European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009                                                          ISSN(pape...
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009                                                           ISSN(pap...
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009                                                           ISSN(pap...
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009                                                          ISSN(pape...
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009                                                           ISSN(pap...
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009                                                            ISSN(pa...
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009                                                          ISSN(pape...
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Gender disparities in school curriculum of pakistan


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Gender disparities in school curriculum of pakistan

  1. 1. European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X Gender Disparities in School Curriculum of Pakistan: Content Analysis of grade 3-6 English Textbooks Farooq Nawaz Khan Assistant Professor University of Swat, Pakistan PhD Scholar Institute of Education and Research University of Peshawar, Pakistan Dr Arshad Ali Assistant Professor Institute of Education and Research University of Peshawar, PakistanAbstract:Language is one of the most important sources of gender bias or a gender-neutral attitude. Since writing usuallyadopts the spoken form of language and gets embedded in tradition where its neutrality is hardly everquestioned, it is important to check the gender approach of language before it becomes part of traditional usage.This paper presents gender wise content analysis of grade 3-6 English textbooks of Khyber Pakhtoon khwa, aprovince in Pakistan. Gender analysis of the books has been done under the “language” component using FAWE(1995) frame work.The selection of English text books for analysis was done because of two main reasonsi.e. first my association with teaching English and secondly, the English language’s association with modern lifeand its dominant position in the curriculum around the world, and especially in Pakistan. Moreover, ‘it is also themeans of bringing a person into contact with the outside world and hence with the liberal-humanist, democraticvalues’ Rahman, (2001p 1).Gender critical incident were selected while analysing the books and gendered use of the language was found inalmost all the books analysed. The language used in thebooks was gendered not only in the terms of opportunity of expression provided to female but also in itsstereotypical usage where female character were degraded and labelled resultantly.Language used in the books at points is not only gendered but derogatory for example in book 3 a sentence “Thecamel is a funny thing…and Nanny says he is just like me on days when I am grumpy” is not only highlyderogatory for any sex but by attributing it towards female sex it becomes stereotypical too. Similarly in book inbook 5 Yasmin replies to Saba when she asked about Yasmin hobbies in holidays by saying “ I learned to makeclay toys” is not only made gendered by associating it with the female sex but it also conveys the sense ofeconomic dependency of females.Key Words: Gender Disparities, School Curriculum, Content analysis, Textbooks 1. Introduction: Content analysis of grade 3rd to 6th English textbooks of Khyber PakhtoonKhwa, a province in Pakistan,from the point of view of gender is done in present study. 1
  2. 2. European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.orgThe purpose of the analysis is to see whether the English books taught in 3rd to 6th classes represent the differentcustoms and beliefs, especially about women, of the society in its present form or attempts have been made tochallenge the gender stereotypic beliefs through textbooks on the part of educationist.This study shows thatgender stereotypical beliefs are reflected in e.g. language dialogue, illustrations and action in all the booksanalysed thus negating the definition of education as pointed out by Oxfam “Education for all means (EFA)enrolling and retaining all girls and boys in school. It is also about girls and boys of all ages develop their fullpotential through education and are able to ensure their full participation in building a better world. Oxfam (2006p 2).“The final result of all this bias can be a sizeable, even if largely unnoticed, impediment on the road to genderequality in education”(Blooburg R.L 2007)1.1 RationalThe purpose of the present study is to analyse the gender differences illustrated in Pakistan Primary schoolstextbooks. This study will enable us to see and understand to what extent the stereotypical or non-stereotypicalor sexist representation of the gender roles of the society is reflected in the textbooks and also that what effortshave been made by the textbook writers within the textbook for eliminating gender inequalities by reversing thetraditional representation of the gender roles. Moreover, the study will also allow us to understand theimplication that gendered or gender-neutral representation might have on student (girls and boys) educationalaccess to schooling and whether it can be counted as having affects on girls education in terms of drop out andretention in Pakistan.As the present discourse is about the gender inequalities displayed in the textbooks, therefore gender messagestransmitted through textbooks will be the nucleus of the essay but before going into further detail it is essential toexplain the basic questions about gender.1.2 Research questions A) What are the gender messages transmitted through the textbooks? B) What might be the effects of these gender messages?1.3 MethodologyThis is a case study of the English textbooks of Kyberpakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan from grade 3rd to 6th.Analysis of the above mentioned books would be the main documents for answering the first question.Qualitative analysis under the “Language” will be made of grade 3-6 books using FAWE (1995) framework ofgender analysis. Narratological aspect mainly covers the qualitative dimension of the study. But, instead ofanalysing the whole text, I decided to adopt Sunderland’s (2001) gender-critical incidents within the books.Gender critical incidents, as Sunderland maintains, are those that appear gender biased in either maintaining orexaggerating gender roles in some way. 2
  3. 3. European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.orgSince writing usually adopts the spoken form of language and gets embedded in tradition where its neutrality ishardly ever questioned, therefore it is important to check the gender approach of a language before it becomespart of the traditional usage.The qualitative analysis is mainly based on an interpretive approach to the events shown or the text given. Thistechnique, according to Kane (1995) helps in interpreting the meaning of material collected through quantitativetechniques and gives it richness and depth.1.3.1 AnalysisInstead of analysing the whole text, I decided to adopt Sunderland’s (2001) gender-critical incidents approachwhile analysing the books. Gender critical incidents, as Sunderland maintains, are those that appear genderbiased in either maintaining or exaggerating gender roles in some way. Moreover, qualitative analysis is mainlyadopted which is based on an interpretive approach to the events shown or the text given. This technique,according to Kane (1995) helps in interpreting the meaning of material collected through quantitative techniquesand gives it richness and depth.Furthermore, animal stories for example about “Little Chimpy” and “Fox and a Crow” and poems on non-human subjects, for instance, “The Moon”(p 40 book 3) or which do not have any relationship with the presenttopic are not included in the analysis of the books.1.3.2 Language in the books1.3.2.1 English book 3“The camel is a funny thing…and Nanny says he is just like me on days when I am grumpy” is an example ofthe stereotypical and demeaning language used in a poem on Camel in book 3. There are not only stereotypicalderogatory references in words like “ grumpy” suggesting female short temperedness’ but also the physicalappearances of female is made butt of joke. The reference to “Nanny” is gender biased which could have beeneasily avoided (were it considered essential) by using a word old person, which again is not desirable as thatwould have been discrimination of different kind.In a lesson “We go Shopping” gender stereotypical language is used in a situation where Naheed wants to buy afrock for herself but for Ali she says “look Ali there is red bicycle with a black seat” suggesting differentmasculine and feminine interests in the language used i.e. female would want beautification while male areinterested in physical activities conveying strength. English book 4In a lesson in (book 4 p 15) where unlike traditional depictions it is Iqbal (a male) who is asking about differentthings in hospital while Yasmin (a female) is answering his quarries and explaining things. But even here theelement of gender biased in language can be found as it is Iqbal who gets more turn to speak (3 times) thanYasmin who gets just two sentences.Similarly in the way the nouns have been used in the English Reader 4 is not gender neutral. Their use ismasculinised by giving it masculine connotation. Likewise the pictures portrayed along these nouns are onlymale which consolidate even further their masculine attributes. These nouns are e.g. the Pilot, Teacher, Farmer, 3
  4. 4. European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.orgChemist, Painter and Carpenter, and Shopkeeper etc. while on the other hand the only Noun a Nurse is used witha female depiction which means that no male but only female can be a nurse, a typical example of stereotyping.The use of generic in English Reader 4 is almost non-existent. It is used once when it refers to a watch person.But its use is made gendered by not only saying watchman but also portraying male depiction alongside it. English book 5Gendered nature of the language can also be found in book 5 during the conversation of two friends in the veryfirst lesson of the book where Saba asks Yasmin about the holidays and her reply is that “I learned to make claytoys”.The activity mentioned is gendered in two ways. One, the association of making toys with the female sex andother the activity was just for leisure (and not productive) conveys the sense of economic dependency of femalesex.A sentence about the mixed classroom given on page 14 is that “Uzma is talking to Zubaida” conveys thestereotypical belief of women/girls being talkative and can be the cause of degradation of female studentsespecially in a mixed classrooms or it can form an image in the students (female or male) minds of female beingtalkative. As according to Obura (1991 ) “the fact that books are image forming and sources of information onsocial norms is no longer in doubt” which can be the potential effects of the language used. English book 6 ( Middle Stage English book 1)Language use in the Middle stage English Book 1 has also many gendered incident in it.On page 20 in whole lesson on conversation between father and son Ali, only two sentences are allowed to bespoken by a female character (daughter) thus minimizing importance not only of the words spoken but also ofthe female character.Female are often portrayed in relation with male merging their own identity with that of male characters.According to Kalia in Ozdogru (2001/2) “instead of fostering the basic equality between men and women, themessages given to the school children…sanction the dominance of male”. In a lesson on page 23 a character FidaMohammed is shown as “usually right and seldom wrong”. While his wife is mentioned as Mrs Fida showingthat she is important only as Fida’s wife similarly phrases like “Zarwali and his wife” (p92) explain thatgendered sensitive language is not used. Furthermore the author says, “I don’t know about Mrs Fida. Is shealways in a happy mood? Or is she sometimes angry? Does she often break dishes or forget to do anything intime? Does she ever have any problems? Using such suggestive language is almost equal of impressing thesebiased characteristics about female sex in students’ minds.In a poem advising little brothers and sisters not to quarrel sister is described as weak and sympathetic. Brothersare advised not to hurt sisters because she will soon depart “when the sister leaves your home, to make anotherof her own” (p 28). This furthermore, also suggests that marriage is the only destination for her and will startnew life after marriage to serve her children, husband and his family. Stereotypical depiction of strongly heldbeliefs of prevailing culture in Khyber pakhtoonkhwa.“Picture of a Village” a lesson starts like this “do you see any boys in it” (picture). The answer given is “yes, Ido”. The following sentence is “do you see any girls in the field? The answer this time is “no I don’t. Therearen’t any girls in the field”. The sentence clearly suggests that there should not be any girls in the field or in 4
  5. 5. European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.orgother words it is telling both boys and girls that it will be highly inappropriate if a girl happened to be seen in thefield.The approach to women working in offices is also gendered. In a lesson on page 64 Shahbano (a girl) visits herfriend Rahim who works in a bank “it is impressive” she said but her working in the bank seems to be a wishonly. The author do mentioned women coming to bank but only as customer to deposit money or as visitors asShabano is.Apart from the gendered use of language generally, the use of generics is also gendered in Middle stage 1.A sentence e.g. on page 51 refers to Wiseman instead of wise person. Again on page 61 when the king waspassing by a big farm when “he saw an old farmer…busy in his work” assuming that it is impossible for afemale to be in agricultural profession.On page 73 while explaining the name of the city Peshawar, it says that Peshawar “means a man with aprofession” excluding the possibility of women ever adopting any profession.Similarly in a lesson “The Telephone” words like “horsemen” and phrase like “satellite is a man-mademachine…” again explains that no attention has been given on the part of the writer to use the gender-neutrallanguage and according to Kalia as cited in Gail, p Kelly et al (1982) such male centred language is hardlyconsistent with goals of equality between the sexes”.1.4 DiscussionThe process of schooling is not limited to learning of writing, reading and arithmetic but schools rather “carry asocial education function by providing instructions in appropriate behaviour with attitude towards other people”Ingulsrude et al (1998 ). There is no doubt in importance of the role schools textbooks play in socialisation ofchildren. The textbook present models of people. They present behaviour and thought patterns that they implyare good to copy.In all the four books analysed above the stereotypical gendered reflections of the predominant roles expected ofthe female and males of the traditional Pushtoon society in Khyber PakhtoonKhwa have been reflected.Women are reflected as fit only for hearth and praised for being obedient wife and good mother. She is reflectedin home environment within kitchen, either cooking or washing dishes while males mostly are seen occupiedwith productive activities or playing outdoor games.Similarly language is one of the important and common means of communicating different messages. Intextbooks “both the content and discourse of the text can have differential effects on different social grouping ofchildren, including the categories of male and female” Harris,M (1999). However it is the usage of language inreference to male and female categories that is our present concern.There are many examples of gendered use of the language all through the four books analysed. One of thenegative and stereotypical usages of the language can be found in book three in a poem “Camel”“The camel is a funny thing…and Nanny says he is just like me on days when I am grumpy”. Such usage oflanguage is biased not only in targeting women as irritable and moody but also pointing out aged women as aclass.The two friend in Book 4 talk about the new born baby is in itself a gendered activity but language wise whereone of the female character is made to say that “no one in my family have pointed nose” can have potentiallydegrading effects on the female students as the treatment a textbook gets can never be predicted and depends 5
  6. 6. European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.orgtotally on the gender knowledge and belief of the teacher. Sunderland points to the different treatment a text canget by saying that “The most non-sexist textbook can become sexist in the hands of a teacher with sexistattitudes” Sunderland et al (2001 p 260).1.5 Recommendations:Content analysis of the books, though a useful method of pointing out the gendered bias in educational materialis becoming outdated as the teachers, textbook publishers and educationists are increasingly becoming aware ofthe phenomenon. The focus internationally and in the developed countries especially, is changing. But in adeveloping country like Pakistan content analysis of the textbook can become highly productive exercise byincluding some of the new trends as suggested below.Couple of studies (by Nayer, A, et al and Zeenatu Nisa 2002) done so far in Pakistan focuses only on thematerial within the textbooks. • Such studies in itself are not faulty but inclusion of teachers’ interviews about the text and classroom observation of the teachers’ treatment of the textbooks material is highly desirable. Similarly interviews with the students will be helpful in gauging the effects that gendered or otherwise textbooks material can have on the students’ educational or learning experiences. • English reader 4 and 5 has teacher guides for different activities like pronunciation grammar and role- play. These teacher guide notes can be of immense help if they are improved on gender lines to give teachers advice in order to reverse certain gender roles or discuss the place where it is possible in order to discourage some gendered representations. Such guides will not only highlight the importance of gender sensitive teaching but will also help students, to understand and have the opportunity to talk and express their views about gendered text within the textbooks. Such practices will help changing attitude of not only teachers but also sensitise students approach towards a given text (using ‘he’ for a ‘child’ for example or why always a girl help in the kitchen?). • Furthermore, “Investigation of one teacher’s treatment of one textbook with one class, as a case study, and surveys, of, say, the use of the same textbook or text by different teacher” as suggested by Sunderland et al (2001 p 282) is also needed in order to explore the range of ways a text or textbook can be talked around. Students’ discussion around a given text and observation of the factors that cause a change in the teachers response to a certain text can also prove an interesting field of study.1.6 ConclusionThe study is based on the content analysis of English books in Pakistan (KPK) from grade 3rd to 6th. FAWE(1995) framework of content analysis is used for the present study.Analysis of the present study only reflects “gender critical points” instead of chapter wise approach to all of thefour books. As the present study was focused only on the analysis of gender from the language perspective,therefore efforts were made to identify only “gender critical points” from the language point of view.In dialogues female characters were found to speak less, speak first even lesser and perform a narrow range ofdiscourse roles. 6
  7. 7. European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.orgIn nutshell almost all the books revolve around the male centred activities and they usually occupy central rolesin most of the dialogues.ReferenceAllen,K,Ingulsrud,J,E (1998) journal of multilingual and multicultural development. Vol. 19.No 3 equality in educationFAWE (1995). ABC of gender Analysis.Kelly,P,G and Elliot C,M (1982). Women’s Education in the 3rd world. Comparative perspective. University of New York Press Albani.M.A Jones and Sunderland (1997) Discourse roles, Gender and language textbook dialogues: who learns what from Sally and Jones. Gender and education. Vol.9.No 4. 469-490.Nayyer, J (1994) Gender identity and Muslim Women: Tool of Oppression turned into Empowerment. Convergence vol, 27 No 2/3.Published in Jakarta.Obura, A Changing Images (1991) portrayal of girls and women in Kenyan textbooks.Oxfam (2006) Girls’ Education in South Asia. Education and Gender Equity Series, Program Insights.R.L.Blumberg( 2007) Gender bias in textbooks: a hidden obstacle on the road to genderSunderland,J (1998) New dimensions in the study of language education and learner gender. Department of Philosophy University of la riojaSunderland,J. Cowley,M Fauzia,A,R. Leontzakou,C Shattuck,J (2001) From Bias “In the Text” to “Teacher Talk Around the Text”. An Exploration of Teacher Discourse and Gendered Foreign Language Textbook Text. By Elsevier Science Inc.R, Subramanian (2005) Gender Equality in Education: definitions and measurements. 7