Kerala govt introduces gender neutrality concept in school textbooks

The textbooks, with pictorial representation of family members cutting across genders involved in cooking and other kitchen chores, are drawing widespread attention.
Kerala gender neutral school text books
Kerala gender neutral school text books

Thiruvananthapuram | A father grating coconut in the kitchen and cooking snacks for his daughter may sound a bit odd in a patriarchal society.

But what if the message appears in school textbooks?

That is what has happened in Kerala, where the state government has introduced innovative textbooks comprising gender neutral messages.

The objective is to inculcate the message of gender neutrality in the minds of children, authorities said.

As schools in the state reopened on Monday after two month-long summer vacation, the textbooks, with pictorial representation of family members cutting across genders involved in cooking and other kitchen chores, are drawing widespread attention.

The innovative textbooks caught wide attention after state General Education Minister V Sivankutty shared a page from one of such textbooks in his Facebook post the other day.

The minister shared the page from the Malayalam medium textbook of Class 3 which shows the father sitting on the floor grating coconut while the mother is seen cooking dishes.

In the English textbook, the father could be seen cooking snacks for the daughter.

Teachers and students wholeheartedly welcomed the gender equality concept included in textbooks and hailed it as a "positive" step.

Pavithra Krishna, a lower primary student of a government school in nearby Vithura, said was amused seeing the pictures in her new Malayalam textbook.

"I was turning the pages of the new book and was surprised to see the pictures of a father scraping coconut in the kitchen. I showed this to my father and asked why he doesn't do this at home," she told PTI.

Sindhu, teacher of a state-run school in the capital city, said it would surely give a positive message among students, cutting across genders.

"This is very positive. Knowingly or unknowingly, there is a general impression in our society that cooking and housework are the sole responsibilities of women. Children are also growing with this sense of feeling because that is what they see in their home," she told PTI.

But the chapters and pictures in the new textbooks give the message that cooking and other housework are the collective responsibility of both father and mother, she said.

The teacher further said women are the ones who usually toil the most when it comes to household duties.

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