Thinking Outside the Gender Box: Part 2

We met Fidele, a teacher from Rwankuba School, at our first Gender Responsive Formative Assessment (GRFA) training in December. We were impressed by his openness to learning the importance of girls’ education and reassessing traditional mindsets that hinder girls from learning.

He shared with us how he will combat gender bias, develop strategies to ensure girls succeed in their learning, and empower them to exceed their potential. Read his powerful words below.

What will you do to support every child in your classroom?

“Before answering that question, I would like to thank Wellspring Foundation for supporting us with this workshop. There is a mindset shift in all of us because of it. What we have learned will help us support our colleagues who were not able to be part of this workshop. One of the many things that I will do is support other teachers in my school. I want to teach them what I have learned from this workshop to understand the importance of ensuring every child is cared for in the teaching and learning process. There is a lot my school can work on when it comes to inclusive education, gender equality, and the importance of girls’ education.

Personally, I need to improve on how I interact with students in the classroom. I want to engage boys and girls in my classroom so that they can all feel comfortable and equal. I want to treat all students the same so they feel safe and that they belong in the school.

In this workshop, we have seen that all children can learn, boy or girl. On our first day of training, I quickly realized the impact gender bias had on my leadership and the student’s learning performance. Before, I would separate boys and girls in my classroom. There are questions I would ask girls and others I would ask boys in the classroom. I can see that I was doing things in my classroom that might have negatively impacted my students. I am looking forward to changing my seating chart so that boys and girls sit together. As a result, they can learn from each other and share their ideas. Now, I want to create an environment in my classroom that is warm and inviting for girls and boys. 

One other exciting thing I am looking forward to doing is teaching my students all I have learned. I want to show them that they are all equal. They all can learn and succeed to their full potential. Before, there was a traditional mindset that hindered girls from learning certain subjects. Science is for boys, and literature is for girls. Sharing what I have gained from this workshop will help students and teachers understand that girls can study sciences and succeed and that boys can learn literature and language and succeed. Above all, I want to provide all of my students with equal opportunities to learn and exceed their potential. I believe they all can. 

I will also share examples of other girls and women who have been successful despite the different gender boxes society places them in—like the girls I know who have become engineers, doctors, and professors. As well, I will remind my students that the top-performing student at my school was a girl in these recent exams! By sharing all this, I know the girls will be encouraged and empowered to be what they want regardless of what society says.”

Understanding the Importance of Girls’ Education

Stories like Fidele’s are just one example of how Wellspring is working to combat gender-based discrimination in education. Now, the old way of thinking is retreating into the shadows, and mindsets are shifting to see girls as more than just wives and mothers. Girls are leaders in the classroom and are receiving top grades! 

Through this GRFA training, Wellspring is helping schools and communities recognize the importance of girls’ education. We see value and potential in each of these young women. We see the doctors, engineers, and professors they will become when given the opportunity to receive a quality education. And, with our training, teachers like Fidele, schools like Rwankuba, and communities across Rwanda are starting to see this too. 

Will you join us as we launch this program across more schools in Gasabo District?

This is part two of a three-part series.  Read part one here: