We are speaking primarily about teachers, those providing instruction or education, but keep in mind that educators, also include the administrators of education and those involved in planning or directing education. So we have: teachers, teachers’ assistants, tutors, parents, guidance counsellors, Principals, Superintendents, Trustees, Directors and Ministers of Education… . And consider that often the greater number of positions, the greater the chance of divisiveness, and the fewer the positions, often the larger the barriers and boundaries.
Delivery of education in communities, regions, states/provinces and countries can vary immensely. For example, in Canada, parents have to make sure their children get an education. Provincial and territorial governments set up and run their own school systems. They are much the same throughout Canada, but there are differences among provinces and territories. In fact, within a province there are differences from region to region, city to city and the electoral boundaries within a city. Vietnam, on the other hand, has a much simpler state run system of public and private education, run by the Ministry of Education and Training, which is divided into 5 levels: preschool, primary school, secondary school, high school, and higher education. Their formal education consists of twelve years of basic education – comparable to grades 1 - 12. In 2015, Vietnam’s first OECD-PISA test (PISA’s most recent), their 15-year-olds scored higher in reading, math and science than many developed countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. You must read “Vietnam's 'stunning' rise in school standards” written by Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director of education and skills. The systems are different, but the results are similar to Canada’s.
There are a number of global organizations that in their work on gender equality are also setting global standards for educators (teachers to Ministries), especially for the undeveloped and underdeveloped countries and regions. You will find up-to-date links to their websites and reports throughout this site. To learn more about what these organizations are doing for K-12 education and gender equality, here are a few with links: UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations), UNGEI (United Nations Girls Education Initiative), GPE (Global Partnership for Education), UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund), OECD - PISA (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)-(Programme for International Students Assessment).
UNESCO points out that every education system is only as good as the teachers who provide the hands-on schooling and that study after study has confirmed their critical role in improving education quality and learning outcomes. Where primary education systems do not exist or are in their early stages and rapidly expanding, teachers rarely meet minimum qualifications and standards. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) data, in 31 of the 96 countries with data after 2012, less than 80% of primary school teachers were reportedly trained according to national standards in 2014.
However, we must be mindful that meeting national standards does not guarantee teachers of quality. When teachers have been university educated and trained in teaching (the requirements in most developed countries), their standards can reach high levels, but they can also be disturbingly low. Would you expect your primary or secondary level teacher to have a grade 6 Math skill level? This does happen and in developed countries with university educated teachers. (Elementary teachers’ weak math skills spark mandatory crash courses, Toronto Star, May 13, 2016, Louise Brown). Teachers are also fettered by their Principal’s, Board’s, Ministry’s and Government’s policies and budgets. Unions also restrain teachers’ enthusiasm – with such Union statements as “It’s not in the contract, so you are not allowed to do it!” or teachers’ responses such as “It’s not in the contract, so why should we do it!”.
Around the world, across countries and regions, undeveloped to developed, teacher quality is relative to the education of the educator, and the creativity and curiosity encouraged or restrained. FLiAP’s purpose is to be there for all teachers, to help the entire spectrum, from the self-taught to the summa cum laude graduates. Think of FLiAP as an enriched educators’ digital library. Not only can you find global articles, studies, ideas, methodologies, but FLiAP also will be creating materials such as career e-magazines, helpful webinars and blogs from experts in industries, and will be encouraging like-minded groups from around the world to exchange their ideas, discuss their challenges, relate their successes and failures, and to share them on this website for the benefit of all, when appropriate. In addition, FLiAP will connect teachers to industries, industry associations, companies, colleges, universities and organizations who can help them help their girls realize and achieve their goals. Teachers cannot teach what they do not know, understand or are unaware of. And if educators do not have the materials, or know where to find them, or have the time to look, then they are disadvantaged and thus are their students. As long as a teacher has access to the Internet, FLiAP does not want any of them to be disadvantaged.
FLiAP is about changing the status quo of the next generations of women. FLiAP starts by educating the educators. Women account for a majority of primary school teachers in most countries and regions. (In Canada, 84% of the Primary school teachers are women.) Although the secondary teaching force is evenly divided among males and females, this situation is slowly changing with women increasing in numbers. (In Canada, 59% of the secondary school teachers are women.) Both male and female teachers need to understand the reasons for the inequality of the sexes and how much of the discrimination and stereotyping is due to unconscious bias. Both boys and girls will benefit from quality teachers, but if teachers are unaware of their unconscious biases, the girls will continue to suffer. FLiAP is about the girls.
The girls’ self-image starts before they enter school. As the parents are the first to influence and can be part of the problem, we must start with the next influencers, the teachers, and as soon as they start school.
Around the globe, the teachers have their challenges. The World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education, UNESCO 2012, provides a detailed global picture and explains that although substantial gains have been made in undeveloped, underdeveloped and developing countries, access is still the single most important cause of disparities against girls in the pursuit of primary and secondary education. Organizations like Plan International Canada, which is a member of a global organization to advance children’s rights and equality for girls, has been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and is active in more than 70 countries. They are heavily involved in girls’ education.
But girls also face in-school disadvantages in forms that include biased treatment (conscious and unconscious), harassment and sexist stereotypes in behaviour and educational content – this is universal, although perhaps more subtle in developed countries.
In the underdeveloped and developing countries, one important factor that contributes to girls’ success in school is the presence of female teachers who can serve as role models and send powerful messages to young girls. Female teachers can also make classrooms seem like safer and more inviting places for girls and young women and, in the process, encourage them to continue their education. However, the women’s own unconscious gender biases counter many of the benefits.
Gender Bias: Women teachers, especially in poorer countries, are not necessarily very aware of gender equality concepts, and are often subject to the same gender assumptions, discrimination and even sexual harassment and abuse that girls face in schools. A study in Pakistan also raises awareness about the fact that the unconscious attitudes and assumptions of women teachers towards boy and girl students may also reinforce gender stereotypes.
Unconscious bias is alive and thriving in developed countries too.
Study (August 2011) Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration discusses many possible factors contributing to the discrepancy of women and men in STEM jobs, including: a lack of female role models, gender stereotyping, and less family-friendly flexibility in the STEM fields.
A recent article “Gender-Science Stereotypes Persist Across the World” (May 18, 2015 - Northwestern University) discusses a new Northwestern University study “Women’s Representation in Science Predicts National Gender-Science Stereotypes: Evidence From 66 Nations” that includes data from nearly 350,000 people in 66 nations. This study, the largest of its type, shows that people associated science with men, and in all 66 nations studied.
A recent study "Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interest", by Lin Bian, Sarah-Jane Leslie, and Andrei Cimpian (January 27, 2017) had two major findings about children's perception of brilliance:
Girls’ Education – the facts (UNESCO – Education for All Global Monitoring Report, October 2013)
The bottom ten countries for female education
Examine the chart below and see if you are surprised by the 10 countries around the world where no more than half of poorest girls enter school, and which of the 10 countries where nine out of ten of the poorest young women have not completed school. And then think about the difference if teachers of the girls, each had a computer with internet access and they could get on the FLiAP website. It could open the world to the teachers and the girls. Imagine the difference it could make. For their own safety, they may need to keep it a secret, but what a secret and what hope it can bring them.
In October 2016, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has released the first-ever estimates of how many teachers are needed to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. In the next 14 years, countries must recruit 68.8 million teachers to provide every child with primary and secondary education: 24.4 million primary school teachers and 44.4 million secondary school teachers.