IF YOU find a word problem in your child’s Class III maths textbook that talks about gender equality, don’t be surprised. It is just a new way adopted by the education department to impart value education to children studying the state board syllabus.
Minister of Education Fauzia Khan said sensitising students on gender equality is one of the most important issues that has been kept in mind while designing the curriculum. “The new syllabus has a range of topics in value education, including health, civic sense and ethical behaviour. But the maximum importance has been given to gender issues. There are a lot of things happening in the country due to less awareness about gender equality and related topics. This needs to stop. Hence, we have decided to introduce such topics in the revised syllabus of all subjects in all classes,” said Khan.
This does not mean that it is just the students who are trained in such topics. Teacher training too has been initiated that will try to change their mindset, especially those in rural areas, said Shakuntala Kale, Joint Director, SCERT.
“There has always been a bias when it comes to assigning various tasks in schools. Tasks such as decorations during a programme, making rangoli etc are given to girls whereas hard tasks are given to boys. We are trying to change this through training. When the students are young, their physique is the same, whether they are boys or girls. It is just bias that makes us assign easy tasks to girls. But students begin to think that there is a difference between boys and girls. This has to change,” said Kale.
“We try to train the teachers to divide the tasks equally among boys and girls. Secondly, we ask them to make co-ed groups during sports activities. Similarly with roll numbers; instead of a girls or boys list, we have asked them to make a mixed list in alphabetic order or whatever parameter they choose. We have also asked them to make boys and girls sit together,” added Kale.
In the coming academic year, new textbooks for classes III, IV and V will include these changes. Maharashtra state bureau of textbook production and curriculum research, Balbharati — that makes textbooks from classes I to VIII — has made sure that even science and maths books have enough content about value education.
“In maths, apart from wording, the problems in a way sensitise students. We have also given various pictorial representations to give out a clear message of gender equality and related topics. Even teachers have been asked to discuss these topics,” said C Borkar, director, Balbharati.
This year, CBSE implemented this policy and even the board exams had at least two-mark questions in all subjects on topics relevant to value education. Khan said if the same topics are taught to students again and again from a young age, it will get ingrained in them, which in turn will make them better citizens. “Languages always had such topics. But now history, physics, maths and every such subject will have these topics. This will be reflected in the type of questions asked in the exams. Gender sensitisation is the need of the hour,” added Khan.