European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.org
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, Pakistan Abstract: Language is one of the most important sources of gender bias or a gender-neutral attitude. Since writing usually adopts the spoken form of language and gets embedded in tradition where its neutrality is hardly ever questioned, 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, a province 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 reasons i.e. first my association with teaching English and secondly, the English language’s association with modern life and its dominant position in the curriculum around the world, and especially in Pakistan. Moreover, ‘it is also the means of bringing a person into contact with the outside world and hence with the liberal-humanist, democratic values’ Rahman, (2001p 1). Gender critical incident were selected while analysing the books and gendered use of the language was found in almost all the books analysed. The language used in the books was gendered not only in the terms of opportunity of expression provided to female but also in its stereotypical 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 “The camel is a funny thing…and Nanny says he is just like me on days when I am grumpy” is not only highly derogatory for any sex but by attributing it towards female sex it becomes stereotypical too. Similarly in book in book 5 Yasmin replies to Saba when she asked about Yasmin hobbies in holidays by saying “ I learned to make clay toys” is not only made gendered by associating it with the female sex but it also conveys the sense of economic dependency of females. Key Words: Gender Disparities, School Curriculum, Content analysis, Textbooks
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.
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.org The purpose of the analysis is to see whether the English books taught in 3rd to 6th classes represent the different customs and beliefs, especially about women, of the society in its present form or attempts have been made to challenge the gender stereotypic beliefs through textbooks on the part of educationist.This study shows that gender stereotypical beliefs are reflected in e.g. language dialogue, illustrations and action in all the books analysed 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 full potential through education and are able to ensure their full participation in building a better world. Oxfam (2006 p 2). “The final result of all this bias can be a sizeable, even if largely unnoticed, impediment on the road to gender equality in education”(Blooburg R.L 2007)
The purpose of the present study is to analyse the gender differences illustrated in Pakistan Primary schools textbooks. This study will enable us to see and understand to what extent the stereotypical or non-stereotypical or sexist representation of the gender roles of the society is reflected in the textbooks and also that what efforts have been made by the textbook writers within the textbook for eliminating gender inequalities by reversing the traditional representation of the gender roles. Moreover, the study will also allow us to understand the implication that gendered or gender-neutral representation might have on student (girls and boys) educational access to schooling and whether it can be counted as having affects on girls education in terms of drop out and retention in Pakistan. As the present discourse is about the gender inequalities displayed in the textbooks, therefore gender messages transmitted through textbooks will be the nucleus of the essay but before going into further detail it is essential to explain 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?
This 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 of gender analysis. Narratological aspect mainly covers the qualitative dimension of the study. But, instead of analysing 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 or exaggerating gender roles in some way.
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.org Since writing usually adopts the spoken form of language and gets embedded in tradition where its neutrality is hardly ever questioned, therefore it is important to check the gender approach of a language before it becomes part of the traditional usage. The qualitative analysis is mainly 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 techniques and gives it richness and depth.
Instead of analysing the whole text, I decided to adopt Sunderland’s (2001) gender-critical incidents approach while analysing the books. Gender critical incidents, as Sunderland maintains, are those that appear gender biased in either maintaining or exaggerating gender roles in some way. Moreover, qualitative analysis is mainly adopted 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 techniques and gives it richness and depth. Furthermore, animal stories for example about “Little Chimpy” and “Fox and a Crow” and poems on nonhuman subjects, for instance, “The Moon”(p 40 book 3) or which do not have any relationship with the present topic are not included in the analysis of the books.
Language in the books
22.214.171.124 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 of the stereotypical and demeaning language used in a poem on Camel in book 3. There are not only stereotypical derogatory references in words like “ grumpy” suggesting female short temperedness’ but also the physical appearances of female is made butt of joke. The reference to “Nanny” is gender biased which could have been easily avoided (were it considered essential) by using a word old person, which again is not desirable as that would 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 a frock for herself but for Ali she says “look Ali there is red bicycle with a black seat” suggesting different masculine and feminine interests in the language used i.e. female would want beautification while male are interested in physical activities conveying strength.
126.96.36.199 English book 4 In a lesson in (book 4 p 15) where unlike traditional depictions it is Iqbal (a male) who is asking about different things in hospital while Yasmin (a female) is answering his quarries and explaining things. But even here the element of gender biased in language can be found as it is Iqbal who gets more turn to speak (3 times) than Yasmin 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 is masculinised by giving it masculine connotation. Likewise the pictures portrayed along these nouns are only male which consolidate even further their masculine attributes. These nouns are e.g. the Pilot, Teacher, Farmer,
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.org Chemist, Painter and Carpenter, and Shopkeeper etc. while on the other hand the only Noun a Nurse is used with a 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.
188.8.131.52 English book 5 Gendered nature of the language can also be found in book 5 during the conversation of two friends in the very first lesson of the book where Saba asks Yasmin about the holidays and her reply is that “I learned to make clay toys”. The activity mentioned is gendered in two ways. One, the association of making toys with the female sex and other the activity was just for leisure (and not productive) conveys the sense of economic dependency of female sex. A sentence about the mixed classroom given on page 14 is that “Uzma is talking to Zubaida” conveys the stereotypical belief of women/girls being talkative and can be the cause of degradation of female students especially in a mixed classrooms or it can form an image in the students (female or male) minds of female being talkative. As according to Obura (1991 ) “the fact that books are image forming and sources of information on social norms is no longer in doubt” which can be the potential effects of the language used.
184.108.40.206 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 be spoken by a female character (daughter) thus minimizing importance not only of the words spoken but also of the 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, the messages given to the school children…sanction the dominance of male”. In a lesson on page 23 a character Fida Mohammed is shown as “usually right and seldom wrong”. While his wife is mentioned as Mrs Fida showing that she is important only as Fida’s wife similarly phrases like “Zarwali and his wife” (p92) explain that gendered sensitive language is not used. Furthermore the author says, “I don’t know about Mrs Fida. Is she always in a happy mood? Or is she sometimes angry? Does she often break dishes or forget to do anything in time? Does she ever have any problems? Using such suggestive language is almost equal of impressing these biased 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. Brothers are advised not to hurt sisters because she will soon depart “when the sister leaves your home, to make another of her own” (p 28). This furthermore, also suggests that marriage is the only destination for her and will start new life after marriage to serve her children, husband and his family. Stereotypical depiction of strongly held beliefs 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, I do”. The following sentence is “do you see any girls in the field? The answer this time is “no I don’t. There aren’t any girls in the field”. The sentence clearly suggests that there should not be any girls in the field or in
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.org other words it is telling both boys and girls that it will be highly inappropriate if a girl happened to be seen in the field. The approach to women working in offices is also gendered. In a lesson on page 64 Shahbano (a girl) visits her friend Rahim who works in a bank “it is impressive” she said but her working in the bank seems to be a wish only. The author do mentioned women coming to bank but only as customer to deposit money or as visitors as Shabano 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 was passing by a big farm when “he saw an old farmer…busy in his work” assuming that it is impossible for a female to be in agricultural profession. On page 73 while explaining the name of the city Peshawar, it says that Peshawar “means a man with a profession” 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-made machine…” again explains that no attention has been given on the part of the writer to use the gender-neutral language and according to Kalia as cited in Gail, p Kelly et al (1982) such male centred language is hardly consistent with goals of equality between the sexes”.
The process of schooling is not limited to learning of writing, reading and arithmetic but schools rather “carry a social 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 of children. The textbook present models of people. They present behaviour and thought patterns that they imply are good to copy. In all the four books analysed above the stereotypical gendered reflections of the predominant roles expected of the 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 reflected in home environment within kitchen, either cooking or washing dishes while males mostly are seen occupied with productive activities or playing outdoor games. Similarly language is one of the important and common means of communicating different messages. In textbooks “both the content and discourse of the text can have differential effects on different social grouping of children, including the categories of male and female” Harris,M (1999). However it is the usage of language in reference 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 the negative 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 of language is biased not only in targeting women as irritable and moody but also pointing out aged women as a class. The two friend in Book 4 talk about the new born baby is in itself a gendered activity but language wise where one of the female character is made to say that “no one in my family have pointed nose” can have potentially degrading effects on the female students as the treatment a textbook gets can never be predicted and depends
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.org totally on the gender knowledge and belief of the teacher. Sunderland points to the different treatment a text can get by saying that “The most non-sexist textbook can become sexist in the hands of a teacher with sexist attitudes” Sunderland et al (2001 p 260). 1.5
Content analysis of the books, though a useful method of pointing out the gendered bias in educational material is becoming outdated as the teachers, textbook publishers and educationists are increasingly becoming aware of the phenomenon. The focus internationally and in the developed countries especially, is changing. But in a developing country like Pakistan content analysis of the textbook can become highly productive exercise by including 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 the material 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 roleplay. 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.
The 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 the four 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 of discourse roles.
European Journal of Education and Learning, Vol.7, 2009 ISSN(paper)2668-3318 ISSN(online)2668-361X www.BellPress.org In nutshell almost all the books revolve around the male centred activities and they usually occupy central roles in most of the dialogues.
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