The new course on human rights and gender studies, to be included in the next academic year by the Central Board of Secondary Education, is intended to make students aware of the ways in which gender is “taken for granted,” the implication of gender in our lives and the prospects for change.
The course will look at gender within the context of different social institutions including family, educational institutions and workplace. Infanticide and female foeticide resulting in lopsided sex ratio in the country will form part of the case studies. Rehabilitation of children caught in war zone, women traumatized in war and child terrorists are some other issues on which students will be sensitized.
Specific studies related to contemporary issues such as infanticide, education of girls and early marriage will also be cited as case studies for classes XII students. To be introduced as elective subject in Class XI and XII, human rights and gender studies will carry a separate chapter on equality of opportunity with respect to men and women as well as the rights of physically and mentally challenged children, rights of children with special needs, and the rights of the vulnerable sections of the society like destitute, displaced women and children, those orphaned or separated from their families due to man-made or natural disasters, victims of human trafficking and elderly population.
Highly-placed sources in the CBSE explain that an attempt is being made through the new subject to consider which human behaviours are biologically motivated and which are a product of cultural differences; understand the institutionalisation of gender of politics, economics, language, family, and socialisation; and ponder over the concepts of gender stereotypes and sexism as a form of discrimination.
The new course will create awareness regarding law and the administration of justice, the need for equality of opportunity in the ability to use public services, including education and health, learn about equality of opportunity in the access to justice according to different parameters such as gender, age, and diversity of background, in addition to creating awareness regarding civic and social rights and responsibilities and consumer rights.
The Class XI syllabus for human rights and gender studies will carry an introduction to human rights with the historical perspective, a chapter on duties and right with focus on civic, political, economic, social and cultural rights with a Gandhian perspective on human rights.
The course will take a look at the Constitution of India with focus on equality and right to education with specific reference to education of the girl child and right to health with specific reference to the health of the girl child, besides human rights and HV/AIDS. Judicial and non-judicial redressal mechanism for education, health and consumer rights is a separate chapter.
Class XII students will be given an advanced introduction to human rights and gender issues in India. Perspectives and positions of gender studies in the West and in India, with particular reference to the contemporary times and issues like female foeticide will be taught. Laws related to violation of human rights are also included.
There are separate chapters on human rights and the use of natural resources and environment. The right to rehabilitation of those displaced and the role of women and environment is a separate chapter where Narmada Bachao Andolan and Chiko Movement will be cited as case studies. Indiscriminate exploitation of forest land and resources also finds a place in the textbooks.