Classrooms in over 10,000 schools across the country may soon be buzzing to the sound of gender sensitization discussions, under a central government plan triggered by the recent gang-rape of a 23-year-old Delhi girl.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), India’s largest school board, is preparing a gender sensitization module to train teachers and help students battle stereotypes against women from a young age, board chairman Vineet Joshi has told HT.
“This module is a part of our response to the recent incident, to make our classes more sensitive to gender issues,” Joshi said, adding that the CBSE will meet within a week to formulate the module. Crime statistics persistently indicate that the country’s school education is failing to curb male prejudices against women.
“Clearly, we need to do something to prevent anti-women mindsets,” Joshi said.
The move comes amid a growing national debate on the societal upbringing and education of the nation’s boys and what shapes mindsets that have led to increasing crimes against women.
The board, Joshi said, is also planning to launch an optional subject for classes XI and XII on human rights and gender studies from 2013. A moral education kit launched by the human resource development (HRD) minister in November will also incorporate elements of gender sensitization.
Over the past few years, the country has moved towards a school curriculum that increasingly works on inculcating values of gender equality in students. National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks – used by schools across education boards in India – now use male and female characters in a narrative format to break stereotypes.
But the initiatives are yet to show results, with a clear disconnect between educational standards and crimes against women according to National Crime Records Bureau data. Kerala, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh rank significantly higher than Bihar or Uttar Pradesh in most educational parameters. But these educationally performing states also fare much higher in incidences of crimes against women.