A recent Commonwealth study has found that schools do not fulfil the responsibility of making gender relations more equal and just.
6 August 2008
Commonwealth study looks at classrooms and other aspects of schooling processes in 30 schools across seven countries
More work needs to be done on ‘school processes’ if the objectives of Education for All and the gender-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to become a reality, according to new Commonwealth research.
A recent study, which looked at classrooms and other aspects of the schooling processes in 30 schools across seven Commonwealth countries, has found that schools do not fulfil the responsibility of making gender relations more equal and just.
“This study clearly established that these schools are largely not change institutions; they tend merely to reinforce societal norms and practice without much questioning,” concludes Dr Jyotsna Jha, Education Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Schooling processes’ refer to all that happens in a school from the ways in which teachers treat their children to the language that is used including teaching methods and distributions of tasks.
These findings appear in a paper titled ‘Is school really a change institution? – Gender analysis of schooling processes in secondary schools’.
The study’s main objective was to analyse the classroom and outside-classroom processes in a few secondary schools from a gender perspective.
This was done in order to understand whether classroom and school processes question or reinforce the dominant unequal gendered notions and stereotypes; how they question or reinforce the existing notions and stereotypes; and what are the likely solutions if schooling processes are found to be reinforcing the dominant gender notions and stereotypes.
The study found that almost all teachers viewed girls as being more responsible and hard working compared to boys, and believed that there is nothing wrong in giving all care responsibilities to girls both at home and in school.
It also learned that subject choices continued to be gendered, such as maths being considered ‘masculine’ and languages as ‘feminine’; that girls and boys sit separately almost everywhere; and that although the aspirations of girls were high, they could not achieve them because of the subjects they were allowed to do.
Dr Jha’s paper is part of a collection of pieces published in ‘Commonwealth Education Partnerships 2008/09 - Education in the Commonwealth: Towards the MDGs’.
Other papers in this publication look at subject areas such as early childhood education, gender violence in schools, training for teachers, and the rights of disabled people in Commonwealth countries.
In his introduction to this publication, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma says these papers “serve to provoke thought and point towards innovative solutions and emerging challenges as we – as a Commonwealth – strive to achieve a quality education for all our children.”
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