Bhubaneswar: A gender equity curriculum will be integrated into the syllabus for students across government schools in Odisha to transform their attitudes, aspirations and behaviour. The School Education Department signed a memorandum of understanding with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-Pal), South Asia, and women rights’ organisation Breakthrough in Bhubaneswar on Monday.
The curriculum uses interactive classroom discussions to encourage adolescent boys and girls to reflect on the culturally-embedded gender norms, roles and discriminatory practices, according to an official release. It will be integrated into the social studies syllabus for boys and girls from classes 6-10 in over 18,000 elementary and 5,000 secondary schools by August. “Adolescence presents a crucial window of opportunity to change even deeply-rooted norms and instil more progressive gender attitudes,” J-Pal South Asia executive director Shobhini Mukerji said.
Breakthrough will work with the department to contextualise and integrate the curriculum into the syllabus, train teachers, receive feedback, conduct workshops and engage parents in the process as well. J-Pal will conduct independent monitoring activities to ensure that the programme is achieving its objectives to generate insights for sustained, high-quality government implementation of the syllabus. “Gender equality is very important. We are working on it.” School Education Minister Samir Dash said.
The expected outcomes of the programme include positive gender attitudes, parents investing in education for daughters, improved sex ratio and more labour force participation by women. The project aims to ensure that girls have choices for their education and work participation, retention of girls in schools for more number of years and reduction in dropouts and increase in age of marriage and first child birth, Breakthrough chief executive officer Sohini Bhattacharya underlined that gender perceptions get formed at a young age. “Therefore, we need to ensure that children, especially those between the 10-15 years, have access to the right information related to gender equality, legal rights, and healthy gender behaviours,” Bhattacharya said.
The implementation of the Gender Equity Programme will help in achieving the state’s sustainable development goals (SDG) of quality education and gender equality. “We’ll have wide-ranging topics that will be covered in schools as part of this programme in our continued efforts to build a gender-equal world,” principal secretary, school education secretary department, Bishnupada Sethi said.