Writing SCERT School Text Books
Nirantar has been part of the Gender Focus Paper, (LINK) in the formulation of the syllabi for political science and in the writing and designing of the textbooks. The Gender Focus paper provides a radical departure from how the education sector has looked at gender in education till now — not merely in terms of breaking stereotypes or in terms of quantitative representation, but into the domain of disciplinary knowledge. A substantive, rather than a merely formal inclusion of gender meant a change in the framework rather than the add-and-stir approach usually used with gender in textbooks.
Examples from the SCERT books
A chapter on the Yamuna is written as a travelogue, through which issues related to geography, environment, livelihoods, history and current efforts to ‘Save the Yamuna’ are explored.
Gender issues are treated as central to the content rather than as a marginal theme. A chapter on societal institutions presents different types of families, looks at how family as a concept can be examined through critiques made by feminist sociologists, and interrogates the relationships within families. This is a significant departure from the previous books where the family is always presented as being nuclear, harmonious and invariably middle-class.
A chapter on citizenship illustrates how language itself can become a means of exploring our own assumption about who is a citizen, highlighting starkly the issue of women’s exclusion from the idea of citizenship by using the female pronoun.
A life story of a boy living in Delhi, Balvinder, shifts the focus of gender from being ‘only about girls’; Balvinder belongs to a middle-class family. He is in class 12, already under pressure to move into a well-established profession and train to become a breadwinner.
Nirantar has shared its experiences of textbook writing in several different forums, seminars and meetings, through training teachers, discussing issues around textbook and curriculum development with researchers, students of education, NCERT and DIET representatives, and so on. The presentations have used illustrative examples from the textbooks to demystify the concept of gender, and how it can become an integral part of educational material and classroom interactions.