Gender Equality in Education

Sr. Gerardette Philips, RSCJ, , Ph.D. (Dosen Ilmu Filsafat)

Sr GerardGender is not just the issue of women; it is a people’s issue. ‘Femininity’ does not exist in isolation from ‘Masculinity’. The construction and power of one determines the construction and power of the other.

Our globalized world, poses challenges to our work of education: millions of people long to have access to the benefits of education; peoples and cultures desire that their identity and right to belong be recognized; the astounding speed of technological change, the struggle of women for equality in relationships in society and the relativizing of what is of permanent human and spiritual value.

How does an enquiry into gender issues contribute to a quality education? A sensitive understanding of Equality, Empowerment and Experience will be discussed briefly alongside the event of education through metaphysical causality. I hope these reflections help us understand the Goal of Education and enhance in an ‘e-age’ an ‘e-quality’ education!

Equality – The Material Cause of Education : The Student

The formal approach to ‘e-quality’ education questions the subordination of girls, and imposed pressures of ‘masculinity’ on boys.   In most countries, girls are circumscribed by a gendered socialization that differs across tribe, community and rural-urban divide; this results in the creation of differentiated aspirations, capacities, and levels of confidence. This is not simply concerned with equality in treatment, but equality in outcome, in the material cause, in the student, the beloved of God who is given a mission in the world that only she/ he can fulfill.

In the midst of chaos, youth today are drawn to spiritual activities. They have a passion for the future of the planet and desire to make a difference in the world. This means that processes of education have to be designed to ensure that students can enjoy and relate to teaching methods and academic orientation that empower them irrespective of gender.

Empowerment – The Formal Cause of Education: The Subject Matter (The Curriculum)

Empowerment refers to the process of gaining control over self, resources and decision making. While the empowerment of women does imply the loss of men’s traditional power and control over women’s bodies and lives, it also implies that men could be liberated from ideologies of oppression, false value systems and gender stereotypes. Ideally, empowerment should lead persons to become integrated human beings who use their potential to the fullest to construct a more humane society.

The formal cause of education, namely, the subject matter “…made up of the necessary, the eminently useful, and the beautiful in about equal measure’ is the increased focus on “the other,” the building of relationships, the bridging of differences, the virtues of respect, compassion, forgiveness, and generosity, we hope to model ourselves and to instill in those we serve. The curriculum has to harness all this energy to an education that includes the dimensions of global competence: the affective, active and academic.

Experience: The Efficient Cause of Education: The Educator

Experience, is about experiential knowledge. How representative is knowledge of the learners’ experiences of life? Does it address their needs and desires? Unless learners can locate their standpoint in relation to the contexts represented in textbooks and can relate this knowledge to their lived experiences of society, knowledge is reduced to a level of mere information. It is crucial to encourage reflection on what it means to know something, especially in a culture that is undergoing ‘constant transformation’.

For this the Efficient Cause of education are the Educators themselves. They need to be professionally competent – Wise saints and holy scholars! who take responsibility for rigorous intellectual formation, strong instinct for community, concern for the other, especially the disadvantaged, consistent character formation in freedom and above all a deep and abiding life of faith. Educators such as these will educate the whole person.

The End of Education: The final cause, the goal of education.

The end of education, in reality, is the establishment of the reign of God that leads us to believe that to have life, and life in abundance, is the deepest desire of God . Isn’t then education itself an act of equality? Doesn’t education instill in us a new spiritual vision of the universe and our equal place in it?