Gender-responsive teaching methods

“The Hidden Curriculum” through the prism of gender-responsive teaching methods

Almir Panjeta for UNICEF
Rodno odgovorne metode podučavanja
UNICEF/Panjeta
20 December 2021

In partnership with the organization Genesis from Banja Luka, and as part of the activities of IT Girls clubs, UNICEF has worked in recent months to develop teaching resources in the field of gender-responsive teaching, and the results were presented at the final presentation of the IT Girls Initiative project "Gender Responsive Teaching Methods".  

 "UNICEF in BiH proudly stands behind the IT Girls Initiative, which seeks to demystify STEM areas and empower girls for 21st century occupations. Teachers of our IT Girls clubs are an extremely important source of information for the design of our programmes, and today we are witnessing the successful implementation of an initiative that arose in response to the need to reduce the discrepancy between what we promote and how we do it, " Sanja Kabil, Head of the UNICEF BiH Education Programme said at the opening of the final presentation, emphasizing that "We cannot expect girls to have enough self-confidence to try themselves out in STEM areas if we expose them exclusively to male rather than female engineers, male rather than female mathematicians."

Prof. Dr. Srđan Dušanić explained why it is important to apply gender-responsive teaching methods, emphasizing that, looking at our context, this is quite innovative.

"Gender-responsive teaching is as important as gender equality. Gender equality is unfortunately still a taboo topic. Such programmes have stimulated me to better understand the seriousness of the problem and where it leads. I hope that in this way we will raise awareness of the full extent of this issue, and I claim that many educators, starting from colleges, through primary and secondary education, and our educational institutions - institutes and ministries, are not aware of this problem at all, "said Prof. Dr. Dušanić. 

rezultati su predstavljeni na završnoj prezentaciji projekta IT Girls inicijative „Rodno odgovorne metode podučavanja
UNICEF/Panjeta

As part of the IT Girls Initiative, jointly implemented by UNDP, UNICEF and UN Women, IT Girls clubs were established in schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019 with the aim of encouraging girls to develop programming skills and skills for the 21st century. By monitoring the development of the initiative, it was determined that additional external support is needed for teaching staff and school services, and an expert group was formed consisting of experts in education, psychology, gender studies and engineering, which, based on the analysis of teaching units included in available textbooks used in BiH schools, developed a manual intended for independent work of teachers in the analysis and improvement of the teaching process from the perspective of gender-responsive teaching.

Two groups of male and female primary and secondary school teachers, 38 in total, also underwent pilot training of trainers to expand their knowledge and skills on gender-responsive teaching methods in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). Valuated based on experiences and feedback, the "Manual for Educators on Gender-Responsive Teaching" and the "Manual for Introducing Teachers to Gender-Responsive Teaching Methods" were presented and distributed at the Final Presentation.

"The school, i.e. both female and male teachers and professors in it are one of the important factors of socialization. We cannot look at a child's development exclusively through the family and think that it is only the parents who are responsible for the development of the child's personality. That is why it is important that educators are trained in gender-responsive teaching, in order to properly educate boys and girls, without stereotypes - both positive and negative. In order to help them and open their horizons, enable them to be what they are and what they think they are", says Prof. Dr. Ivana Zečević, one of the members of the expert group who presented the "Analysis and enrichment of teaching content according to the principles of gender-responsive teaching" at the final presentation.

Prof. Dr. Zilka Spahić Šiljak, who spoke at the final presentation on the topic "The concept of gender, gender-sensitive use of language and images in schools" especially underlines the importance of gender-responsive pedagogy:

"It actually includes not only the teaching staff but the entire school or university community, and in addition to the formal curriculum, curriculum we have in educational institutions, the "hidden curriculum" that teachers show during their lectures in their work with pupils and students is also important", she says, explaining that "this hidden curriculum is actually a reflection of social norms - the way we learn and create gender roles".  

IT Girls
UNICEF/Panjeta

"If the teaching staff is not gender-sensitized, then through this hidden curriculum they will convey discriminatory, sexist, and often misogynistic messages to students, or they will not be sensitive enough to sexism and gender-based discrimination, which usually goes unnoticed, under the radar", explained the proof reader, Danijela Vasić .

The "Virtual Classroom" was also presented at the final presentation, available on the YouTube channel of the "Genesis", through which interested teachers can get acquainted with gender-responsive teaching in four videos.

In the end, the executive director of the "Genesis" organization, Diana Pejić, emphasized that the trainings were extremely successful, especially since they were held in the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, online via the Zoom platform, but this did not prevent the participants from being actively involved.

"The goal of the online trainings, held through 8 modules, was to support primary and secondary school teachers in developing gender-sensitive teaching methods that are a prerequisite for involving more girls in STEM areas. Of course, as we have heard from our professors, it is possible to introduce this in all other subjects too, " said Dijana Pejić, emphasizing that in this way an innovative approach to education was presented, based on taking care for gender equity and equality in the classroom and during teaching:

"There was a large number of interested people who listened to our experts, I believe it was useful, interesting, comprehensive and quite demanding, but I also believe that everyone came out enriched with a lot of new knowledge, skills and awareness of some topics they did not know much about before", concluded Dijana Pejić.