In Uzbekistan school textbooks can be amended to eliminate gender stereotypes

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Within the frames of UNESCO project in Uzbekistan the content of school textbooks will be checked for the gender-sensitivity. Recommendations will be developed for individual textbooks.

Despite significant progress in increasing the number of women in the new Parliament of Uzbekistan, the gender gap in certain spheres, such as decision-making, remains quite high.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of the Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)  expressed its concern that women and girls still choose traditionally “women’s” spheres of life, and negative stereotypes about women still remains in school programs and textbooks. The Committee recommended Uzbekistan to revise existing learning materials to eliminate gender stereotypes. Programs and policies, aimed to determine and eliminate the gender differences, refer to the gender-sensitive approach (as per the Glossary of terms and concepts, related to the gender).

The following is planned:

  1. Analyze the content of 207 school textbooks for the gender sensitivity for the 1-11 grades. A separate report will be compiled for each text book.
  2. Develop detailed recommendations to reduce gender gaps in some textbooks for the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 9 grades. These textbooks will be published in 2020-2022 based on UNESCO guidelines.

In current textbooks in Uzbekistan a gender issue is presented unevenly. For example, in the textbook “First steps in ethics”, used in 3rd grades of primary schools, in the material related to the science and cultural heritage of our ancestors, the names Abu Ali ibn Sino, Abu Raikhon Beruni, Mirzo Ulugbek are indicated, quotes of Akhmad Yugnaki, Amir Temur, Abu Ali ibn Sino, Alisher Navoiy are provided. There is no female name in this material. 

Also this textbook reflects stereotyped image of the role of a men and women:

  • Women/girls: do laundry, iron the uniform. Areas chosen by the girls: fashion designer, rhythmic gymnastics.
  • Men/boys: do not care of their belongings, throw stones at the animals, break windows, cannot sit quietly, interrupt the lessons. Areas chosen by the boys: constructor, composer, entrepreneur.

The analysis of textbooks will be done in vertically (grade wise) and horizontally (discipline wise). Experts will cooperate with methodologists of the Republican Center for Education under the Ministry of Public Education. In this way specialists, responsible for the development of new textbooks, will strengthen their potential on gender sensitive evaluation of educational materials.

Male and female characters will be studied in each textbook, quantitative analysis of characters will be conducted and characteristics associated with them will be described. For example, whether male and female characters are presented separately or in cooperation. In the case of cooperation, the character of relations will be studies as well (family relations, professional relations, cooperation, subordination).

The planned schedule of the analysis and development of recommendations for the project is February 17- April 6, 2020. The program is being implemented within the framework of UNESCO project, funded by the UK government “Strengthening of the gender equality through the state education system in Uzbekistan”. The collection of the proposals is until the 4th of February 2020.

It is worth to underline herewith that the analysis of textbooks for gender sensitivity does not mean the elimination of stereotypes. All recommendations should be incorporated in new educational materials that will be developed and published for the pupils in the coming academic years.

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