NEW DELHI: According to the ‘gender audit’ conducted by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), the majority of existing SCERT textbooks/manual cover pages are not gender sensitive, and the back cover and inner sides of the cover are either blank or with generic texts.
Following the audit, the Gender Audit Committee has recommended changes to avoid content that depicts or reinforces notions of female characters in submissive or passive roles.
SCERT Delhi had recently conducted a gender audit of 53 textbooks and curriculum developed by the SCERT in order to assess specific depictions in the textbooks that support gender stereotyping and orthodox gender role categorization in society. SCERT shared the audit report on Tuesday.
The Gender Audit Committee comprised gender experts from NCERT, DU, CIE, DCPCR, NGOs, two faculty from SCERT and DIETs and teachers from DoE and MCD.
The experts made certain consistent observations about the selected SCERT textbooks that identified gaps in contextual understanding from the perspective of gender while developing the curriculum and content of the books.
In the category of contributors, an inequity was observed in the gender representation of team members, contributors, editors, authors, and so on. Content selection for some of the chapters were also found to be biased towards male superiority, manifested in texts in two ways; in selection of male heroes, activists, players, etc. while content is pertaining majorly to male protagonists (or mostly male characters in narration/story/poem etc.)
Besides, the illustrations based on texts, most of them depicting gender stereotypes, or in some cases devoid of female representation, were found to be lacking in gender sensitivity. In the category of exercises and activities, most of the exercises were not cognizant of gender inclusivity.
The audit report also states that the language used in the texts, exercises and activities is gender biased and depicts the dominating presence of males.
Gender-neutral textual language was found to be lacking in some of the content. The report also highlighted that no references concerning transgender people were identified in textbooks or manuals.
Cover pages, illustrations, could be suitably modified to convey the message of gender equality. Similarly, blank back covers and inner pages should be utilized with purposeful, meaningful gender-neutral texts, the committee said, suggesting a balance be maintained while constituting the team responsible for content development, illustrations and editing of the respective texts in view of gender inclusivity.
The committee recommended avoiding content that reinforces and depicts female characters in submissive and passive roles. Further, there must be a conscious effort to include content depicting women as active participants. The content for illustrations should be carefully designed/selected to ensure gender sensitivity and removal of stereotypes.
Exercises and activities should be designed to ensure gender inclusivity and critical and creative thinking among students against stereotypical gender roles and biases.
The language or narrative of the texts should be gender inclusive or gender neutral as per the necessity of the text, the expert panel suggested. In certain places, gender neutral terms can be used while at others, expressions used for both male and female can be used, differentiated with a slash
In terms of representation of third gender, the panel said, the presence and contributions of the transgender person could be included in textbooks.
According to the gender audit report, the content selection for some of the chapters were found to be biased towards male superiority, manifested in texts in two ways; in selection of male heroes, activists, players, etc. while content is pertaining majorly to male protagonists (or mostly male characters in narration/story/poem etc.)