Akodo, a teacher at Ilee Primary School and a male role model trained by ACFODE, proudly narrates how he has made a positive change in the school in favour of girls.
‘During my first weeks in Ilee Primary School, I realised that during class hours girls sat separately from boys, girls’ participation in class was very minimal, out of fourteen school prefects, nine were boys and only five were girls in lower positions, and the work of smearing classes with cow dung and general cleaning was left to girls. Furthermore, some teachers were assigning school girls roles of fetching water for their homes, collecting firewood, washing utensils and babysitting the children of the female teachers during class hours. There was also the concern of reported cases of sexual harassment of school girls by some male teachers.’
During a staff meeting at the beginning of Term II, 2015, Adoko plucked up the courage to raise the issues before the head teacher and the teaching staff. He expressed concern that such practices contributed to high school dropout among girls, as well as poor performance. His colleagues disagreed with him, claiming that the girls were grown-up and should carry out household chores to train them to become better wives in future. ‘I expressed my disappointment to them,’ he continued, ‘and informed them of my role as a male role model in advocating gender-responsive socio-cultural practices in the school, as trained by ACFODE and endorsed by the district head offices of Apac. I also informed them that such acts that violate the rights of girls to accomplish their education are punishable by law and will be reported to the office of the Inspector of Schools for further investigation.
‘On realising how disappointed I was and that I was serious about reporting the matter to higher authorities, the head teacher passed a policy against such negative practices.He declared that the staff quarters were out of bound to all pupils and assigned me the role of sensitising the pupils and teachers to the need to eliminate all negative socio-cultural practices in the school, such as discriminatory seating arrangements in class, discrimination against girls who wish to take up leadership positions, participation of girls in class, sharing gender roles and assigning girls to perform household chores at teachers’ homes.
‘As a result, boys have started sharing desks and academic group discussions with girls. This has triggered competition between boys and girls. The positions of head boy and head girl were scrapped and were replaced with the position of head prefect which can now be contested by both boys and girl. Gender roles like smearing the classrooms and general cleaning are now shared among boys and girls. I give all the credit to ACFODE, who empowered me as an advocate for equal opportunities for both boys and girls and to eliminate all forms of negative socio-cultural practices in Ilee Primary School.’