» A teacher creates a vibrant learning environment for girls in Ethiopia
25.07.2017 - Education Sector

A teacher creates a vibrant learning environment for girls in Ethiopia

©UNESCO/Demissew Lemma

Teachers are bringing positive changes to girls’ lives in Ethiopia through the UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education, which is aiming to improve the knowledge and skills of more than 10,000 adolescent girls.

Ms. Simret Getaneh (photo center) is a teacher at Yirgalem Primary and Secondary School in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples Region (SNNPR). Passionate about her work, she is trying hard to bring positive change towards gender equality in her school. “I believe all boys and girls are equal in learning, provided they are supported and treated equally,” she says. “I teach Mathematics, and I have been planning all my teaching activities to fulfil this principle.”    

Teachers are at the heart of the strategy to ensure quality education for girls and empower them with key life skills, but they need the right training and skillset. To achieve this, a project led by the UNESCO Addis Ababa Liaison Office as part of the UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education is training teachers in gender-responsive pedagogy for an inclusive, gender-responsive and favourable learning environment for boys and girls.

The project is implemented through three higher learning institutions, which are mainstreaming gender-responsive pedagogy in teacher-training courses. By establishing linkages between higher learning institutions and project schools, teachers meet the favourable conditions to develop their own initiatives. As a result, they are devoting their time and energy in engaging girls in active gender-responsive learning, communication and decision-making.

When Simret’s school was included in the project, she was chosen to be a project team member, and she took part in the Gender-Responsive Pedagogy training organized by the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (UNESCO-IICBA) in July 2016. Following the training she immediately encouraged girls, particularly from rural villages, to engage in gender-responsive learning activities, and she witnessed remarkable changes. She also participated in school-based project activities, such as gender equality training for girls, organizing school clubs and creating a safe learning environment, reaching over 1,200 girls.

At the Review and Joint Planning HNA consultation workshop in April 2017, Simret shared her experience: “I am fortunate to have been included in the project team. This gave me the opportunity to boost my skills. I now have the courage to assist girls at school, and build their confidence in learning and life skills. Through the support of this project, I hope that all female teachers take part at the level of my expectations and we create meaningful changes in girls learning and lives”.

The project in Ethiopia is setting the right foundations for its success: by building the skills of energetic teachers such as Simret, but also by involving them in the project team so that such experiences are shared between the different project schools and beyond, and by taking actions to sustain and replicate good practices.

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