With the increasing incidence of rape in the city exposing the sexism and misogyny pervasive in society, a board of educators has risen to address the need for lessons in gender sensitisation among the youth. And to achieve this end, the Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE) has taken the shortest route -- via teachers, who spend hours with their students every day.
The board is in the process of educating teachers of around 150 city schools about gender. The hope is that teachers will pass on their new attitudes and perspectives to the adolescents they teach.
One of the workshops was conducted at Victoria High School in Mahim yesterday. MiD DAY visited the venue to observe the workshop. At the day-long session that stretched from 9.30 am to 5 pm, care was taken to instruct and enlighten teachers about gender-based discrimination in society, while keeping in mind that the ultimate aim is to impart the ideas to students.
Simantini Dhuru, one of the two speakers, said, “We have advised teachers to educate the students of Std VII, as children in this age experience behavioral and physical changes and are prone to receiving wrong information from their surroundings. We have provided the teachers with kits that contain a book and a CD. This will act as a guide to the teachers for when they have to give lessons to the students.”
The board, with the help of the Avehi-Abacus Project, organised a similar program in Thane on Monday, and will conduct another session today in Bandra. Avehi-Abacus has been working with municipal schools and non-formal education centres in the city since 1990.
Around 60 teachers were enlightened on various topics in each workshop, which comprises 12 sessions. Issues like gender inequality were discussed, and established as the reason for violent crimes against women. The discussions also dealt with sexual violence, harassment and rape, the role played by media, and gender inequality at home.
At the introductory session, teachers were asked to draw a sketch of a farmer. 90% of them sketched male farmers, illustrating how most of us are conditioned to discriminate on the basis of gender and do so even when we think of professions.
In truth, around 70% farmers in the country are female.
“The book details 12 sessions, and we suggest that the teachers take an hour per week for each session. This would help them manage the sessions within their school hours. The schools will be starting with the sessions as early as possible”, said Neola D’souza, speaker for the programme.
College students get red chili spray
National Students Union of India (NSUI) visited several colleges including Jai Hind College, Government Law College and Sydenham College in south Mumbai and distributed red chili spray and whistles to female students, which they can use them in case of emergencies. The union aims to continue this drive in other colleges in the city today.
This is a topic that needs proper planning and execution, so that the correct message is delivered. The programme is effective and has made me think about the way I can present the topic to my students. I am sure if other educational institutions undertake such initiatives, results will be seen soon
-- Neelima Gajbare, a teacher at Gloria Convent School, Byculla
Gender sensitisation is a wide and crucial topic. Thanks to this programme, I have a fair idea about how I would be addressing my students. But proper arrangements need to be made to make students aware of the topic.
-- Maria D'souza, teacher at St Anthony High School, Andheri
Our aim is to make the male students respect the opposite gender and also educate the girls, who are the future women of the country. By means of these programmes, we are doing our bit to prevent the cases that have shaken the city and the country.
-- Father George Athaide, Secretary, Archdiocesan Board Of Education