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Educational Research for Social Change

versão On-line ISSN 2221-4070

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MAHADEW, Ashnie  e  HLALELE, Dipane. Challenging Gender Certainties in Early Childhood Care and Education: A Participatory Action Learning and Action Research Study. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2022, vol.11, n.1, pp.10-26. ISSN 2221-4070.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2221-4070/2021/v11i1a2.

For deep-rooted gender equity and social transformation, we need to challenge so-called certainties or dominant ideologies about gender. Many dominant ideologies centred on gender abound in society, and these need to be addressed at the earliest opportunity. Early childhood care and education (ECCE) refers to the care and education of children from birth to 4 years old, and this is an opportune period for teachers to examine and challenge certainties regarding gender. This article reports on a segment of a larger study on inclusion involving a virtual learning participatory workshop with six ECCE teachers and two ECCE teacher trainers that aimed to address a knowledge gap; ECCE research into gender is scarce in developing countries like South Africa. Due to the social distancing necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, all interactions were facilitated through the WhatsApp platform. The study employed a participatory action learning and action research (PALAR) design that focused on collaborative and contextually relevant learning and research. Data were generated in two iterative cycles using a baseline questionnaire, photovoice, reflective journals, and purposeful conversations. Data generated in Cycle 1 revealed that participants required greater awareness regarding their current views on gender and sexuality. Data revealed that members of the action learning set (ALS) required clarity on gender binary, heterosexuality as a dominant ideology, and on gender stereotyping. The ALS transformed their learning environments by addressing those concerns in Cycle 2. The findings in Cycle 2 pinpoint how the respective learning environments were transformed by challenging gender binary, heterosexuality, and gender stereotyping. This research serves to challenge certainties regarding gender. Knowledge presented here could lead to more equitable gender practice at the participants' respective centres, which may impact positively on wider societal transformation.

Palavras-chave : early childhood care and education; gender; certainties; participatory action learning and action research.

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