Improve female representation in textbooks, educationists urge

  • Education
  • Sunday, 28 Jun 2020

IN Malaysia’s secondary school English language textbooks, girls and women make up 44% of references in the curriculum.

This is in comparison to 37% in Bangladesh and 24% in the province of Punjab in Pakistan.

In its ‘2020 Global Education Monitoring Report: Inclusion

and Education – All means All’, Unesco said when learners are inadequately represented in

curricula and textbooks, they can feel alienated.

The report, which was published on Tuesday, also highlighted that the curricula of 23 out of 49 European countries do not address issues of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

Educationist Prof Tan Sri Dr T. Marimuthu said Malaysia’s 44% female representation is low considering the contribution women make.

“We should do better because a representation like this is symbolic. It’s important for female students to learn that women are capable and play important roles, be it in leadership positions or in other capacities.

“The internalisation of certain values like gender equality will build their confidence.

“They will then see themselves as being as good as their male counterparts, with great responsibilities to play in society and the country,” he told StarEdu.

While former National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam agrees with Prof Marimuthu, he stressed that Malaysia has done a better job at female representation compared to other countries.

Additionally, the textbooks are imported from abroad, he said.

The country can, however, provide more encouragement and room for women representation in school textbooks, he added.

“As our female students read about other women or see more female representation in their textbooks, they will feel included in society.”

The global report monitored 209 countries in achieving the education targets adopted by United Nations member states in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It provides an in-depth analysis of key factors for exclusion of learners in education systems worldwide including background, identity and ability.

“It identifies an exacerbation of exclusion during the Covid-19 pandemic and estimates that about 40% of low and lower middle income countries have not supported disadvantaged learners during temporary school shutdown,” Unesco said in a statement.

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