Case Study 2: Classroom Assistants in Sierra Leone and Guinea
Research indicates that the relationships between girls and women in schools are not necessarily simple. To understand the complexity of the relationships between the CAs and the girls, we have to consider the CAs' own gender-related experiences, self-perceptions and priorities.
Female teachers often have a lower status than male teachers and may be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. CAs, serving as assistants to the teachers, may have an even lower status and thereby may have increased vulnerability in the classroom. CAs' responsibilities include: ensuring the students' attention, tidying up the classroom and preparing teaching aids. In general, they are not considered as important as the teachers. Some teachers said that the most important role of the CAs was to maintain order in the classroom while teachers stepped out to go to the bathroom! It is also very clear to the students that the CAs do not have the same status as the teachers. Some of the CAs spoke of the rudeness that they have to cope with from disrespectful students. Nevertheless, CAs have the potential to go beyond their perceived roles and provide crucial psychosocial support for students, helping to protect them and bolster their well-being.