- Wednesday | 20 Mar, 2013
- Sheena McDonald
- Working Papers
Pakistan has formally committed to the Education for All movement and has pledged to achieve its goals by 2015 (UNESCO, 2004). Goal 5 is the elimination of "gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015 with a focus on ensuring girls' full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality" (Education for All, 2011). Certainly, this goal includes textbooks free from gender bias and the constraining roles prescribed by a rigid gender binary. Nevertheless, it is 2012 and some of the most recent editions of textbooks made available to the students of Pakistan are riddled with depictions of stereotypical and narrow gender roles that limit the opportunities for both genders and subjugate women. This study examines the relationship between the gender binary and bias in textbooks and the binary and bias in Pakistani society. The investigation has two central prongs, the first entailing a critical discourse analysis of government school textbooks available in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) for English, Islamiat, Pakistan Studies, Social Studies, and Home Economics. The second feature of the investigation is a series of in-depth and open-ended interviews with children and their instructors conducted in public schools in the ICT to determine their perceptions of gender and to what extent their perceptions are constructed and enforced by what they are exposed to in the classroom. This study determines that current government school textbooks help promote and perpetuate rigid gender roles and the marginalisation of women within society.
 In 2000, 164 governments met at the World Education Forum in Dakar and committed to achieve Education for All by 2015. UNESCO was mandated to coordinate governments, development agencies, civil society, and the private sector to reach the EFA goals (Education for All, 2011).