Home education Study in Karnataka NEP paper flags attitudes to gender: Women tolerate violence...

Study in Karnataka NEP paper flags attitudes to gender: Women tolerate violence for family, stigma around LGBTQ community still exists


-Raising children is the basic responsibility of women

-Women tolerate violence for the good of the family

-Clothes and behaviour are a cause for sexual violence

These are some of the responses by a number of teachers, parents and students who took part in a survey included in the Karnataka National Education Policy (NEP) position paper on gender education. The survey, comprising 20 questions in Google  forms, was carried out among 1,070 teachers, 404 parents and 221 students. Conducted by the members of the position paper to understand the attitude and perception towards gender in the education system, the survey raised gender sensitivity in textbooks, the inclusion of members from the LGBTQ community in schools and gender-based roles, among other topics. According to the study, most parents feel nurturing and looking after the children is the basic responsibility of women. Most parents also believe women tolerate violence for the good of the family and agree that it is the girls who understand them better than boys, thus reinforcing the idea that it is the responsibility of women alone to raise their children and care for their families.

The position paper on Gender Education is headed by Vani Periodi, a freelance consultant in Mangaluru.

The study also revealed that parents feel that girls should have the freedom to dress in the way they like. But 34 per cent of parents also feel that the behaviour and the dressing style of the girls is the main cause for sexual abuse.

The questions were also asked based on the distribution of roles and responsibilities among the teachers and gender-specific professions. It showed that 45 per cent of teachers felt that they should not conduct special classes for girls after 5 pm, thus projecting an idea that girls should reach home before dusk. Around 40 per cent of teachers also agreed that they assign tasks related to decoration to girls and tangible physical tasks to boys.

The position paper also cites studies that reveals that the pandemic only furthered gender-based discrimination to the access to education. Referring to a study by the Centre for Budget and Policy, the paper observes that 71 per cent girls reported spending time on chores, care work and household duties compared to just 38 per cent of boys. This meant girls spent less time on education and leisure activities compared to boys, the paper says. Besides household chores, the study revealed that most children suffered because of technology gaps and girls have it worse.

The position paper also says that an analysis of Karnataka State Textbooks shows men depicted mostly in the roles of farmers and traders while women are seen as caretakers of children.

The position paper suggests re-examining the content of textbooks and increasing the representation of women in them.

As per the survey conducted by the members of the position paper, a majority of the respondents were not aware of issues related to transgender people. As per the survey: “Nearly 47 per cent of the respondents disagreed that the present education system is not sensitive towards transgender (people) while 25 per cent agreed. It is interesting to note nearly 27 per cent of the respondents are not able to decide about the issue.”

Madan Gopal, the head of Karnataka’s NEP task force, said: “Certain facts on gender education are very startling. 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.” The position paper proposes to constitute a gender inclusion fund for providing qualitative education for girls and transgender and also strengthen Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas to increase the participation in quality schools (up to Grade 12) of girls from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Other recommendations include identifying gender sensitivity as a value, ensuring human values like sense of equality and sensitivity in school culture, including respect for all, empathy, tolerance, human rights, gender equality, non-violence, universal citizenship in school curriculum. It also aims to attend to adolescence issues like substance abuse, violence, discrimination, and abuse; ensuring safety and rights of all children/adolescents, especially girls and other non-binary gender.

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