This is part 1 of a two-part blog series by CODE.
The United Nations General Assembly recently proclaimed today, January 24, to be the International Day of Education.
Education is pivotal to the achievement of all other Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and so, a day dedicated to celebrating education on a global scale is welcomed news. Poverty eradication, improvements in health and wellbeing, gender equality, peace and security – these all become possible when you have an educated population empowered with the skills they need to learn, think critically, and communicate effectively.
But, while tremendous progress has been made towards achieving the target of universal primary education, 750 million adults and 115 million young people still lack even the most basic literacy skills. Women and girls, in particular, account for two-thirds of all illiterate adults and 60% of illiterate youth.
As the SDG recognize, it is not enough to simply increase children’s access to education; when children arrive at school they also need high quality and relevant reading materials, well-trained teachers, and a supportive community that encourages both boys’ and girls’ to pursue their education.
Nowhere are the many, long-term impacts of a quality education more apparent than in the lives of women and girls. When women and girls are empowered to learn and succeed the results are astounding, impacting not just their own health and well-being, but also that of their families, communities, and countries.
But what does this look like in practice?
In Mozambique, CODE works with local partners, Associação Progresso and the Ministry of Education and Human Development, with the support of Global Affairs Canada, to deliver the Better Education Through Teacher Training and Empowerment for Results (or BETTER) project. With this project, CODE works in teacher colleges in Mozambique to improve the training curriculum and ensure that teachers are equipped with the tools they need to make a real difference in their students’ lives.
But, as is the case in many other countries all over the world, domestic violence, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and the unequal distribution of domestic chores are issues that still prevent many women and girls in Mozambique from accessing the quality education we hope to provide.
In response, CODE organized a series of workshops led by Canadian researchers from McGill University’s Faculty of Education in which participants learned how to use their cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices to create short videos called “cellphilms.” Participants wrote, filmed and starred in their own videos which addressed topics such as gender inequality in the classroom, sexual health and reproductive rights, and gender-based violence. When shown to their student teachers in Mozambique’s training institutions, these inspiring videos led to powerful classroom discussions that had teacher educators, student teachers, and school officials alike challenging their own norms, assumptions and behaviours.
These fun-to-create and easy-to-use tools proved to be a perfect example of how technology, and a little creativity, can help learners reflect on their own lives, increase community awareness about gender equality and sexual and reproductive health, influence educational policy, inform best practice, and most importantly, empower male and female teachers alike to serve as role models to each other and their students in the classroom.
Read part 2 for more on CODE’s work to help women and girls access quality education.
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