Gender bias in Punjab: Humanities stream for meritorious girl students only, not boys

Strongly criticising this “biased” approach in education, Dr Tarlok Bandhu, principal, Khalsa College of Education, Muktsar said, “This approach will further strengthen the notion in the society that humanities is an inferior stream and meant only for girls.”

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Updated: June 19, 2017 6:12 am
gender bias punjab, humanities stream, Parkash Singh Badal, no schools for boys The humanities stream is not on offer for meritorious boy students at any of its ten senior secondary residential schools opened specifically for government school children. (Express)

IN A MOVE that may be seen as strengthening and promoting the ‘notion’ that humanities stream is meant only for girls, the Punjab government is not offering humanities stream for meritorious boy students at any of its ten senior secondary residential schools opened specifically for government school children.
The residential meritorious schools, opened by former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, offer free education for government school children in Classes XI and XII scoring more than 80 per cent marks in Class X.

The residential meritorious schools, opened by former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, offer free education for government school children in Classes XI and XII scoring more than 80 per cent marks in Class X.

The only school offering humanities at Talwara in Hoshiarpur with 100 seats is meant only for ‘meritorious girls’. On the other hand, the nine other schools at Ludhiana, Bathinda, Mohali, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Patiala, Ferozepur and Sangrur offer science and commerce only for both boys and girls.

So, the boys scoring more than 80 per cent marks have no option to select humanities at any of the ten schools.
Colonel Kashmir Singh, head of the ‘girls’ only school at Talwara offering humanities said, “Personally, I believe that there should be no gender bias and boys too can study humanities. I cannot comment on why this school was opened only for girls. This was a decision taken at government level.”

Strongly criticising this “biased” approach in education, Dr Tarlok Bandhu, principal, Khalsa College of Education, Muktsar said, “This approach will further strengthen the notion in the society that humanities is an inferior stream and meant only for girls.”

“Education is aimed at complete development of an individual. It can only be attained if the students, irrespective of their gender, are offered and allowed to opt for the streams as per their interest, aptitude and attitude. If students’ options for studying subjects of their choice are restricted or ceased, the very purpose of imparting education is defeated. The whole move to make the option of humanities as gender specific is irrational, arbitrary, undemocratic, unfair and against the personal psychological orientation of young minds. The issue should be seriously re-looked by the government. How can we promote humanities as girls only stream? The boys have excelled in various professions like journalism, education, geography, culinary, fashion designing, literature among others,” questioned Sandhu.

“This step of the government is only reinforcing the obsolete mindset that boys scoring more than 80 percent should not even think of selecting humanities. Commerce and science should be their only option. This is not only biased but obsolete and stereotypical approach for education in state,” said Harpreet Dua, senate member and fellow Panjab University, Chandigarh.

Maj Gen (retd) KAS Bhullar, project director of these schools, said, “There is no harm in boys studying humanities. But we do not have any provision currently in ten residential schools. It was a decision taken at government level when schools were opened.”

Punjab’s Education Minister Aruna Chaudhary said, “There should be no gender bias in education. I wasn’t aware of it that boys are not being offered humanities in residential schools. We will be working on it and offer humanities for boys too. Whether they opt for it or not is up to them but it will be offered.”

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