Building peace in the minds of men and women

Strengthening gender responsive pedagogy for STEM in Uganda

22 May 2019

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In Uganda, girls are particularly under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. There is low enrolment, poor performance, and high numbers of dropouts. In 2014, a government report revealed a severe drop between 2009 and 2014 in the percentage of girls passing biology and mathematics examinations. This gender gap reduces the number of women who pursue STEM careers. For instance, currently less than a third of science researchers in Uganda are women.

Although the Ugandan Government has put measures in place to address this gap, such as the 2018 Gender in Education Policy, the performance of girls and women in national STEM examinations continues to be poorer than that of boys and men. Gender bias amongst teachers remains prevalent and is a significant barrier to achieving gender equality as teachers play a pivotal role in setting norms. There is now a push in Uganda to provide continuous professional development for teachers to improve their teaching quality, gender responsiveness, and inclusiveness, especially in STEM.

The Capacity Development for Education Programme (CapED) is supporting Uganda with this commitment by developing national guidelines on how to implement gender responsive pedagogies. This is in line with Uganda’s new National Teacher Policy, which was developed with CapED support, and launched in April 2019. The guidelines provide teachers with basic knowledge of gender concepts and equip them with the skills they need to use these pedagogies in teaching and learning activities, such as lesson plans, activities, and classroom layout. This will enable both girls and boys to fully participate in STEM learning, improve their performance, encourage them to pursue scientific subjects, and potentially support them in their careers. The guidelines also focus on governance and curriculum and detail the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, as well as how to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the pedagogies.

Developing the guidelines involved holding consultations with relevant stakeholders such as schoolteachers and school heads. The document also incorporated the Forum of African Women Educationalists’ (FAWE) training model on gender responsive pedagogy, designed to help teachers and school managers explore gender issues in school and classroom settings.

In November 2018, the guidelines were developed and piloted by training 94 primary and secondary school science teachers in the use of appropriate gender responsive pedagogies and up-to-date STEM teaching skills. The next step will take place in May 2019, when CapED, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Sports, among other partners, will strengthen the capacities of approximately 478 STEM teacher educators on the implementation of the gender responsive pedagogies. Looking ahead, the guidelines will be officially published for wider dissemination.

CapED Uganda: Improving the quality of teachers in Uganda through teacher policies, professional frameworks, social dialogue, and gender responsive pedagogy.