Still left behind –

Gender is a well-documented factor leading to marginalisation in education. Despite the strides made towards gender parity in education, we know that less than 40% of countries provide girls and boys with equal access to education. 15 million girls of primary school age will never get the chance to learn to read or write compared with about 10 million boys. Most often, these are the girls facing additional barriers to education, where gender intersects with extreme poverty, ethnic or linguistic minority, and disability, also LGBTQ+ children and young people deserve an education that reflects who they are. It is important to build a world where LGBTQ+ youth are safe, seen and heard.

Gender-inclusive education:

Research findings indicate that truly inclusive education leads to better learning outcomes for all students. Based on the concept that education should address and respond to the diverse needs of all learners, inclusive education is about quality education, equal participation, and safety to learn without fear of discrimination or violence.

It is about developing education systems that support all children, including the most marginalised and hard to reach. The links between gender-responsive and inclusive education in terms of improved learning outcomes, economic gains, and overall country development, are indivisible. Educating people about accepting everyone as they are, and making society inclusive, should begin at a young age as it helps remove the learnt stigma associated with different genders.

To make Indian schools inclusive, the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) released a manual for teachers to teach the students about accepting people who do not identify with the gender binary and provided several ways to make school gender inclusive. The NALSA judgement reiterating the LGBTQ community’s equal rights in 2014 was a significant step in India’s pursuit of gender equality. The judgment recommended that schools should be made more gender-inclusive by introducing gender-neutral uniforms and building gender-neutral toilets.

Making schools inclusive is necessary because it would help to make society, in general, more inclusive. The manual was in line with the Indian government’s National education policy 2020 which aimed to make educational spaces gender-inclusive and also uphold the fundamental right of the LGBTQ community to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈

Often gender discussions are about males and females, why so? Ever wondered?LGBTQ community has faced severe oppression and racism over the years, but now is the time for the world to accept the new normal and the first place to enhance this should be the educational institutions.

They ought should –

● Develop the leadership of LGBTQ and allied youth

● Support Gay-Straight Alliances

● Train educational staff

● Advance educational justice

● Deepen racial, trans, gender, and social justice.

● Schools should eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between people.

● Schools already doing LGBTQ-inclusive teaching should tackle and prevent homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying to restore the trust of Faith and Catholic schools.

Female literacy in India –

Girls and women are often bound by gender roles and outdated traditions, which make gender inequalities apparent. According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), poverty and local cultural practices play a role in gender inequality in education throughout India. Another obstacle to educating girls is the lack of hygiene in schools across the country. In many schools, there are no separate toilet facilities for girls. Separated toilet facilities are important once girls reach puberty. Without privacy and facilities, they need to cope with the menstruation cycle, and many girls choose to leave school altogether. 23% of girls in India leave school once they hit puberty. And, the girls who continue education miss as many as 50 school days each year as a result of menstruation.

A few suggestions for imbibing gender-sensitive curriculum transactions are –

● Effective pictures and illustrations should show the children that a woman is not merely a mother, but she can be a teacher, a doctor, a professor, an engineer, and so on. It should include in the textbooks and reading materials

● Depicting men, women and LGBTQ in shared roles and one can display the talent of women.

● One can counter prejudicial references in textbooks if noticed. Textbooks should be made non-racial and non-sexist.

● A gender-sensitive life skills approach to curriculum transaction includes all the skills necessary for day-to-day functioning and covers areas such as family life education, legal literacy, lifesaving skills, etc.This approach could be used to alter the unequal gender relations and empower both boys, girls and the LGBTQ community for a shared future by breaking down gender stereotypes and gender barriers in skill development.

Conclusion –There is no doubt that Gender Disparity has a long history. The education sector can certainly play a vital role in eliminating this gender inequality. It is very important to make people aware of the benefits of gender equality. It is important to note that the inclusion of the concept of gender equality in the curriculum and the enactment of laws to eliminate gender inequality has a significant impact on the need to achieve the constitutional goal of establishing an equitable society.

Education, as a human right, must include the principles of non-discrimination, equality, and justice. It cannot be a commodity sold to those who can afford it. It should be a right and a right guaranteed by the government. Awareness about the importance of gender-inclusive education among the members of society is very important.

-By Jahnavi Singh