United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and Forum for African Women Educationists in Malawi (FAWEMA) have developed a gender responsive pedagogy in a radical approach to mainstream gender and gender responsive teaching and learning in public schools.
The training for TTC lectures and secondary school head in progress.- photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times FAWEMA executive director Wesley Chabwera: We want to make sure that teachers have been oriented on how they can bring up girls
The pedagogy touches on basic idea about the role of gender in the education sector, specifically in schools.
UNICEF Education Manager, Vinoba Gautum, the module aims to mould gender-sensitive lecturers and secondary school head teachers who will, in turn, impart the knowledge and skills on student teachers and learners, respectively, thereby cultivating a gender responsive nation.
Gautum observed that girls in Malawi, and many other countries in Africa and beyond, face myriad challenges to access education at the same footing with their male counterparts.
"We are all aware of the disadvantages girls face in different walks of life and also in schools. So, this is the training through which we are trying to work with teacher training colleges, lecturers and head teachers to address the harmful practices that tend to disadvantage girls in education," he said.
Gautum said it is against this background that the two organisations have initiated trainings targeting lecturers in public teacher training colleges (TTCs) and head teachers from selected secondary schools across the country.
"We have launched a module gender responsive pedagogy. We are working in partnership with FAWEMA, which is our technical agency to roll out this gender responsive pedagogy to teacher training colleges across the country.
"We want to see change in how girls are addressed in school; how girls are treated in the school campus. Are they comfortable? And in order to make them comfortable, what are the measures that teachers must take [to make the girl-learners comfortable? These are the behaviour and attitude we are trying to inculcate in schools so that things change in favour of the girls," Gautum added.
"We expect very simple things from the teachers after undergoing this training. Treat girls just as you treat boys. That's all!" he stressed.
FAWEMA executive director Wesley Chabwera said they have organised the training sessions in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology with funding from the Unicef.
Chabwera said the main objective of the training is to make sure that teachers have been oriented on how they can bring up girls to be able to participate together with the boys in the classroom and be able to learn with boys.
"Evidence is showing that, in our setup, especially with our cultural background, teachers usually focus on male learners.
"So, we want the teachers to make sure that boys and girls are equally participating in the classroom, but also that the school management should take into consideration the needs of girls and boys make and that girls are safe; and they are able to learn and participate in all the activities taking place at the school thereby promoting gender equality within the school system," he explained.
The first phase of the project will run for the next one and will target all the public TTCs in the country, according to Chabwera.