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2019 | 6(1) | 9-27

Article title

Identifying and overcoming barriers to gender equality in Tanzanian schools: Educators’ reflections



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This paper reports on an action research study that took place during a one-week professional development course focused on establishing gender equality in primary schools, held in a Teachers’ College in Southern Tanzania (June/July 2015), in which 28 educators and administrators participated. I draw upon Sarah Ahmed’s (2005) theoretical framework of gender orientations to explore understanding of gender. A feminist, participatory, action research methodology using multimodal methods (Jewitt, 2008; Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001) was used to collect and analyze data. Highlighted are salient aspects activities and discussions in which the participants engaged concerned with constructions and orientations of gender, and gender-based oppression, violence, and discrimination and how these impact girls’ education. I also report on participants’ personal and professional knowledge, understanding, and insights into barriers to, and opportunities for gender equality and their proposed approaches for bringing about change through initiatives they articulated in the gender-responsive school action plans they began to develop. Findings indicate that despite the participants’ interest in learning more about gender constructions and orientations – conceptually as well as practically – and the implied expectation from policies than educators essential in bringing about transformative change leading to gender equality in society, the participants had had little, if any, exposure to policies, initiatives, resources, or professional development to guide and support them. Recommendations including provided professional development opportunities in gender-responsive pedagogy and programming at all schooling levels, and to include educators’ voices, as experts of their own contexts, in future policies, programming, and initiatives.



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