In a groundbreaking initiative, the British Council, under the English Connects programme, undertook a transformative mission to champion gender-inclusive practices in Sub-Saharan Africa. Led by consultant trainer Donna-Marie Fry, the project aimed to empower a cohort of 41 dedicated teacher educators and teachers from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Sudan. This dynamic group referred to as the GLE Team expressed a keen interest in completing the British Council's online 'Gender in Language Education' course, setting the stage for a comprehensive exploration of gender-responsive pedagogy.
Building a Cohort: Training and Development
Carefully selected for their commitment, the project participants underwent a two-day hybrid training session focusing on developing teaching tips aligned with gender-responsive pedagogy. This foundational training also delved into creating resources aimed at challenging gender stereotypes and supporting girls' learning—a critical step toward fostering an inclusive educational landscape.
Online Learning and Collaboration
Initiating their learning journey in November, participants engaged with the 'Gender in Language Education' online course. The course provided a flexible learning environment where participants identified various gender biases and stereotypes in language education.
Mentoring for Transformation
The dedicated project WhatsApp group emerged as a vibrant space for mentoring and discussions, serving as a hub for reflection and resource-sharing. The mentoring approach prioritised transformative over transactional interactions, encouraging critical reflection and contextual application of newfound knowledge.
Hybrid Workshop: Turning Theory into Practice
The culmination of theoretical learning occurred in a two-day hybrid workshop held in December 2022. The workshop seamlessly blended theoretical concepts with practical application, with participants collaboratively evaluating and developing gender-sensitive language education materials.
Designing Teaching Tips and Classroom activities
Post-workshop, participants translated their insights into actionable teaching tips and activities. The collaborative effort resulted in 20 teaching tips and 21 gender-sensitive activities across language skills. Feedback loops enriched the content, reflecting the diverse experiences and contexts of the participating teachers.
Gender representation in Teaching Materials webinar
In March 2023, six participants took center stage, co-delivering a well-attended regional online webinar on 'Gender Representation in Teaching Materials.' Presenters received remote support to prepare impactful presentations, showcasing their research, experiences, and actionable insights. The webinar, attended by up to 172 participants, served as a platform for robust engagement, with attendees submitting comments and questions throughout.
In the spirit of collaboration, empowerment, and continuous learning, the British Council remains committed to fostering positive change in classrooms across the region. The impact of this journey resonates not only in the materials developed but also in the minds and practices of educators dedicated to creating equitable and inclusive learning environments.