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2013 Gambia: Evaluation of the Gender Training for Teachers and School Management Committee Members in URR



Author: Omar Ousman Jobe

Executive summary

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Background:

The education objectives since 1988 have been underpinned by the desire to provide equal educational opportunities to both boys and girls. The current Education Policy (2004-2015) embodies the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education’s intentions and efforts to promote girls’ education and the application of a gender sensitive curriculum in the school environment. To that end, community awareness programmes and interventions geared towards increasing access to educational opportunities have been developed with support from development partners like UNICEF and UNDP.

The Upper River Region (where this survey took place) is one of three (3) regions where an active campaign dubbed ‘Big Bang’ was conducted by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education with support from UNICEF to get girls into the school system, thus contributing to bridging the gender gap. All these laudable initiatives are in line with the provisions of such international instruments as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the Education for All Goals (EFA).

Purpose/Objective:

The Overall Objective of this Evaluation was:

• To analyze gender responsiveness of teachers in classroom discourse and to assess any positive changes in teachers’ methodologies in reaching all the children in the classroom regardless of their sex.

The specific objectives of the evaluation are:

• To determine the effectiveness and efficiency (if any) of the training provided for teachers and SMC members on gender with a view to removing gender stereotyping across the school curriculum.

• To gauge to what extent the training provided for teachers could be deemed effective and to establish whether or not their knowledge, attitudes, and practices on gender has changed during classroom teaching and interactions

• To establish the efficiency and effectiveness with which the financial resources totalling $39,884 were used to achieve the desired development results

Methodology:

The evaluation used a mix of both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. It combined a desk review of available literature, official documents and data on gender across the school curriculum. The information and data for the desk review were obtained from official government documents, including those produced by the Gender Unit. That included, training reports on gender, the gender training manual, the gender action pack, the sexual harassment policy and guidelines against sexual abuse. Focus group discussions and interviews with teachers, Mothers Clubs, School Management Committees (SMC) members, and classroom observations formed part of the qualitative analysis.

Questionnaires and interviews guides were developed to facilitate the assessment.  Questionnaire containing carefully designed and selected Attitude, Knowledge and Practices questions were designed to help identify important determinants of the effectiveness of the gender training.

The following questionnaire and interview guides were used:

a) Teacher Questionnaire

b) Student Questionnaire

c) Discussion Guide for Focus Group Discussions (FGD) for SMC, PTA and Mothers’ Clubs

The stakeholders consulted included the following categories: UNICEF Education team, The Gender Unit of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), the Regional Directorate in the Upper River Region (URR), School Management Committees, Mothers’ Clubs, teachers and students.

Findings and Conclusions:

Efforts aimed at mainstreaming gender in the school curriculum and empowering girls to reach their full potential are underway. The Gender Unit of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, UNICEF, FAWEGAM and the Women’s Bureau have been championing the integration of gender at various levels in development planning processes. Some important gains have been registered so far, including a significant increase in access to education by the girl child. But important challenges remain. Although the right to equal education opportunities is now recognized by most parents at the Lower Basic School (LBS) level, cultural resistance beyond that level still lingers added to the burden of hidden costs and the perception of conventional education, resulting in lower retention level of girls thus eroding the gains of the LBS.

The training sponsored by UNICEF to promote gender responsive teaching presentations is a step in the right direction. As a one-off training, it is difficult to establish whether the trained teachers are now totally immersed in the required gender skills and are systematically applying the approach in all curricular and extra-curricular activities. The 26 teachers subjected to classroom observation were duly informed about the mission and may have been consciously responding to the expectations of the researchers. That notwithstanding, a total mastery by the trained teachers of the tool and the confidence to apply it (as a culture) is uncertain from the results of the research.

Recommendations:

The finding of the survey and the issues raised in the analysis call for a certain number of recommendations as a way forward:

• Advocacy geared towards creating awareness on the importance of allowing the girl child to proceed up to senior secondary school must be intensified using as many female role models as possible, particularly those hailing directly from the target communities.

• The teachers already trained certainly need more in-depth training on ways of systematically applying the methodology. Mechanisms should also be devised for those trained to conduct step down training at school level for the benefit of the untrained teachers. There are indications that some of the teachers trained are also sharing what they have learnt from the gender training with colleagues who have not yet been trained via informal peer-to-peer learning initiatives. Such initiatives need to be encouraged for that multiplier effect to take root. That way, value for money will be maximized.

• The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education should consider upgrading a few more schools in important communities to Upper Basic level to deal with the apprehension of many parents to let their girl child travel long distances to the nearest community in pursuit of higher education. That way, the issue of retaining girls in the school system will be partially resolved.

• In other to encourage more interactions between boys and girls it would be important to encourage mixed groups of boys and girls in all schools rather than having segregated groups or rows as observed in certain schools



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Report information

Year:
2014

Country:
Gambia

Region:
WCARO

Theme:
Gender

Partners:
The Gender Unit of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE)

Type:
Evaluation

Language:
English

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