“A Gender-responsive education system is key for Africa’s emergence” urged experts
African education experts gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the workshop on the capacity building on education and gender reiterated the urgent need for a gender sensitive teaching and learning environments on the African continent.
During the three-day workshop organized by the International Centre for the Education of Girls and Women in Africa (AU/CIEFFA), a specialized institution of the African Union, participants discussed and strategized on how to establish strong education systems prioritizing gender realities. Experts also reviewed and shared experiences on mainstreaming gender education in different African Union Member States. They also formulated some recommendations to be taken into consideration in Africa.
Experts underlined that measures need be taken in order to have gender friendly school textbooks in African countries. In that regard, they urged AU Member States, among other things, to formulate, strengthen textbook policies by integrating the gender dimension, to train actors in charge of developing textbooks for them to factor in the gender dimension, to set up a monitoring mechanism for textbooks at all levels, as well as to define evaluation criteria for learning and teaching materials. All the member states present confirmed that their teaching and learning resources would be revised following this workshop and would integrate gender-sensitive components.
Participants further recommended that African countries should encourage gender sensitive classroom practices in order to address the issue of gender socialization in school. The necessary actions, for that purpose, include training teachers, administrative and education staff on gender, facilitating gender responsive pedagogy through design of curriculum delivery guidelines, gender policy briefs to sensitize policy makers and programme implementers, development of regional gender policies and the reflection of gender education dimension in non-formal settings.
However, the implementation of all the proposed actions requires the establishment of effective partnerships for gender sensitive learning environment. In order to ensure this, parents-teachers associations (PTA) and school management committees should be recognized as key actors in this process. Moreover, laws should be adopted at the national level to ensure gender-responsive budgeting on education.
Closing the workshop on behalf of Dr. Mahama Ouedraogo, Acting Director for the Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union Commission, Dr. Rita Bissoonauth, Coordinator of the AU/CIEFFA, highlighted the importance of the consideration of the gender dimension in education for the achievement of Agenda 2063 aspirations. She said that participants to the workshop will have a pivotal role to play, in collaboration with AU/CIEFFA, to ensure that the recommendations of the meeting are implemented in AU Member States. In addition, she encouraged them to work in collaboration with the Forum for African women educationalists, to carry out research on gender education and to set out gender working groups to foster a gender sensitive approach on education in Africa.
Participants also underlined that Regional Economic Communities are key actors to ensuring that Member States revise their teaching and learning resources. In this regard, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States will organize a meeting in March 2016 for AU/CIEFFA focal points.
The International Centre for the Education of Girls and Women in Africa (AU/CIEFFA) is a specialized institution of the African Union since 2004, dealing with women and girls' education following Decision Assembly/AU/DEC.44 (III). One of its objectives is to build the operational capacities of Member States on girls and women's education issues. It is also a UNESCO category 2 institute.