Breaking barriers: How gender equality in education empowers women, girls

Published April 8, 2021, 2:59 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Noting that gender issues remain a practice of “tokenism” in schools at this time, a group is pushing for mainstreaming of gender equality in education to ensure a safe and gender-fair learning environment for learners – especially to women and girls.

(Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP / FILE PHOTO)

“In terms of participation in basic education, girls and boys are given equal chances with almost the same percentage share,” the Civil Society for Education Reforms Network (E-Net Philippines) said.

However, the group noted that the curriculum and learning materials that promote gender sensitiveness and fairness “persist to be a challenge in the education system.”

E-Net Philippines also noted the issue of an “unsafe learning environment” which contributes to drop-out cases in schools.

Citing the result of the 2015 National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children, the group said that “80 percent of Filipino youths have experienced violence and 14 percent of students in schools have experienced corporal punishment.”

The group also explained that overall, “there is an increasing violence among girls because of early marriages and teen pregnancies.”

It added that bullying lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) in schools because of gender insensitiveness among teachers and students is also a “contributing factor to prevailing violence.”

Important steps in gender mainstreaming

Given these, E-Net Philippines is calling on education duty bearers to “review and assess the curriculum towards gender-responsive education.”

The group also underscored the need “develop gender-sensitive learning materials in terms of definition of concepts, interpretation of facts and events, meaning-making, usage of language and images/illustrations, and in employing activities.”

E-Net Philippines added that the conduct of continuing gender education to all education stakeholders is crucial – especially integrating issues of social class, culture, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation.

Gender-receptive School Improvement Plan (SIP) and school policies should also be implemented to provide equal opportunity to all students regardless of gender in participating in school activities. “Observe everyone’s right to a gender-fair learning environment,” E-Net Philippines said.

Moreover, the group underscored the need to promote gender balance in educational opportunity that matches with needs of industry and agriculture and equality of professions in the labor markets.

It added that developing policies that will encourage better balance of men and women in recruitment, teacher education, conditions of work or in the status of teaching as a career to be able to recruit new teachers or encourage other teachers to remain in the teaching profession is also needed.

E-Net Philippines said that addressing the human rights framework and gender content of teacher education from the pre-service and in the in-service professional development of teachers is also crucial as well as the implementation of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670) from a gender perspective.

“Raising awareness on gender equality in education among the school administrators, curriculum developers and writers, teaching and non-teaching personnel, parents and students, and involving them in identifying actions on how to realize it, are important steps in gender mainstreaming,” E-Net Philippines ended.

 
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