News 2015

Promoting an equal voice for Bangladeshi rural schoolgirls as participants in authentic classroom videos

Answering questions in class and joining in with pair work and educational games is a great way to reinforce your learning. Yet many girls don’t have the confidence to raise their hands. And frequently, even if they do, they are ignored in favour of boys.

At UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week 2015, Clare Woodward and Mike Solly, academic leaders for The Open University on the English In Action programme, showed video of classroom practice in which teachers from the EIA project give girls in Bangladesh ’s rural classrooms the confidence to speak out.

Attended by over 1,000 participants from more than 70 countries, this year’s conference (co-hosted by UN Women) explores how we can use mobile technology to promote equal opportunities and access to learning. Research by UNESCO indicates that when girls receive an education they marry later, have smaller and healthier families, acquire the skills needed to get and succeed in a job, and much more. Yet in some low-income countries, for every ten boys in school, there are only seven girls (Fiske, 2012, for UNESCO).

The English in Action programme, funded by UK aid from the UK government and led by BMB Mott MacDonald, was developed to help improve the English language skills of 25 million Bangladeshis using communicative learning techniques – learning by talking. Yet when filming video clips of authentic Bangladeshi classrooms to use in innovative audio-video materials for teachers professional development, the programme discovered that girls were extremely eager to participate actively in the filming.  By working within the girls’ comfort zone, filming with their class teacher, keeping their classes as they were (either mixed or single sex), and encouraging them to engage in the classroom activities, the girls’ confidence and enthusiasm visibly increased.

English In Action has since gone out of its way to focus on mixed and girls’ classrooms, promoting equitable gender awareness and the opposition of negative gender stereotypes. Girls are actively encouraged to get involved in the production of gender-sensitive teacher professional development.

This innovative and gender-equitable approach has already attracted much interest from a wide range of projects and institutions involved in the delivery of teacher professional development (TPD). Clare and Mike aim to carry out further research into the girls’ attitudes to participating in the filming and build a sustained community of interest in using video to promote gender equality.

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English in Action programme is a UK Government
funded programme implemented by the
Government of Bangladesh and managed by
Cambridge Education, a member of Mott MacDonald.