World Teachers’ Day
“Education is power” – Girl Guide teacher/trainer
World Teachers Day
Date: Monday, October 5, 2015
As a trainer and member of the Grenada Girl Guide Association, she will attend a workshop, supported by UN Women and Zonta International, from 17-23 October, along with 50 other trainers from around the world, to learn how to deliver the “Voices against Violence" curriculum co-developed by UN Women and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. She speaks to UN Women about the importance of non-traditional education, how she promotes gender equality as a teacher, and how she is using, and will use, education to combat violence against women in her country.
Question: How can education help us create a more gender-equal and sustainable world?
As once said by Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Sustainable development calls for planning methods and strategies to have all hands on deck, as everyone would have a part to play. Traditionally, girls and women have been a vulnerable group affected by gender inequality, deprived of their rights to an education. However, to achieve a sustainable world, this must change. Gender equality must be integrated at all levels of education, from early childhood to higher education, both in formal and non-formal settings. Sustainable development calls for lifelong learning for everyone.
Question: Why is non-formal education important?
Non-formal education is an essential instrument for life-long learning. This type of education gives young people the possibility to develop their values, skills and competencies other than the ones developed in the framework of formal education. It allows one to learn in different settings and environments, which is very important as not everyone is able to achieve their fullest potential of their educational journey in the traditional classroom setting. While some may quickly adapt to ‘chalk and talk’ (writing on the blackboard and speaking in class), others may gravitate towards the hands-on learning approach. Education could be interactive and fun and not only about reading books and learning by heart, but much more about knowing yourself and knowing the world. Being educated is a chance in life and this opportunity should be given to anyone in whichever form suits them best.
Question: How are you using education as a tool to promote gender equality and to end violence against women and girls?
Firstly, I am a technical drawing (architectural drawing) teacher—a field that has been dominated by men and almost seen as forbidden for women. So just being able to stand as a female technical teacher is a rewarding portrayal to students of gender equality. Secondly, by encouraging all students, both male and female, to get involved in the technical field and signing up to do my subject, I am showing all students that in today’s world, anyone can be anything they want to be, and that the field of architecture or engineering is no longer a male-oriented field. Yearly, I see more and more girls signing up for my classes, and achieving successful results and completion, just as my male students.
As a Girl Guide leader, I work with a group of 35 girls aged 11-16 in an ideal setting to promote gender equality and ending violence against women and girls. While the Girl Guide Association of Grenada has been involved in other initiatives on violence against women in the past, such as a walk and white-ribbon campaign to raise awareness, I am really looking forward to rolling out the “Voices against Violence” curriculum in my country. The girls entrusted in our care often face violence themselves or know of someone who has experienced violence. Many girls and young women accept gender-based violence as a norm of life. Voices against Violence curriculum gives us the tool to start important conversations about the root causes of violence against women and girls, and challenge gender stereotypes and normalization of this violence in our lives.
Question: How do you anticipate being able to use the curriculum to address violence in your country?
Over the past three years, our country has experienced some gruesome acts of violence committed against women. Having a curriculum of this nature to educate our girls on speaking out against violence would be a major benefit to the girls, their families, the school and country on a whole. On returning from receiving training on the voices against violence curriculum, I would be delighted to train other leaders island-wide so that all girls entrusted in our care would get the opportunity to benefit. It would help empower the girls. Teach them that accepting violence is incorrect and they should speak out about it, report it and seek further help in dealing with it. Education is power. The more we know, the more we would be able to prevent, and potentially eliminate violence against women and girls.
Question: What part of your role as a teacher is most important/rewarding to you?
Being able to help students reach their fullest potential is the most important and rewarding role for me as a teacher. This goes beyond just imparting knowledge and skills to the students and seeing them succeed in my subject area. It also includes being concerned with their general well-being as a student. It calls for being a listening ear, a role model, an advisor, a friend. It sometimes calls for going outside of your classroom walls and making the necessary referrals to relevant sources for additional assistance. But in the end, there is no greater joy as a teacher than when your student leaves your care and is able to be a functioning member of society and lead efforts that make this world a better place.