Belgium invests in Gender Equality for Preschoolers in Africa
Development organization VVOB – education for development has developed a toolkit that empowers preschool teachers to challenge gender stereotypes in Africa. VVOB can rely on the support of the Belgian Development Cooperation.
International studies have shown that at the age of seven children have already adopted gender stereotypes. Unconsciously stereotypes can sneak into a teacher’s learning approach and language use. That can happen, for instance, by making statements like “strong boys don’t cry” and “what a sweet little princess you are”.
These ideas on what it means to be a man or a woman can have harmful consequences for children’s further development, especially for girls. That is why VVOB wants to start challenging these stereotypes already at a very young age. They do this by means of the GRP4ECE-toolkit (‘gender-responsive pedagogy for early childhood education’).
Concretely, the toolkit offers practical advice and tips for teachers on how to tackle gender stereotypical behavior and ideas in a playful manner. Education can play an important role in the formation of gender stereotypes, says Sven Rooms, general manager of VVOB. “Armed with our toolkit, preschool teachers make sure our children are spared from limiting gender stereotypes and can develop their full potential.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo fully supports the initiative: “Too often gender stereotypes stand in the way of the empowerment of young girls and women. Children are often unconsciously pushed into a certain field of studies, a certain profession, a certain income. This consolidates inequality and discrimination. By using the VVOB’s toolkit we can challenge harmful gender stereotypes from a very young age. In this way, girls will truly be given equal rights.”
The toolkit has already been shared with 400 policy makers in South-Africa. First, it will be used in Zambia and afterwards on a larger scale in Africa.
VVOB – education for development provides support to Ministries of Education in Africa, Asia and South-America in order to improve the quality of their educational systems. The VVOB is co-funded by the Belgian and Flemish government, the European Commission and other international donors.