Introduction of G.A.T.T Gender Awareness Project

The Gender Awareness Through Theatre (GATT) Project aims to eliminate gender bias and discrimination within classrooms of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions throughout Mongolia. Using innovative pedagogical methods, students and teachers actively participate in transforming scenarios discrimination into examples of inclusivity. This is the first project of its kind and scale to be implemented in Mongolian TVET institutions.

An Interactive Pedagogical Approach

Created by Brazilian theatre director,  Augusto Boal, the Theatre of the Oppressed is no ordinary theatre; it allows spectators to become spect-actors who play a direct role in changing the situations of discrimination that are presented to them. Young drama school students – GATT trainers – present a situation that is based on stories of discrimination shared during previous focus groups. Students and teachers from the TVET school are then invited to suggest solutions by acting them out and changing the skit entirely! Having to be creative and come up with their own solutions, they may choose to change dialogue or to create a new character altogether!

Gender Bias and Discrimination in the TVET sector

Gender stereotypes are strongly entrenched within Mongolian society, and TVET classrooms are no exception. Large pressures are put on men and women to fit those stereotypes. “Be a man” or “Because you are a woman…” are all too familiar phrases for students and teachers, as focus groups held in March (2017) have shown. As a result of these stereotypes, men often receive much less support in their education, thus leading to a reverse gender gap.

Young men have higher drop out rates than young women, making young men the most vulnerable group in rural Mongolia, according to the UNDP’s 2016 Human Development Report. Yet, despite higher levels of education, young women are still more likely to be unemployed than young men (see graph on the right). The reason for this? Women are encouraged to stay home to take care of their families whereas men are encouraged to become the main breadwinners*.

 

 

Step I: The Baseline

In order to prepare plays that reflect realities of gender bias and discrimination in the classroom, 6 focus groups were held with 55 students and 29 teachers in 3 TVET institutions in Ulaanbaatar. % of respondents were women. To receive a third party perspective, 11 Peace Corps volunteers shared their views through an online survey sent to the entire volunteer network working in schools in various regions of Mongolia.

 

“I would never ask a girl to do a big physical task and I would never ask a boy to do something  meticulous because they are each etter at different things. But now boys are becoming strange. […] Nowadays boys use make-up and sometimes I scold them: ‘Be a man! Why are you wearing make-up?’” (Focus group result)

The man should be proud like a horse (khiimor suld) and do great tasks. The spirit is affected by household chores” (Focus group result)

Whenever we do a training, [my counterpart] usually keeps the girl students behind to sweep/clean the classroom” (Peace Corps Volunteer)

 

Step II: The Training of Trainers

14 students, 7 men and 7 women, from the Movie Arts Institution formed a team of GATT trainers following a full-day training of trainers. In teams of four, they then proceeded to create their own workshops with the guidance of the two GATT imple-mentors. 2 multi-media students from the Mongolian-Korean Polytechnic College also participated in the event. They were given full creative control in documenting the next steps of the projects, including the production of videos that were distributed through social media.

Step III: The Workshops

Full-day workshops were offered at 5 TVET institutions in Ulaanbaatar, Darkhan city and the province of Dornod, reaching a total of 90 students and 52 teachers.

Most of the students and teachers were surprised by the practicality of the workshops. They were not participants who received information on how to be change agents. Instead, they were placed in a role of change agents as soon as they stepped into the room. The workshops were organized as such:

  1. Student-focused theatre workshop
  2. Teacher-focused theatre workshop
  3. Student + Teacher Playwright workshop
  4. GATT Trainers’ De-Briefing Session

It was my first time being a trainer and conducting a workshop myself. The students and teachers were so open and free to communicate.” (GATT Trainer)

 

Step III: The Workshops

Teachers and students got together to write a play on gender discrimination situations that had greater impacts on them. By June 10th 2017, the 5 TVET institutions had shared what they learned with an estimated 800 people.

“We have noticed that some of our teachers have now started talking about gender in our classrooms. Now, they ask us all to clean, girls and boys.”  (IET student, evaluation session after final play, May 16, 2017)

GATT aims to raise students’ and teachers’ awareness of gender-based discrimination by exploring gender stereotypes in school through participant-created skits, and helps participants identify positive solutions in the process.

GATT’s results, next steps, and sustainability in the long run were discussed on May 18 by project facilitators and funders Uniterra Mongolia, VETP, STVET 1 of the European Union, and CVT project of GIZ, and Skills for Employment project by Asian Development Bank. All attending organization representatives expressed their interest to collaborate again for the project’s next phase.

Project Implementation Unit:

Implementors:

UNITERRA Mongolia, VETP

Sponsor:

STVET-1 project, EU

In-Attendance:

Movie-Art Institution

Competency Based Education Center NGO