EDUCATION is a thought provoking and unprejudicial discernment generating process that brings out desired change in human beings. To give definite direction to the educational process ten core principles or values have been decided in the National Policy for Education and these values are not separate or free from each other, they are inter related and inter dependent. This point requires more clarification, for example if we do not practise gender equality then can we say that we follow civility, sensitivity, scientific temper and dignity of labour in true sense?
This means education should inculcate all the values. But for this the education system should involve various elements of the society like teacher, government, parents, experts and students, etc. Among all these elements textbook is an important inanimate element that awakens consciousness effectively.
The textbooks should have value added lessons. The lessons should be created and structured in such a way that they become value added. Because textbooks are effective in nurturing the children they are an important resource of education. Up to the 10th standard the children are of an impressionable age. The rearing, caring and nurturing of a child at the tender age leaves permanent impression on his/her life. In short, it is difficult to change these impressions or values later on in life.Psychological, intellectual, emotional, ideological changes and developments are taking place at this age.
Gender equality is one of the most important values out of the 10 core values. About fifty per cent population of any country consists of women. Therefore empowerment of women is imperative for the development of a nation. The rate and speed of development of India depends upon the literacy, self-reliance and self-dependence of women and on the image of a woman carved in the minds of men and women of tomorrow’s India. India’s becoming superpower will be feasible with the empowerment of women.
To view and treat a woman as human being there is a need of a prudent and healthy society. Taking these points into consideration a programme to review the development and production of textbooks was carried out in many states. A brief review has been taken here.
Textbooks of CBSE Board and NCERT on Hindi, English, Sanskrit and Social Studies (in Gujarat, Marathi is an extra subject) from 6th to 10th standards from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand were studied. Similarly the textbooks in Kannada language were reviewed. Articles on ‘role and status of women in text-books or education, from Dibrugadh, Himachal Pradesh and Banda were also included in the study.
The textbooks were evaluated on the following points:
Participation of men and women in writing lessons/text books
Content of lessons from the perspective of women (eg. Health security self-reliance education respect/dignity, etc.)
Role of female characters in the family as a member of the society and in the participation of developmental and nation building activities depicted in the content of lessons.
Status of women in characterisation of capable individuals/persons.
Role of a woman as mother, wife and daughter portrayed in the lessons.
Portrayal of female characters that is harmful for social harmony.
Percentage of female characterisation in the lessons.
The participation of women in writing lessons is nowhere more than 24 per cent. This explains a lot. Women should be appointed as members of Textbook Development Board. At school level female writers should be invited to write.
Perspective regarding the characterisation of role of female is mostly traditional. The female characters should be portrayed in the context of modern times and her productive role i.e. women and technology, broad cast medium, status of women in conservation of environment awareness regarding health issues, political participation, courage and bravery, women and microfinance, etc. The lessons should be structured taking into account these points, then only the principle of gender equality could be followed.
Women bring out stability in the family. Their contribution in building a family is well known. Their productive role in the social work and their participation in nation building activities must be given due importance in the textbooks.
Information regarding women who have received awards, who are scientists, doing creative work in art, who are social workers, who are fighting against exploitation, must be made public through textbooks.
The role of a woman as mother is well known. The portrait of a woman as mother is seen from ancient times and will remain as important in modern times also. But other roles of a women as teacher, daughter, sister (being treated on equal footing as her brother), grandmother (traditional as well as having scientific temper) are equally important. Portrayal of these roles must get place in the textbooks.
There are destitute, deserted or widowed poor women in the society who suffer in silence, their plight should also be depicted in the lessons. Because it will rase awareness and the society will get message regarding their duty of upliftment of the needy women.
The percentage of women related characterisation is very less. In some states in the context of certain subjects, it is actually nil. What does this imply? The next generation may become male dominated society having many prejudices against women. To prevent this happen we must make use of this vital resource to give direction to the society. The better the resource the better the chances of reaching the goal.
(The writer is a retired teacher from New English School, Pune)