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5. Case studies
Gender Equity Movement in Schools (GEMS): India and Viet Nam
Since being piloted in 45 schools in Mumbai with 12–14-year-olds over two years, GEMS has been implemented and evaluated in Jharkhand, Bihar and Maharashtra states in India and in Viet Nam. In Mumbai, one group of participants was exposed to an awareness-raising campaign alone. The other group also received 24 classes on gender equality and preventing gender-based violence. In Jharkhand, students received the classes and a workbook to continue their learning at home, and were exposed to a community awareness campaign.
In Mumbai, the proportion of students believing girls should be at least 18 (the legal age) before marriage reached nearly 100% (though baseline figures were not reported). Among those receiving group lessons and an awareness campaign, the proportion of girls believing they should delay marriage until the age of 21 increased from 15% to 22%. Students involved in classes and an awareness-raising campaign were 2.4 times more likely to oppose violence than those in the control group, falling to 1.5 times for those who took part in the awareness-raising campaign alone.
In Jharkhand, the GEMS curriculum had a positive impact on around 3,000 students in 20 schools, with a large proportion moving from the ‘low’ category for gender equality attitudes to the medium and high categories. Similar results were seen in Danang, Viet Nam, where students aged 11 to 12 in 10 schools moved from medium to high commitment to gender equality. In both India and Viet Nam, student attitudes in other schools did not change significantly.
The Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT): Latin America
The Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT) or Tutorial Learning System is a formal, co-educational secondary education programme (grades 7–12) in rural and peri-urban areas of several countries in Latin America. It helps students take charge of their own intellectual and spiritual growth and contribute to building better communities.
One distinguishing feature is the integration of the principle of gender equality into the curriculum, encouraging critical thinking and dialogue on cultural norms. The textbooks use a bird metaphor to portray men and women as two wings that must have equal strength if the bird is to fly – imagery retained by students and teachers during the programme and beyond. Discussions on gender allow students to question their assumptions and recognise inequalities in their own lives and communities. SAT students also take on productive projects such as raising chickens, developing practical skills they can use in their daily lives.
SAT has been recognised as a ‘revolutionary’ approach to secondary education in rural areas because it is relevant to the context in which students live. By combining high-quality academic content and opportunities to apply their learning in practice, students become empowered to take action that can improve their lives and their communities. One new feature of the programme in Honduras, for example, involves lessons that challenge students to identify the causes of child marriage and early pregnancy and design a community-level campaign to challenge social norms on these issues.
The SAT programme was designed in the 1970s by, the Fundación para la Aplicación y Enseñanza de las Ciencias (FUNDAEC), a Colombian NGO. It now operates in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, and as a non-formal education programme Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. A study by Kwauk and Perlman Robinson (2016) for the Brookings Institution found that its slow, incremental and demand-led expansion was crucial for its successful scale-up, helping to ensure its quality.
The Taaron Ki Toli programme: India
Designed and implemented by global human rights organization, Breakthrough, Taaron ki Toli (TKT) (Gang of Stars) is a gender equity programme. Launched in 2014. TKT began by operating in 150 schools with around 18,000 adolescent girls and boys in four districts of Haryana, providing a safe platform for adolescents to take part in decisions that affect their lives. The programme started with a tri-party agreement between implementation partner Breakthrough, J-PAL South Asia (the research partner), and the Government of Haryana’s Department of Education. The pilot programme, backed by a rigorous evaluation, was designed from the outset to be scaled up across Haryana.
Each school was guided by a teacher coordinator (‘Druv Tara’ - guiding star), who worked with Breakthrough facilitators to create enabling environments. Together the Druv Taras and Breakthrough facilitators helped to halt child marriage, ensure continued education for girls, prevent sexual harassment and create spaces for adolescents to assert themselves within their schools and communities.
Evaluation of the programme by J-PAL revealed its positive impacts on participants’ attitudes towards girls’ education, with an increase of positive attitudes of four-percentage points. Programme participants also reported more gender-equitable behaviour such as increased interaction with the opposite sex. Breakthrough scaled up the programme across the five Indian states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi as well as Haryana, reaching over 600,000 adolescent girls and boys. See our page on Taaron Ki Toli for more information.