minimum standards that an ideal school has to conform to. It covers 12 key areas:

  1. Overall management of the school
  2. Structures and facilities provision and management
  3. Staff Organisation and development
  4. Teaching and learning processes – organisation and management
  5. Co-curricular activities organisation and development
  6. Students organisation and development
  7. Finance generation and management
  8. Institution – parents – community organisation and development
  9. Health, sanitation and environment organisation and development
  10. Discipline management and development
  11. Time organisation and management
  12. Institution safety and security organisation and management

These standards can be further catalogued as follows:

Physical Environment:

  1. Adequate
  2. Classrooms that are adequate for the
  3. Laboratories for science, technical and ICT
  4. Dormitories (where needed), matron’s houses and dining
  5. Health facilities (sick bay).
  6. Amenities (water, telephone, transport, electricity and sanitation).
  7. Teachers’
  8. Sport and recreational facilities.
  9. Favourable ecological

Academic Environment

  1. Number of pupils that matches available facilities and
  2. Adequate teaching and learning materials.ie. Teachers’ guides, textbooks, library books
  3. Science equipment and chemicals.
  4. Adequate, qualified and motivated
  5. Effective school management
  6. Functioning Professional Code of Conduct for Teachers, Teacher and student- friendly school rules and regulations.
  7. Periodic in-service training for

Social Environment

  1. Adequate working conditions for teachers, including salaries, housing and benefits.
  1. Organised student
  2. Sports and recreational activities.
  3. Operational School Management Committees (SMCs) / Boards of Governors (BoGs) and Parent – Teacher Associations (PTAs).
  4. Community involvement in the school
  5. Inter-school visits and
  6. Resource mobilization through income generating projects, grants,

The Centre of Excellence (CoE) Model

Various models can be used to introduce a gender responsive environment in a school. One such model is the FAWE Centres of Excellence Model.

The box below illustrates the characteristics of the Centre of Excellence:

Examples of Gender Responsiveness in FAWE Centres of Excellence
Examples of Gender Responsiveness in FAWE Centres of Excellence

To date there are eight FAWE Centres of Excellence in Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal,  Tanzania and  Uganda.  These  schools  are already demonstrating results in terms of transforming an ordinary and sometimes sub-standard school into a gender responsive one, physically, socially and academically.

Activities a teacher should undertake to assess the level of Gender Responsiveness in a school

You can watch the video below on a gender inclusive school

Examples of Gender Responsiveness in a School

For a school to be gender responsive, the followings must be exhibited in the every day aspects of schooling.

Undertaking gender sensitization of parents, community  leaders  and  members,  teachers,   girls and boys in order to raise their awareness and understanding of the need to support girls’ education.

Training teachers in the skills for making teaching and learning processes responsive to the specific needs of girls and boys.

Empowering girls with skills for self-confidence, assertiveness, speaking out, decision making

and negotiation in order for them to overcome gender-based constraints to their education.

Empowering boys with skills to de-link from gender oppressive attitudes and practices such as macho-ism, bullying and sexual affronts and to develop the self-confidence needed to accept gender equality positively.

Training the school community in the skills necessary  to  improve  their  reproductive health and protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS.

Training the school community  to  manage  sexual maturation issues of both girls and boys with particular emphasis on menstruation management.

Training teachers and students in guidance and counselling skills.

Establishing  guidance  and   counselling   desks in order to provide services for the social and psychological development of girls and boys.

Providing scholarships and support to needy  girls and boys to ensure that they do not drop out of school.

Providing gender responsive infrastructure including:

  • Boarding facilities in case of long distances from
  • Separate and adequate toilets for girls and
  • Adequate and clean water and sanitation, especially to enhance menstruation management and the overall health of the school community.

Carrying out activities to promote the participation of girls in science, mathematics  and technology (SMT) subjects.

Establishing a gender responsive school management system that ensures gender equality in the governance and operation of the school.

Undertaking gender training of the school management team, including the school board, parent–teacher association, heads of departments and prefects, in order to raise their awareness on the need to support girls’ education.

Involving the community and other stakeholders in monitoring and taking action to ensure improved enrolment, attendance and performance of girls.

Establishing a database to track student performance and welfare as well as the levels of gender responsiveness of all aspects of the school

 

 

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