ToolkitPedagogical approaches


1. Pedagogical Approaches in the Classroom 

1.1. Gender-responsive pedagogy
Gender-responsive pedagogy refers to 'teaching and learning processes which pay attention to the specific learning needs of girls and boys.' (UNESCO Bangkok 2017). This approach includes materials, content, language use, learning activities, classroom environment and interactions, assessments, physical classroom layout, and supports.

Gender-responsive pedagogies call for teachers to critically examine gender roles and relations in the classroom and take action to address the specific learning needs of women and men. This analysis and implementation happen throughout lesson planning, design, teaching, management, and assessment using reflective practices and ongoing gender evaluations. Trainees will absorb not only the skills taught in the classroom but also the facilitators' attitudes, values and behaviours as industry professionals, making it vitally important that trainers know how they conduct themselves and interact with others in the classroom.

EDC-Kenya used a gender-responsive pedagogical approach to ensure a welcoming environment for women that addressed societal, cultural and economic barriers. This approach was embedded from the design phase and throughout the project to encourage reflective practices.

What is 'gender-responsive'?
There are different ways activities in a classroom or organization can be described by gender.

Why should we use gender-responsive pedagogies?
Women and girls face challenges within the school system that normalize deprioritizing their education, channel them into traditionally female-dominated sectors, place low academic expectations on women and lessen the recognition of women's academic or knowledge-based achievements. The lack of female teachers and mentors in math, science and business also means girls have fewer role models in economically advantageous sectors. 


Looking at gender in teaching and learning is a critical factor in successful education, training, and economic outcomes for women. In skills- and competency-based education and training programs, teaching practices are moving away from just transmitting knowledge and working on supporting trainees to engage the ideas, concepts and skills presented in the classroom. More than ever, training programs look at students through an intersectional lens to ensure curriculum and classroom activities close learning gaps and make pathways accessible. Compared with traditional models that put the burden on students to fit into the education system, learning is now better understood as a holistic, student-centered process.


Finally, gender-responsive approaches are not just to meet the needs of female students but also to identify the needs of male or other students who face challenges accessing learning opportunities. During the gender and situational analysis, the EDC-Kenya team found entrepreneurship training and digital literacy were especially needed among male refugees. Additionally, women reported that they were restricted by husbands or partners from engaging in activities outside of the home, highlighting a need to bring men into the conversation. Including a percentage of men in the training program and marketing allowed the program to reach not only women but also male members of the community to see firsthand the value of the program for the female trainees and bring those attitudes and values back to the community. This built support for female-led businesses and the vision of women as business owners and financial managers, even for household budgets.

(Adapted from Gender Responsive Pedagogy in Higher Education: a framework. International Network for International Network for Advancing Science and Policy (INASP), 2020.)

Gender Responsive Pedagogy resources

UNESCO STEP: Skills and Technical Education Programme 

United Nations Girls' Education Initiative  Gender Responsive Pedagogy in Higher Education: a framework. International Network for International Network for Advancing Science and Policy (INASP), 2020.

1.2. Trauma-informed Pedagogy EDC-Kenya was not designed to be trauma-informed; however, the nature of the project requires a sensitive approach to addressing complex situations refugees face. Instructors found being sensitive to trauma and responding empathetically and flexibly helped students engage with the class. When designing programs, organizations should engage with experts in working with refugee populations with trauma-informed teaching and learning techniques. The following points are some considerations consolidated from the literature. • Adults and children experience higher rates of psychological disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (30.6%) and depression (30.8%) (Im et al., 2018). There are numerous legal, cultural, gender, linguistical and psychological barriers to accessing services and treatment for these conditions, and most refugees are not granted the time to heal before they must start seeking economic stability. Evidence has shown that interventions must be trauma-informed to lessen harm and be effective and sustainable for refugees. 

• As the symptoms of PTSD increase, there is a correlating decrease in learning acquired in the classroom (Söndergaard et al, 2004). Traumatic stress negatively impacts different brain networks, such as the salience network, which allows humans to determine what to focus on; self-regulation; and executive network, which controls thoughts, emotions and behaviours (Yehuda et al, 2015). Classroom learning requires strong cognitive functions such as the capacity to focus and sustain attention, and working and long-term memory, which is needed to notice, retain and apply new information between classes and in practice. 

• Besides impacting learning, traumatic stress can cause different classroom behaviour displays, including anxiety, panic, heightened startle reflected, restlessness, lack of emotion and demotivation. It's important for instructors to recognize these behaviours stem from an exaggerated fight-or-flight system activation that was cultivated as a coping mechanism or protective strategy during times of distress, and they are not a conscious decision by the learner to be disruptive or unmotivated. These behaviours may also change from day to day. 


Attention tasks: Supporting the learner to regain control of attentional brain networks, which may fluctuate between responding too quickly or displaying inattentiveness. 

• Selective Attention Tasks: When the target concept is used, such as a term or definition, and combined with a psychical stimulus, such as raising a hand, writing a number, etc. This approach may help to break a hyperarousal response as the learner is forced to shift attention.


Memory strategies and tasks: Helping learners encode new information from working memory to long-term storage. 

• Teacher strategies: Allow for extra processing time after giving instructions; give instructions through different modes, such as orally and visually; allow time for reviewing instructors; break instructions into management chunks and recall previous instructions throughout the task. 

• Errorless learning: Guessing or eliciting answers for new topics risks encoding wrong answers. Instead, instructors should give answers and then ask for recall. 

• Spaced retrieval task: Repeat comprehension tasks throughout a lesson. Gradually increase the time between the question. This task activates both attention and memory functions.


Mindfulness: Mindfulness activities can be helpful but should be used appropriately. They should promote emotional balance and healthy release of potential stress, which can settle the automatic nervous system. Mindfulness activities should avoid visual imagery techniques and focus on present awareness. Read more here about how mindfulness and trauma-informed teaching may not always mix well.

• Sources:

Im H, et al. Trauma-Informed Psychoeducation for Somali Refugee Youth in Urban Kenya: Effects on PTSD and Psychosocial Outcomes. J Child Adolesc Trauma. 2018 Jan 2;11(4):431-441. doi: 10.1007/s40653-017-0200-x. PMID: 32318166; PMCID: PMC7163889.  

International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Trauma and mental health for forcibly displaced populations. 2018. 

Open Learning Initiative, 2021. Trauma-Informed Teaching and Learning for Refugee Education Initiatives.   

Tips for Teachers during Times of Trauma, Spring Institute.   

Trauma-Informed Advising, Teaching & Learning: Strategies for Building Resilience Inside and Outside of the Classroom, System for Adult Education Basic Support (SABES), 2016.

Why Mindfulness and Trauma-Informed Teaching Don't Always Go Together, 2019.  

UNHCR. Stress and Trauma Guidebook.

2. Gender Equality Strategy

EDC-Kenya followed the Fund for Innovation Transformation's Gender Equality Markers. As a Gender Transformative (GE3) project, gender equality was the principal objective. The key concepts of EDC-Kenya's gender equality strategy were based on FIT's guidelines and were:


• Aim to contribute to advancing Gender Equality (GE) in the Global South by supporting the testing of innovative solutions that are gender responsive and seek to empower women, girls, and vulnerable communities.

• Be guided by Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy and the Whistler Principle to Accelerate Innovation for Development Impact.

• Ensure GE involves women, girls, men and boys; a gender-equal society ensures fair and equitable distribution of power, influence and resources in society and uses every individual's experience, skills, and competencies.

• Be impacted by social and cultural factors.


Ongoing studies inform the integration of gender and gender inclusivity of women and men enrolled in CAPYEI's BEST Model Training Program, including entrepreneurship. The results from these studies can be found in CAP YEI's publications. 


Three factors shape the empowerment of women and girls: 

• Agency, capacity to take action and pursue goals free from the threat of violence or retribution.

• Resources, tangible and intangible, that they own or use to exercise agency.

• Structures, institutional structures or social arrangements, both formal and informal rules and practices that shape women's/girls' ability to express agency and have control over resources.


The overall focus of EDC-Kenya is to promote the economic empowerment of refugee women by increasing incomes and reducing poverty by creating online business opportunities and peer-to-peer linkages. Several systematic barriers have significantly impacted refugee women's ability to participate in economic opportunities fully. These include:

• The inherent instability of government policies surrounding refugee status and freedoms.

• Sociocultural factors preventing women's economic empowerment in self-employment.

• Gender gaps within Kenya and the refugee population. 


The online and flexible nature of the course delivered through low-tech learning platforms overcomes access problems and adapts to women's responsibilities. Processes for the involvement of local women and organizations are embedded throughout CAP YEI's BEST model. Initially, they shared entrepreneurship and labour market information in the market scan that advised course offerings, relevant skills and livelihood opportunities. They were also involved in curriculum development, validation processes and mentorship through guest lecturing, exposure visits, and on-the-job/business skills training. CAPYEI took deliberate action in identifying women mentors that support women in their careers and otherwise as guided by the policies. The monitoring and evaluation system follows a participatory-based approach where the voices of women refugees are reflected throughout the process. A local Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) expert was engaged to help CAPYEI in their professional gender mainstreaming in the entire project cycle.



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