Gender Friendly Schools Indicators

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The International Roundtable [IR] organized jointly by the Commonwealth of Learning [COL], The Commonwealth Foundation [CF] and The Commonwealth Secretariat [CS], with Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), as the local organising institution, at Bangalore, India concentrated on issues emerging mainly from South Asia. The Millennium Development Goal [MDG] 2 envisages achievement of universal primary education; within which it targets for 2015 to get all boys and girls complete primary school. Similarly MDG 3 undertakes to promote gender equality and empowerment of women within which it targets elimination of gender disparities in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005 and by all levels by 2015.

Fifty one Commonwealth countries are committed to work towards the achievement of all MDGs by 2015, with 41 of them having also endorsed the Dakar Framework for Action on Education for All [EFA] . It is evident by now that significant region of the world: among them some important Commonwealth countries of South Asia are not likely to achieve these specific MDGs by 2015. In order to achieve gender equality in education, opportunities for and equality of access to education should be made available to girls and boys. Within the school, they should have the feeling and sense of equal treatment too. It is either difficult or impossible to provide these in a qualitatively bad educational process. Therefore all children should be able to receive an education of good quality. Then only will both boys and girls be able to make use of their learning to build up meaningful and useful lives. If quality education is to be provided irrespective of gender differences and if girls are to make use of access to and opportunities for education, there has to be institutionalisation of non-discriminatory practices. In other words, number of social, cultural, economic and political factors which restricted women’s participation have to be overcome and women have to be empowered to play an equal role in education as well as society.

The specific context in which the RT focused on Indicators of School Quality is obvious. Since the RT emphasized the South Asian experience, the enormity as well as diversity of issues that are to be faced in each of the countries of the region and also within each sub-region was naturally discussed. Such a discussion led to the need for context specific indicators. It was argued that schools themselves should develop and use indicators rather than outsiders forcing them to do so. Nevertheless it was agreed that there could be multiple users of the indicators. The need for building a uniform set of indicators that can be used across countries not only of South Asia, but elsewhere too, was also stressed. In this specific context three space-based contexts to develop indicators were agreed upon. They were; physical space, socialization space and learning space.

Some other important points were also discussed initially. The question whether quality of education and gender-sensitiveness are conflicting or complementing factors was raised. It was felt that such questions arise from deep-rooted gender-unfriendliness which is rampant in patriarchical societies. It was also indicative of the difficulties involved in attempting to evolve gender-friendly indicators in a gender-unfriendly society. Gender-friendly values, skills and behaviour patterns are likely to contradict socially accepted value-systems including family-based behaviour patterns.

Indicators of School Quality: Towards Gender-Friendly Schooling Environment

Process Indicators : draft indicators developed at the International Roundtable, Bangalore - (March 26-29, 2008)
Revised Process IndicatorsPDF down.png. This is a chart of all indicators developed at the Roundtable for inside and outside the classroom and can be use to start the process of further refining indicators with the four stakeholder groups in your community.

Next Steps

The first step for participating schools, community based institutions or NGOs working with communities is to review and amend the list above.

What is recommended is to develop one list each for each of the four groups of key stakeholders: teachers and school personnel; students; parents; and school management committees/ boards.

A number of the indicators may be the same for each of the four groups, but each group should have their own set of indicators

  1. A few focus group discussions could be held with these groups individually in your community. They can review the checklist of indicators, selct the indicators relevant to the, and add a few more if needed. It is only necessary to have a few indicators to start with. Selecting 5-7 indicators to start is a good idea, but definately, not more than ten.
  2. Once the draft checklist is made for that group of key stakeholders, the list could be shared with other stakeholder groups for feedback and changes could be made, if desirable.
  3. Now, you want to test out the indicators. Sharing results frequently with teachers and others as needed, it is a good idea to start finding out if these indicators are useful. Make changes and discard, amend or develop new indicators as needed. A core group from each stakeholder group should meet with some frequency.
  4. Test the amended indicators and make further changes until the groups are confident that they have useful, measurable and workable indicators.
  5. Share indicators more broadly with more people in the school system and community for further feedback. Share with other schools.


Report of the international validation workshop [IVW] on gender friendly school indicators [GFSI] held at the institute for social and Institute for Social and Economic change [ISEC], Bangalore, 3-4 November, 2008.
Report of the international validation workshopPDF down.png.

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Tips for SMART Indicators

SMART indicators should be Specific, Measurable,Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.