Various states keep on organising gender balance programmes for bringing about gender parity in government school enrollments.
Recently, the government of Rajasthan launched a special teacher training programme with external aid in nine districts on the issue of gender balance in schools by revamping the training modules. It is being said that in the process of revamping of the training module, female teachers have been involved and modules have been made illustrative with visual and animated content.
“It sounds strange that the root cause of gender disparity in schools has been found in the inadequacy existing training module. But, the revamped module is yet another simplistic and administration-friendly attempt to spend funds and keep on ticking the checklists of activities. I fear, the data will be collected through sponsored studies to show that the funds have been well spent. Instead, the schools as individual entities have to be made community-based with all groups having their stake in benefitting all children of the community,” opined Jaipur-based social-psychologist Dr Anita Srivastava retired from a girls’ college.
I believe that school level education is a process through which a community makes efforts to develop the kind of individuals it wish to see for itself. Therefore, the involvement and participation of community members is important. But, for the teachers, module makers and administrators, whose own children are studying in private schools, the modules and trainings are of no consequences, as many independent researches have shown. Moreover, most parents now wish send their children to the schools provided children of the teachers and their own children study in the same school as a part of gender and social equity to start with.
It should be made mandatory that the schools are seen as a community of children of their catchment areas, and teachers and the local school management have a collective vision of equity, inclusion and respect for diversity as fundamental elements to quality education as a right of children. The patchwork of gender sensitisation through illustrative material and mouthing words will never be able to change the ground reality.
One should never go by the views of those invovled in the development of the modules which often get reported in the newspapers in the first instant and found to be typically the same as were for the earlier module. These people had praised the earlier module in almost the similar kinds of words. As before, the circulars will be sent to schools after the training with the same directive and instructional sentences with the changed subject title which will be signed with the remarks ‘as seen and noted’ by the school personnel.