Time to get over Gender Bias - Draft NEP
So, it was my first day in class nine and to engage them, I asked a question, “what would you like to be in future”? I got many responses like teacher, engineer, doctor, and businessman. However, my observation is that most students who want to be teachers are girls. When asked, “why?”, the majority of them answered that the profession is ‘convenient’ and their ‘parents told them to be teachers’.
It is often found in rural India, that either girls are studying arts and pursuing the profession of being teachers or getting married after higher secondary education. The reason being the stereotypes associated with the stream of science, research and technology, as it is considered complicated and difficult to comprehend, following the believe that girls can’t take the burden.According to NITI 2016 – 17, in 2015 – 16 only 9.3 % female is a student enrolled in Engineering and technology for an undergraduate degree as compared with 15.9% male students.
Now what we need to consider here is the step proposed by DNEP. For the first time in National Education Policy ‘gender’ related issues are considered. The policy proposes special incentives for girls’ studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at the secondary level, along with providing reservations for transgenders and children with disabilities. The reservations may help in encouraging students to pursue STEM subjects and eliminating the discrimination on the basis of gender.
The DNEP’s section on transgender children (DNEP 2019 Chapter 6, Equitable and Inclusive Education, section 6.7, pp 153) is a welcome step, as Indian education system finally talks about “Education for Transgender Children” and also works on taking initiative for removing stigma and discrimination which they faced in their everyday life, here with respect to education. Apart from providing them education, creation of safe and supportive school environment where their constitutional rights, and access to other infrastructure, that is, restrooms and other spaces corresponding to their gender identity would be taken care of. Also, another crucial aspect to consider is sensitization of teachers about the issues and aspects related to transgender children.