ISLAMABAD: An expert through a detailed study has pointed out a number of instances of gender, urban and religious biases prevalent in the Punjab textbooks.
Aamir Riaz, who has worked as a reviewer with the Punjab Textbook Board, has conducted a study on textbooks published by the board for the year 2014-2015. The study covers English, Ethics, Islamiat, Urdu and Pakistan Studies from class one to 10.
Riaz, while sharing findings of his research in his presentation at a literature festival here last Friday, said textbooks favoured urban living over rural living. He said that the English textbooks were particularly full of urban bias.
Riaz said that urban bias was visible in the titles of Urdu books too.
He said that religious and sectarian bias was noted in books of Pakistan Studies. Riaz said that in some books an anti-India mindset was being promoted. He said that unfortunately praise for military dictators was still part of the textbooks.
He said that the role of military governments in the weakening of the process of nation-building hardly got mentioned.
Riaz said that representation of gender across textbooks was questionable on normative grounds. While citing example of gender bias, he said that mixed public gatherings might not get acknowledged by an author. Similarly, he said a girl might always get shown doing household chores in illustrations in a textbook.
Riaz lamented that women were associated with numerous trades but under the influence of a specific mindset, somehow we did not want to accept it.
He said that in some instances some positive development had also taken place. Some sections of books now promote religious tolerance and plural values, he said.
Riaz said that introduction of a book of ethics in the province back in 2010 was a good step but trained teachers and markers were needed who had yet to be recruited.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2015.