Challenging Gender Bias

At the end of 2021, we launched our Gender-Responsive Classrooms training, focused on equipping teachers with the skills to challenge gender bias in their own mindsets and classrooms so that all students—especially girls—were met with an education that is inclusive, welcoming, and supportive.

We have had the pleasure of walking alongside a group of teachers for two years to provide practical training and mentorship and have seen them transform through this training. Our team had the opportunity to chat with Teacher Eric from G.S. Rwankuba after he completed the module to hear his reflections and how this training has impacted not only him and his home but his classroom and community as well. Hear his thoughts:

“Before I the training in Wellspring’s Gender-Responsive Classrooms module, I heard people talking about gender on the radio and in newspapers, but I did not have much information about it. Through the training, I got more information about gender, and I learned the difference between gender and sex. I also understood how to integrate gender education into the lesson.

 I Can Help, Too

Personally, this training helped me to change. Before the training, there were certain domestic jobs I could not do because I thought that they are for women, not men. I believed that if people found me doing these jobs, they would laugh at me. After the training, I learned that men and women can do all domestic jobs. My wife would do all the domestic jobs alone while I was in the sitting room watching television or relaxing.

With this training, a lot of things have changed at my home, and I now help my wife with household duties. Now, I wash clothes, I cook, and I wash dishes. I also wash my children and apply body cream on their bodies, and they enjoy it. I do these jobs confidently, and when people find me doing them, I neither run away to hide nor feel embarrassed. This is very important for me because it has brought much happiness to my family; my wife and children are happy to see me doing domestic jobs. When my children see me cooking, they tell me they want to cook too. This is good because they will grow to do all domestic jobs and challenge gender bias and gender stereotypes.

In my community, during community work, I challenge gender bias and gender stereotypes when they arise and encourage men and women in my community to share responsibilities as both men and women can do the same activities.

Giving Every Child a Chance

Before I was trained and watched model lessons by the Wellspring trainers, I did not know how to integrate gender education into my lessons. Now, in every lesson, I plan questions that allow students to discuss gender roles, and through these discussions, I challenge gender biases my students may have and check if they agree that they are going to change. I also challenge gender biases and gender stereotypes found in textbooks and other teaching resources.

This has had a positive impact as my students tell me that they have started to do some of the jobs they could not do because they thought that those jobs were for boys or girls. Both boys and girls in my class sweep the classroom, lift desks and serve food at lunch. Some girls tell me that they want to be pilots. Boys and girls used to play separately, but now they play together.

In my classroom, I make sure that boys, girls and shy students are given equal opportunities to answer questions and give ideas. I encourage every student to share their idea without fear. This allows me to know the needs of each student and meet them.

This Training is Just the Beginning

We also share with our fellow teachers what we learnt in Gender-Responsive Classrooms training through Continuous Professional Development (CPD) we have on Wednesdays afternoon. We use this opportunity to encourage them to use gender-bias-free language, and we are seeing positive changes as teachers no longer use gender-biased language. They tell both boys and girls they are capable, can do the same activities and perform well in all subjects.

I thank Wellspring for planning this training for us because it has been very useful to us at school and out of school. We are role models in our daily life, at school, at home and in the community. We thank Wellspring, and we tell them to keep it up and think about other projects that can continue to enable teachers to teach each student well.