MUT takes a giant step towards a Gender-Responsive curriculum

MUT and LondonMet staff. Seated, from left, Maxine Asante, Dr Mariam Akinlolu, Marva de la Coudray, all from LondonMet; and Dr Manyane Makua, Acting DVC: Teaching and Learning at MUT

It is often argued that striving for perfection is responsible for human progress, a point that was articulated by a German Sociologist, Max Weber.  Welcoming attendees at a two-day workshop held on 22-23 April 2024, Dr Manyane Makua, the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, described the event as a “vital workshop focused on creating equitable learning environments through gender-responsive higher education curriculum in the built environment. In today’s educational landscape, it is paramount that we examine and update our approaches to curriculum design to reflect the diverse needs and perspectives present within the built environment sector”.

The workshop was a collaboration between Mangosuhtu University of Technology (MUT)  and the London Metropolitan University (LondonMet) and was sponsored by the British Council and the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

The organiser of the workshop, Motheo Meta Tjebane, from MUT’s Department of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying, said the workshop titled: Imbizo for Gender-Responsive Higher Education was focused on advancing gender equality in the Built Environment sector through gender-responsive education and digital skills development. Tjebane said the sessions, led by experts from both MUT and LondonMet, were designed to address biases in the sector and create equitable learning environments for all students, irrespective of their gender.

Tjebane and other facilitators from LondonMet made it clear that the main goal of the workshop was to create a curriculum that would be inclusive and principles and values-based. According to Tjebane, participants critically reflected on relevant issues that would lead to achieving equitable learning environments, upon their inclusion into the curriculum. The bottom line was that curricula are supposed to take a lot of issues into consideration, and be fair to all, a situation that Tjebane described as reshaping curriculum and teaching strategies for greater inclusivity and gender sensitivity.

The LondonMet has gone some distance in putting together such a curriculum. One of the facilitators, Marva de la Coudray, Director of Teaching and Learning, Centre for Teaching Enhancement, said to achieve the desired justice, LondonMet had put together the Education for Social Justice Framework (ESJF). De la Coudray and her LondonMet colleagues, Dr Mariam Akinlolu and Maxine Asante, guided MUT staff and students in constructing a similar framework suitable for MUT.

As far as Tjebane is concerned, the framework should encourage the University to scrutinise existing curricula for gender biases and gaps and promote “a more equitable and inclusive academic environment. This introspection leads to curricula that are better aligned with the needs of a diverse student body, enhancing the educational experience for all students”, Tjebane said.  It is expected that in the job market, MUT graduates will stand out for their holistic, socially informed perspectives, which will give them a competitive edge. “Moreover, the University can build a reputation as a progressive Institution that fosters diversity and inclusivity, attracting partnerships, funding, and talent. Ultimately, by embedding ESJF principles into its practices, MUT can propel itself towards a more just and equitable future in higher education and beyond,” concluded Tjebane.