Prof. Deepa Sreenivas, faculty at the Centre for Women’s Studies, participated as an expert at a National Consultative Workshop at Thiruvananthapuram, on the invitation of the State Council of Educational Research Training (SCERT) Kerala, to develop a gender audit framework for school education, held during 27-29 October, 2022.
The workshop was driven by a focus on gender justice in the education sector and adherence to the principles of equality enshrined in the Constitution as highlighted by the Minister for General Education, Kerala, V. Sivankutty in his inaugural address. The workshop aimed to evolve new strategies and tools for a gender audit of school curriculum as well as the broader contexts of learning processes, teacher education, school and classroom environments, regulations on school campuses, school-community interfaces as well as access to and utilisation of campus space and facilities. Prof. Sreenivas, along with other invited experts—Prof. Anita Rampal (Former Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Delhi), Prof. Nandini Manjrekar (Dean, School of Education, TISS) and Dr. Purwa Bharadwaj (Consultant, Nirantar Trust)—deliberated with school teachers, members of Kerala Mahila Samakhya Society, and officials and activists involved in school education to arrive at a set of indicators and questions that would aid the curriculum committee and other relevant bodies to facilitate greater equity and gender justice in schools.
Prof. Sreenivas spoke in the session on ‘Masculinities and Femininities: the science and history of binaries’, ‘Curriculum and Textbooks’ and ‘Teacher Education’. She drew on her involvement in the production of textbooks as an author to demonstrate how routinized processes of gender discrimination and bias may be brought out and questioned by textbooks in a way that connects with young children and adolescents in their everyday contexts. She urged teachers to examine the hierarchy of subjects, as even the science lessons, purportedly value-free and dispassionate, re-enforce gender binaries and roles. For education to be truly inclusive, she stressed, it must interrogate the inherent and often invisible norms of teaching-learning processes. This workshop was a critical platform where inputs from experts such as Prof. Deepa Sreenivas sought to consolidate democratization of school education.