Girl Rising so very beautifully showed how girls even as very young children were sold to work the entire day on various tasks at another’s home: washing, cleaning, taking care of children and many more. It dramatized their thirst and hunger for learning. In the midst of this enslavement, girls dreamed of developing their skills and talents, and earnestly endeavored to get an education. Their brothers were the only ones privileged to go to school.
Various media reveal that in our country, the entire family strives to provide children with an education. While riding a PUJ, I overheard mothers discussing how they would make sure to be active in the Brigada Eskwela no matter how busy they were at home. We are very familiar with the brother who carried his brother cheerfully to school every class day. Various groups in our community are also exerting efforts so that street children can go to school.
When I visited the Dilaab office, I got oriented with our group’s work with street children. Every effort for them to be accepted and remain in school has been done. On Saturday afternoons, volunteers see to it that the children take a bath and are ready for tutorials.
But Philippine statistics show that there are more male drop-outs; more females are successful in school. More and more females are in demand in the workplace and succeed in getting higher positions. There is a gender-related background to all these.
An article by Jaileen F. Jimeno (www.pcij.org) with a very striking title, “Favored as Boys, Disadvantaged as Men” calls our attention to many provocative points. “In most Filipino homes, boys have it easier than the girls, who tend to be given more responsibilities, including taking care of younger siblings. Girls are also put under stricter forms of discipline, and likely to get an earful from breaking curfew even as boys are cut some slack since “lalaki naman sila at walang mawawala sa kanila (they are male and have nothing to lose)”.
The “favored status” lessens the capability of males to deal with the challenges of adulthood.
Jimeno also cites Project Y2001, a project commissioned by the Global Filipino Foundation and the Ateneo de Manila University and done by NFO –Trends. According to the study, “Boys are more favored than girls in the Filipino household. Males have fewer responsibilities, while the girls are cocooned, as parents are more strict and protective of them. While the boys spend more time with the barkada or peers after school, the girls tend to keep to the school-home route, with no other destination in between.”
What cause students to stop schooling? Both females and males said “lack of finances was the biggest reason”. But among the male respondents, the following were reasons given for quitting: “lack of interest (23 %) and non-acceptance, poor academic performance and bad conduct (9%). The females had none of these reasons. In fact a recommendation was provided to “the Jesuits who run the Ateneo to review and redirect the tradition and beliefs in bringing up boys to curb the number of those who grow up as ‘spoiled brats’.”
The relation between schooling and upbringing always makes me discuss the upbringing of Filipino children when I facilitate discussions on gender-fair education.
Educators can do a lot for both females and males if they are sensitive regarding gender issues. Perhaps we can reflect on what to do about what Myra Sadker, David Sadker, and Lynette Long say in “Gender and Educational Equality”: “Society socializes boys into an active, independent, and aggressive role. But such behavior is incongruent with norms and rituals that stress quiet behavior and docility.” The conflict in our country is between the demands of the school and socialization in the home – the happy-go-lucky pattern learned by males at home clashes with the required diligence and discipline needed in school.
The challenge of educators, facilitators of learning, those who “cherish our future” is making the transition. What will make little boys want to sit quietly to read. Schools are encouraged to have resourceful and dynamic communications male teachers as role models so that they will not identify reading, writing, speaking animatedly with being feminine, only for females.
Since gender needs to be integrated into the curriculum and gender-fair education implemented, there is a need to find out how our teacher training has been putting the gender issue into consideration.
Schools can also have an influence on the home experiences by working with parents through an active parent-teacher association with consciousness-raising sessions on gender issues and positive discipline.