DCU launches new educational resources to promote gender equality in schools

Gender Equality Matters: New educational resources to promote gender equality in schools

New classroom materials and training modules which aim to tackle gender stereotyping, gender-based bullying and gender-based violence in primary and post-primary schools have been launched by Dublin City University. 

Former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese, and DCU Chancellor, Dr Martin McAleese, supported the launch of these educational resources at a virtual event and welcomed the initiative, with Mary McAleese saying the project was “the best thing I’ve heard of for a very long time in children’s education.”

“I literally could cry with joy with what these children are going to experience in the classroom compared to the long way round that we had to experience it. This Gender Equality Matters programme is an amazing shortcut.”

Martin McAleese added that prevention is at the heart of this project and this is very commendable “this project ensures that children get the healthiest information.”

Led by Dr Seline Keating from the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU’s Institute of Education, the Gender Equality Matters project is funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union and comprises a collaborative partnership between 5 EU countries. It aims to raise awareness, build confidence and enhance capacity levels among children, adolescents, parents and educators in challenging attitudes and behaviours that undermine gender equality. 

The free of charge classroom materials are available in English, Spanish, Greek, Italian and Dutch. As part of the lessons, children will learn about: rights and equality; gender stereotyping; gender based bullying and violence; and how they can make a difference. As a class they will discuss people in the community that have made a difference and discuss the lives of influential leaders such as  Greta Thunberg, John Hume and Malala Yousafzai. 

Speaking about the project, Dr Seline Keating said: 

“Using an equality and rights-based approach and guided by an Advisory Group, we developed age-appropriate classroom materials for use in upper primary schools. These are grounded in the SPHE curriculum and school policies such as anti-bullying, wellbeing and child protection. 

We’ve been piloting these materials with over 1000 children in Irish, Spanish, Italian and Greek schools since 2019 and the feedback has been incredibly positive as no other resource of its kind has been available until now.”

Along with work in schools with pupils and teachers, the Gender Equality Matters project also provides training to parents in the schools involved, but also through parent groups such as parents’ associations, and national representative groups such as the National Parents’ Council.

Both Mary and Martin McAleese spoke about the importance of parental involvement being a key feature of the programme, whereby lesson worksheets encourage the children to continue discussing the lesson content at home.

“Children don’t come into the world with gender stereotypes. It comes back to the home and parental guidance is where it all starts. Parents need to become more and more aware..particularly how they engage with each other,” said Martin McAleese.

Mary McAleese added: “Parents are crucial partners in all of this. It’s essential to have this trialogue between parents, teachers and children. The circle of conversation between generations is central to the GEM programme – that it continues in the home, as well as in school, for children.”

It is hoped that these classroom materials will help schools when teaching about gender equality. They are free of charge and available to any interested school by visiting www.genderequalitymatters.eu or by contacting the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU.

Gender Equality Matters: Tackling gender stereotyping, gender-based bullying and gender-based violence is led by Dr. Seline Keating (Principal Investigator), from the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU. Seline is assisted by Dr. Bernie Collins, Mr. Derek Laffan and Ms. Sarah Hayes. The EU partner organisations are KMOP Social Action and Innovation Centre, Dr. Margarita Gerouki (Greece), Fondazione Mondo Digitale, Ms. Annaleda Mazzucato (Italy), University of Murcia Group of Research in Educational Technology, Prof. Paz Prendes (Spain) and the European School Heads Association (ESHA), Mr. Edwin Katerberg.