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Title: Gender-Responsive Pedagogy for Early Childhood Education – GRP4ECE
Location: KwaZulu-Natal Province
Timing: 2020-2021
Budget: € 908,358
Donor: Belgium
Sector: Early childhood education

  • Professional development of teachers (INSET) and school leaders;
  • gender;
  • equity.


Research shows that the concept of gender takes shape between the ages of 3 and 7. By the age of 7, gender identities form and stereotypes become set. Early childhood education (ECE) therefore holds exciting potential to develop in learners a gender-sensitive view of self and others, impacting on their (self-) expectations and the choices they make in their lives, for themselves and others. In other words, gender-responsive pedagogy in early childhood education could be key for young children to develop to their full potential according to their unique and valuable talents and interests, irrespective of their sex.


While the number of children enrolled in pre-school in South Africa has increased significantly in recent years, many children do not benefit from age-appropriate quality preschool education provision. Very often, caretakers in ECE centres and preschool teachers lack the practical skills, experience, and concepts to provide play-based early childhood education. While gender-responsive ECE can play a crucial role in reducing gender inequalities, many early childhood teachers do not know how to deal with these stereotypes in their classrooms and very often reinforce them unknowingly through their teaching practice.


ECE school leaders and teachers have the competences to create and promote gender-responsive pedagogy (GRP) in play-based teaching and learning environments.



The GRP4ECE programme aims to develop and test a South African approach to gender-responsive early childhood education, based on the international GRP4ECE toolkit, developed by VVOB and the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and endorsed by the African Union and the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA).


The project is built around four pillars:

  • Contextualisation of the GRP4ECE toolkit;
  • Development of open educational resources;
  • Professional development on GRP for ECE teachers, school leaders and subject advisors;
  • Research on the effectiveness of the toolkit.

By the end of the GRP4ECE project

  1. The international GRP4ECE toolkit is contextualised for use in South Africa, through a highly consultative process that includes a wide range of stakeholders.
  2. All subject advisors in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, 72 schools and ECE centres, 180 grade R teachers and ECE practitioners and 108 school leaders will have strengthened GRP competences and will continue to develop professionally in professional learning communities.
  3. The South African education system will be informed by results and lessons learnt from external research on the effectiveness of the toolkit in the pilot schools and ECE centres.