October 5th is World Teachers’ Day and this year it is under the theme of “TEACHERS FOR GENDER EQUALITY”. Therefore, in September, the staff at the Hampaté Bâ Middle School in Niamey, Niger had two training sessions on Gender Equality in Classrooms. Teachers were asked to kick off the school year by creating an inviting classroom environment and work at being intentionally inviting both towards boys AND girls.
The Training Program provided teachers with opportunities to examine their own gender sensitiveness, to reflect on their own lives as men or women, and to develop gender-equal teaching strategies. This is a very demanding exercise for teachers who are accustomed to following traditional methods automatically without thinking about gender disparities. A real challenge indeed!! The change in attitude starts with the teachers, their realizations and their beliefs! They are the ones who can set the scene for change and start making a difference in gender equality through gender awareness.
They all agreed that once school starts on October 6th, teachers would observe one another in the classes and, among other things, would provide each other with the ratio concerning the number of female students they called on during the class as compared to the number of male students called upon. This would be a first step towards raising awareness of any gender disparities that were made between the girl and the boy students.
Teachers were also made aware of the fact that they often do not pay enough attention to gender specific needs of girls as opposed to boys inside the classroom. For example, girls who have been socialized not to speak out and to look up to boys for leadership, require teaching methodologies that will encourage the girls to express themselves and participate equally with the boys. Both the girls and the boys need to realize that girls do have a voice and a value. It is the teachers’ role to slowly bring girls into the limelight and make them aware of their worth. Teachers were encouraged to use positive reinforcement and group work to encourage engagement among the assumed to be shy girls.
It was also decided that practical execution of science experiments or dissection of animals and insects should not be left to the boy students only!
“"After this program and as a math teacher, I was forced to acknowledge the disproportionate amount of time and attention I give to the boy students in my class. From now on, I will try to pay more attention to the girl students." Hamidou Saley, a seven-grade teacher at Hampaté Bâ.
Les Amis de Hampaté Bâ Organization fully supports the exceptional Teacher Training program at Hampate Ba Middle School as being one of the best ways to improve education of the young students. Our philosophy is that the school needs to start the process of change with the teachers, who can give the example to the students, in order for the gender equality project to be truly effective.
Through specialized and innovative training, the teachers will become aware of the importance of gender equality and be convinced that it is a key factor in making a difference in the learning abilities of the girls. This is the way to pave a road towards the students and for the teachers to transmit to their pupils their strong belief in the potential of girls students and the respect they have for them. A new type of relationship between the teachers/students will be established which will put girl students at ease to participate and give them an opportunity to express themselves, both academically and as human beings.
Thank you very much for your help and support. It is thanks to your generous donations that we are able to support the Teachers in these projects that span a full spectrum, sharing a common commitment to innovation. Your support of the Teachers is inevitably helping the students to get a quality education, where girls are valued by their teachers, by boy students, by the community, and by themselves. By supporting Teacher Training, you are making a difference in these students’ lives and giving them a chance to reach their potential !