Karnataka: NEP Position Paper Bats for Gender Sensitivity to Combat Sterotypes

An informal study conducted by the committee found that a majority of people believe women should nurture and look after children and that women "tolerate violence for the good of the family".

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New Delhi: An informal study conducted in Karnataka found that a cross-section of students, teachers and parents believe in performing gender roles and hold problematic attitudes towards domestic and sexual violence.

The study was conducted by the committee that was constituted to prepare a position paper on gender education as part of the National Education Policy, 2020. It highlighted that a majority of people believe that nurturing and looking after the children is the basic responsibility of women and that women “tolerate violence for the good of the family”.

These were some of the highlights of the study, which was conducted by sending a Google form with 20 questions to 1,070 teachers, 404 parents, and 221 students. It “helped in understanding the pulse of the people in their perception of gender”, the committee said, adding that it provided insights that would help frame recommendations for gender education.

Among teachers, parents and students, at least a third of the people surveyed believe that “behaviour and dressing style” of girls leads to sexual harassment. Students have internalised gender-based roles and responsibilities, the position paper says.

State governments are required to send position papers to the National Council of Educational Research and Training, which then places them before the education ministry. They will be considered by the ministry while the NEP is implemented.

The committee recommends that the stakeholders – teachers, parents and students – should be made aware of gender sensitivity, which can herald a “paradigm shift”.

According to the Indian Express, the position paper cites studies that found that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened gender-based discrimination and access to education. Now, 71% of girls reported spending more time on chores, care work and household duties compared to just 38% of boys, it says.

The position paper also found that most textbooks in Karnataka show men depicted as farmers and traders while women are seen as caretakers of children. It suggests re-examining the content of textbooks and increasing the representation of women in them – and in committees that draft textbooks.

Madan Gopal, the head of Karnataka’s NEP task force, told the Indian Express that the survey has brought out some startling facts. “The stigma around the LGBTQ community still exists among the education institutions and we need to overcome it. In fact, during the survey, it was shocking to note that stereotypes among the urban population are higher than that of the rural population. Moreover, students, especially girls in urban areas, lacked access to education than the girls in rural areas. The objective of NEP is to ensure there is inclusivity in education irrespective of gender and economic background,” he said.