The report puts forward a demand of improvising the curriculum of primary school students to fulfill our onus of creating a gender-neutral and egalitarian society. The need for changing the curriculum has risen after witnessing a surge in gender prejudices among the students of age group 5-6 years. As per the report of the National Survey Sample of India ,58 % of girls have preconceived notion that their ideal profession is “Teaching” whereas boys have an incline towards “field work’ such as Army, Police. The report stated that such statistics implies a failure of our education system that such orthodox perceptions have been developed in their mind at such a young age.
Primary education is the basic right of every child as it plays an imperative role in equipping students with the skills of vision, intellectuality and acumen requisite in the 21st century. It must focus on learning processes through which social, cognitive, cultural, emotional skills can be developed. The age group 5-6 is a sensitive age since seeds of normative values are laid and take a concrete position afterwards. Activities and lessons should be planned in such a manner that the age-old beliefs turn into innovative ideas which can shackle the primordial conceptions about Gender and their respective roles. The generation above us have been the victim of a regressive curriculum and that could have been the reason for their rigid prejudices inherited at a young age. The concept of gender and profession instilled in our curriculum via visuals and pictures have constrained people to actualize their true potential and forties.
In cyberage, children have unconstrained access to knowledge that piques their curiosity and lack of plausibility creates prejudices at a very early age. An outdated curriculum will enfeeble the roots of young minds which will sway in elementary education. We are still waiting for the requisite transformation that will guard young minds from manifold ethically wrong practices in daily courses.
As we know, it’s comparatively easier to slip into the mould of established norms rather than question them. It is challenging to liberate young minds from the clenches of gender inequality embedded in our curriculum. The unabated continuance of curriculum has to be revised to teach young minds that gender specific characteristic is the crudest resort of inequality. The change should not be bracketed to curriculum as the very nature of our language and stories promotes gender inequality.
Poems, rhymes and fairy tales are the first step of learning for a child. But unfortunately, the first step on the road of learning has a destination of stereotypical beliefs. We must revisit some of the famous tales that every one of us
must have heard in our childhood and look at the discriminatory behaviour of it.
Let us take the famous story of Cinderella, it has perpetuated that women do not have the capability to free themselves from the clutches of oppression and needs a man to bring her out. The never- ending belief of dependency of women on men have been promoted in the story. Moreover, it has given emphasis that even if a
man is requisite for the liberation of women from oppression, the women should have such mesmerizing beauty that can grab the attention of the men even with a cursory glance. It glorifies the institution of marriage and portrays it as the ultimate goal in the life of women.
Adding on, the popular narrative such as Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty etc. have focussed on arbitrary qualities rather pragmatic qualities which is a reflection of inner beauty such as compassion, empathy, altruism etc. The most prominent fairy tale, “Snow White” does not only imply gender prejudice but promotes absurd colourism and gives its bit to the universal belief of associating ‘white’ with beauty.
It is said that the tree of education has the root of primary education but the corrupt nature of our narratives has rotten the first seed of knowledge. Even the most gender - neutral tales “The Paper Bag Princess have its first sentence as “Elizabeth was a beautiful princess. She lived in a castle and had expensive princess clothes.”. The attributes used are beauty and extravagant clothes despite the presence of immense courage that the princess had. The fact that “The Paper Bag Princess “seemed anomalous to us is that it altered age – old representation of
men and embedded roles which required the abduction of the princess and the prince to be the saviour. The Fairy tales have burdened men to be courageous, violent and saviour. An oft- quoted credulous justification associates
physiology with courage. The societal understanding of ‘strong’ have doomed males to be saviour since their physicality allows them. But a war can be won without a single sword and that has been best exemplified by the princess where she used intelligence to defeat the dragon. A society where a single woman is derogatorily labelled as spinster can derive its inspiration from the princess who defied everything and didn’t frown before leaving the
Education is the greatest medium of revolution and gender sensitive narratives will make young minds fathom that ‘presence and absence of Y chromosome “should not constitute one’s demeanour, responsibilities to be upheld and professions to be pursued. The amendments in our incumbent regressive curriculum will liberate girls and boys from becoming victims and chauvinist respectively.
The education system has played a great role in gendering dress, gesture, occupation, social network and personality and delayed the annihilation of the evil of social hierarchy. The primary school marks the cognitive and intellectual development of students. The gender biasness of the incumbent curriculum can be traced from our second-class textbook which teaches in the chapter “Structure of family” that father goes to office and mothers remain at home. The child's ability to think and reason hampers when a 5 year old is taught above mentioned rigid binary categorisation. The narratives like snow white should be replaced by stories like” The Paper Bag Princess” as they scrape out the prerogative of women to be dependent, quiet, beautiful and obedient.
Children are sapling of the bright future and therefore, they should get access to qualitative education. And for this purpose, a comprehensive curriculum should be designed in the light of encompassing moral aspects.
I conclude by ‘One Child, one teacher, one book and One pen can change the world”.