University professors to fight sexist education

AGonzalez

A project by two local colleges for teachers (Enrique J. Varona in the capital city and José de La Luz y Caballero in Holguín province) and the Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency (AECID) has sought to introduce the gender approach into higher education. This came from Alicia González, head of the Gender Chair at the college in Havana.

"We realized that the gender perspective had not been properly considered in curricular development and that male-chauvinistic and sexist practices were commonly seen at campuses," she told SEMlac.

She submitted a paper along these lines at the 1st Iberian-American Congress on Gender, Education, Health and Human Development.

Such a fact had been previously corroborated by the Ministry of Education under a project entitled Formal education and responsible sexual behavior. Financed by the United Nations Population Fund, the project involved junior high school students in several provinces.

It revealed that acts of gender violence and early pregnancy cases had occurred mostly due to lack of information and education.

Anabel Naranjo, a Holguín university professor, indicated that 90 percent of respondents in a survey had said that the way to teach boys and girls should always be different. "Girls are expected to study much more than boys," they emphasized.

Against this background, training courses for 40 college professors, brainstorming sessions for 120 students, and individual guidance services were organized in the two provinces.

Women accounted for 87 percent of students and 91 percent of professors involved in the survey. It is a fact that women make up most faculty members in Cuba today.

"We decided to introduce a new subject matter (General Teacher Training) into our curricula," Naranjo emphasized.

"The idea was to apply the gender approach in a holistic manner and cover not only sex education, but also sociology and communication," she added.

"The project has exceeded our expectations", González stressed. "We have trained 345 professors (291 women and 54 men) and 565 students (410 women and 155 men)," she commented.

"We now have two well-equipped classrooms for training courses, workshops and other gender-related activities, one at each college," she announced.

"We also have two offices for individual and group guidance services, and have published several books and brochures," she indicated.

"The project has made it possible for students and professors to improve communication skills and fight acts of sexual violence and discrimination," González noted.

"Most survey respondents highlighted the need to further introduce the gender approach into educational processes," she concluded.

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