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International Women’s Day 2022 – Let’s #breakthebias in schools and in the classroom

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International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of March every year across the globe celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. This year #BreakTheBias was a trending hashtag creating the thought around imagining a world where there is gender equality, free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.

As much as there is a strong call to action to break the bias and we know what the existing problems in the classroom are, it is important to set the tone for learners in the classroom to instil values from a very young age. Every individual carries a unique attitude and belief with them that may very often affect their understanding of a situation, how they interact with other people and how they make decisions. If there is bias attached to these the outcome will always be a negative one or just simply hostile.

In today’s day and age, it is so important to actually be upfront about issues and talk about them as bias manifests in many ugly shapes and forms, especially when it comes to gender. Have conversations in the classroom about current issues and get learners’ views on what they think. This is the opportunity to start a healthy conversation around different beliefs and people’s viewpoints and how to respect each other when it comes to a situation that you might disagree on.

Anti-bias training in schools can also help shift the focus on the effect of what people say or do, rather than trying to analyze the situation why they might have said or done something – assumption is a very large root of evil. We are all guilty of always defending what we do or say, but case and point – if something had a negative impact, especially in a classroom environment, students can feel unsafe and that they do not matter if things are not addressed correctly. Prevention is always better than cure. Schools need to have one goal in mind and that is to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to learn and grow in a healthy, happy environment, regardless of their beliefs or who they are as individuals.

Hilario Benzon, a manager in NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Department has described anti-bias training as looking at situations as both windows and mirrors. When looking in a mirror we often reflect and it can be personal and interpersonal and we can scrutinise how our own bias and actions can affect others. When looking out the window we can examine all external factors like racism as an example and how this could affect individuals and how to deal with controversial issues in the correct manner.

At the end of the day, there are many forms of training and various tools that we can implement in the classroom, but it is so important to check our egos at the door as well. We all need to get past our own fragile egos and focus on how it affects other people. Students need an example and teachers need to be that example and create the impact that is needed to #BreakTheBias. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but a step in the right direction is better than no step at all!

International Women’s Day 2022 – Let’s #breakthebias in schools and in the classroom


Inge Liebenberg




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