‘Sexist’ Pakistani school textbooks are sparking backlash over gender

‘Sexist’ Pakistani school textbooks are sparking backlash over gender

In Pakistani textbooks, mothers, daughters, wives, and instructors are the most common roles for girls and women.

Imran Khan, Pakistan's prime minister, unveiled the unified national curriculum last month, hailing it as a step toward the country's emancipation from slavery.

He lamented the fact that, in addition to learning English for higher education, individuals had absorbed the English culture, which he believed was a key factor in Pakistan's collapse.

This revamped Single National Curriculum (SNC), known as "milestone" in the country's education system has sparked backlash from many people.

Following the publication of the curriculum's new textbook, many people have gone to social media to protest what they see as the book's oppressive gender standards.

One of the pictures of these textbooks shows, a father and son dressed in western clothing sit peacefully on a couch, reading a book. A hijab-wearing mother and daughter are shown on the floor with hijabs, are carefully positioned on the ground with a stack of books.

‘Sexist’ Pakistani school textbooks are sparking backlash over gender
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At first sight, the image appears to be harmless.However, it smells of male privilege and the erasure of indigenous Pakistani feminine identity for many.

Education professionals, activists, and members of the public have criticised the new curriculum, claiming that it fails to encourage and incorporate gender equality, religious minority, and cultural diversity.

The SNC, according to the Women Action Forum, is "centred on ideological imperatives rather than pedagogical imperatives and would sow society with divided thinking."

In Pakistani textbooks, mothers, daughters, wives, and instructors are the most common roles for girls and women.

Acts of recreation or exercise do not involve them.Only boys are depicted playing and exercising, while ladies are only visible as spectators in photos.

Women and young girls wearing hijab or headscarves were also shown in the textbooks, which drew criticism.

Although hijab is widely worn by women in Pakistani society, it is not a native to the country's culture, but rather a co-opted import from Gulf nations.

Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces, as well as the capital city of Islamabad, have adopted the new curriculum.

It was, however, rejected by Sindh's southeastern region, where 7.5 million students attend schools and madrassas.

Pakistani parents caught in the crossfire of the curriculum are also split, attempting to reconcile gender depictions in textbooks.

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