Generations of school students have grown up with textbooks having the image of a mother cutting vegetables in the kitchen, while the father reads a newspaper, but this will now change in Maharashtra. Keeping up with the changing social structure, Balbharati, the state curriculum board, has changed many of its illustrations and texts to uphold gender equality and portray women in a more progressive light, officials said.
The revised textbooks aim to do away with gender stereotypes, they said.
The Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research, popularly known as Blabharati, wants to break the stereotypes and has incorporated illustrations and stories of men and women sharing household chores in the revised textbooks of Class II, a board official said.
In one of the illustrations, a man and a woman are seen cleaning vegetables while sitting next to each other. In an illustration, a woman is shown as a doctor, while another is shown as a traffic cop managing road traffic.
On the same page, a male chef is shown and students are tasked to look at the picture and say a few lines about it. In another illustration, a man is shown ironing clothes.
Through several suggestions at the start of the textbook, teachers and students have been asked to take note of stories and pictures of persons such as a woman pilot, male chef and policewoman and to talk about them and these “social changes”.
Sunil Magar, Director at Balbharati, told PTI that the rationale behind the changes is to inculcate a thinking among students that men and women are equal and both can do any work.
“We here at Balbharati give emphasis on experiments. While drafting the new textbooks, especially for the young ones, we need to see that the content in the textbooks is abreast with structures and changes in the society,” he said. The teachers’ fraternity has welcomed the changes in the textbooks which stress on gender equality.
“As a teacher, we have been inculcating the thinking about gender equality among students. With revised textbooks, students from urban as well as rural areas will have a clear understanding that men and women are equal and capable of doing any work,” said a teacher.