Gender-responsive pedagogy for Technical Vocational Education and Training will enhance Women’s Economic Empowerment

Gender-responsive pedagogy for Technical Vocational Education and Training will enhance Women’s Economic Empowerment

By Evans Nyagwara

Teachers and school leaders in technical and vocational Education and training (TVET) prepare all learners to the needs of society and decent work. There is need to have an equitable access to education which is context-specific and relevant. Any form of discrimination should be removed. The teaching and learning should be friendly and a balanced approach should be promoted. The education methods should be sustainable and result orientation to ensure learners acquire a critical level of skills. Therefore, there is need for a gender-responsive pedagogy in school. This will ensure that all the gendered discriminations are lifted so that both men and women benefit equitably. The marginalization of women leads to many countries losing out on the possibility of utilizing the potential of this human capital. This human loss for the local community, but also for national development and growth, puts increasing pressure on governments to improve gender equality, especially with regard to women’s enrolment in male-dominated technical and vocational education and training (TVET) courses. In addition, the emancipation of girls and women through TVET, with a view to allowing them to enter the labour market and thus to contribute significantly to their family’s income, is a key contribution to poverty alleviation.

Today, TVET is regarded as an instrument in creating new employment opportunities and income-generating activities in the formal and non-formal sectors of the economy, the need for which has become more acute due to the financial crisis. TVET can play an important role in economic development and poverty reduction if due attention is given to customizing or targeting education and training provision to local needs. Traditionally TVET was regarded to be a provision reserved for the male gender. This belief has resulted in serious omissions in national government development plans where women are given a raw deal. Consequently, most of the TVET facilities such as dormitories are planned without taking into consideration the female gender. Coupled with this cultural belief among most of the communities in Kenya, Research indicates that women are discouraged from enrolling for vocational career training opportunities.

Research evidence also shows that when individuals are equipped with skills, they become entrepreneurs, employable and informed citizens thereby contributing to the economic development of a nation. Therefore, human resources through TVET not only contribute to economic development and reduction in unemployment but also leads to enhancement of social inclusion. It is estimated that women total to half of the world’s population. Additionally, they represent two thirds of the world workers but ironically earn one tenth of the world’s income and own one hundredth of property.

Going beyond the traditional bricks and motor approach, there is need to expand female participation in formal labour force by creating opportunities and helping local partners, breaking down societal barriers to the entry of women into the formal work force (Malala). Teachers and school leaders in TVET institutions have a role to play in ensuring that all approaches and methods of delivery are gender responsive for gender equitable benefit from such training.

The existing gender inequalities in TVET institution is also ascribed to the existing “hidden curriculum”. The concept of ‘hidden curriculum’ is based on the recognition that a student absorbs lessons in schools that may or may not be the formal course of study. For example, how they should interact with other races, tribes, gender, peers and how they should perceive different groups. Hidden curriculum refers to the unofficial, unwritten and often unintended lessons, values and perspectives that student’s learn in school.

In Kenya women and girls are progressing steadily in education system. But they still encounter challenges. While Kenya government has created policies that offer equal opportunities to all, it has not paid enough attention to how policies are converted into action. The gender gap in primary education is not as wide as in higher education. Of the 85% of learners who progress from primary to secondary school, 30% proceed to higher education in Kenya, including TVET institutions. Research indicates that women account for a third of the total enrollment.

There is therefore need to re-evaluate the pedagogy to ensure gender equality in access and benefit to and from these institutions.

Click here for details of the study on Integration of Transferable Skills into Basic and TVET Levels for Employability of Women in Kenya

The writer is an intern at the KU-WEE Hub



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