Gender Responsiveness for early childhood education in Quang Nam and Quang Ngai
Teachers trainded to implement gender-responsive play-based learning in their schools. Source: VVOB
Young children in Vietnam are exposed to gender roles and expectations. This early gender socialisation is reinforced in preschool environments (e.g. through gender-specific toys and gender-based activities). Particularly in the central provinces of Vietnam, inequalities due to early gender socialisation are among the most persisting equity issues, affecting both girls and boys.
Children start forming their gender identities at the age of 4. Addressing children’s early years’ experiences through gender-responsive play-based learning is crucial to impact their long term cognitive and social-emotional development, and to work on the prevention and elimination of gender inequality, a precursor to gender-based violence.
The Vietnamese government, preschool teachers and leaders show commitment to promote gender-responsive play-based learning but need support to achieve their goals. Parents and communities are not always aware of gender bias and its impact on children or are hesitant to change existing gender norms.
The Gender-responsive teaching and learning in the early years (GENTLE) project aims to transform preschools in central Vietnam into environments of gender-responsive play-based learning, involving parents (and fathers in particular) to the fullest in the process.
The project centres on developing the capacity of preschool teachers and school leaders to challenge social and gender norms, create new rules, and support children in adopting new, more equitable attitudes and behaviours. They are provided with tools to effectively implement gender-responsive play-based learning at school and to advocate for this approach at home too with the parents of their young learners.
Since October, Change Agents of the GENTLE project have conducted rollout trainings about gender responsiveness for 740 preschool leaders and core teachers of 148 preschools in 14 districts of Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces. Those activities will help eliminate gender stereotypes in all preschools in the districts.
In the upcoming months, VVOB and CGFED will cooperate with education leaders of local departments in the two provinces to support preschools in applying "Gender Responsiveness" in their class activities.
Gender equality in Vietnam has improved over the past decades, however, domestic violence and gender-biased sex selection as harmful practices for women and girls continue to remain in the country, and “son preference,” which is anything but a benign tradition, is a product of gender-biased systems which place higher social status to men and boys, and which favour male over female children.
However, the best way to eliminate backward thinking and prejudice is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing its root and structural causes.
Prevention should start early in life, by educating and working with young boys and girls promoting respectful relationships and gender equality. Working with children is a “best bet” for faster, sustained progress on preventing and eradicating gender-based violence and inequalities.