Publication Date
Publication Date: 
October 1, 2015

This guide seeks to advance the global efforts toward greater gender equality and inclusiveness in education by providing guidance on how to develop and evaluate teacher and learner materials that are free of bias and that promote equality and inclusiveness of all marginalised, disadvantaged, and underrepresented groups. The guide can be used to evaluate existing teaching and learning materials across primary and secondary levels or inform the development of new materials.

As explained in the guide, “Teaching and learning materials play a central role in either perpetuating or transforming stereotypes. Through negative and often outdated stereotypes in teaching and learning materials, members of disenfranchised social groups (e.g., girls, children with disabilities, or ethnic and language minorities) are not depicted as powerful or central role models. Similarly, if members of privileged groups (e.g., boys or ethnic and language majorities) only see themselves depicted in specific occupations or in narrowly defined roles (e.g., occupational, but not familial roles), then this also limits their aspirations and future opportunities. Because teaching and learning materials have the power to either maintain the status quo in a society - thereby reinforcing stereotypes found outside the school - or transform them, more frequent and positive portrayals of characters from different subgroups in these materials can spur change by empowering individuals to see themselves and others in more positive and inclusive ways.”

The guide is organised according to themes that reflect a particular type of bias that should be considered when evaluating or developing teaching and learning materials. The four themes are as follows:

  • Equal frequency of representation (e.g., proportionate frequency of the representation in text of one group as compared to another)
  • Gender equitable and inclusive illustrations (e.g., the representation of non-stereotypical character traits in text illustrations)
  • Gender equitable and inclusive language (e.g., the use of alternating pronouns [“he” or “she”] to identify a character whose sex is unknown)
  • Gender equitable and transformational roles (e.g., the variety and types of occupations attributed to one group versus another).

For each theme, a brief summary of what is reflected in existing literature is presented, as well as the consequences. Sections also look at what to consider in order to avoid a particular type of bias, examples of bias-free representations, and checklists that can be used to evaluate existing materials for each type of bias. The Annexes also include tools for evaluating teaching and learning materials for equality and inclusiveness.

Two videos have been produced to explain the first two themes in the guide:
Guide for Strengthening Gender Equality & Inclusiveness: Theme 1 - Equal Frequency of Representation
Guide for Strengthening Gender Equality & Inclusiveness: Theme 2 - Illustrations

The guide and the videos were produced for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) by RTI International.

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