Gender in Education: A Shift From Ideology to Action

GENDER PARITY in access to education is a common discourse shared by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In last two decades, Most of the countries have taken a wide range of initiatives to achieve equal participation of male and female students in primary and secondary education. Nevertheless, positive changes in number and quality are still lagging behind the SDG targets. 42.5% of girls attended primary school in South Asia in 1992. In 2012, the scenario remained unchanged. However, trying to achieve gender equality only by increasing equal number of participation of boys and girls does not help achieve the original aim.

Equal number of participation of both gender in education surely portrays equal right in access to education. But the notion of gender parity lies within an individual psychology and actions correlated to the psychology. Increased enrollment of female student in education does not necessarily ensures gender equality. Many people see women participation as an essential tool to eliminate social stigma which does not necessarily change the age-old mentality about gender equality and equity. Such mindset is absent among most of the girls, and women of next generation. As a result, the number of female participation has remained almost unchanged over the period. Changing this psychology requires adopting an intricate pathway of learning and understanding the necessity of both gender and practicing in real life. Actions, in accordance with sustained ideological shift of equal gender role, increases the chance of creating protracted timeline of continued gender equality. Hence, psychological change is one of the cardinal elements to bring expected change in gender parity. Access to education may ensure women’s right to education but access to gender equal mindset can ensure women’s right not only in education but in all walks of life.

Designing such tricky pathway to ensure gender equality is not easy. Gender issues are perceived differently among male and female students. To change the preconceived stereotypes of gender role, gender issues must be included in textbooks. Unique ideas need to be evolved to penetrate typical notion of gender role built over the years in patriarchy. Education curricula need to be linguistically realigned to represent gender equality. Gender issues should be addressed separately among male and female students as the perception of gender roles differs from male to female. Generic description of gender equality in textbook is not sufficient if it does not stimulate the preset psychology to bring the expected changes. Contemporary curricula need be restructured with evolving gender issues and ideas of gender role and equality in workplace to bring the positive psychological change.

Once the change is made, the group of thoughts can be implemented through practical actions. Adopting psychological change and practicing equal gender roles must run in parallel. A positive psychological change in gender equality can be carried forward though prolonged course of actions in the society. If necessary, school-going students can be taught in different ways than the female students as gender role is influenced by patriarchal ideology. On the other hand, school-going female students must be introduced with gender education and innovative ideas to raise their voice in patriarchy. A comprehensive and inclusive approach is compulsory to teach and preach both gender about gender role, issues, equality and equity.

If such gender neutral mentally evolves and sustains through generations, the chance of bringing positive changes with gender neutral role will be higher. This ideological shift reminds us about Dr. Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach that emphasis on ideological change by taking free decision to control quality of life. The psychological development of gender equality brings similar impact to make independent decision on gender role. The capability of making gender neutral decision comes with ideological changes and practices through combined actions.

The idea of increasing female participation among school-going children will see the daylight only we are able to change psychological construction of school-going students from the early stage of life and transfers such changes through generations. The need of increasing female participation should be addressed among male students, and future generation as well. The process needs to be customized accordingly. Any overarching approach for gender neutrality could be counterproductive and ineffective. Increased number of female students may depict access to education, but not access to gender equal world.

Equal access to education for both female and male students is one of the perquisites to ensure gender neutral world. However, access to education without ideological change may hinder the progress of ensuring gender parity. School-going female students may take female participation higher but this does not necessarily ensures gender parity in society. True equality lies within gender neutral behavior and practice rather than equal participation of both genders. This article draws attention to the need of accentuating gender equality through changing gender notions, rather than emphasizing on equal participation of male and female students.

God Is Everywhere, And God Is Just Fine, No Matter What

If the Devil is in every negative situation and reality that temporarily slips us up, God is in every positive one, and he is doing just fine. That is the great news. Sure, I can tell you a long diatribe about how “powerful the devil is” and say that the nuke button will be pushed and stop everything, but this is not that. No matter how the world, universe and existence may shake for a moment, positive force of existence or God always brings it back to working. Sure, I could complain in this article, but enough people do that on news programs, newspapers, commentaries and the like. I am just going to extol and understand the positive virtues of reality and existence in this.

It has been a few years since I bought and first read the Napoleon Hill book “Outwitting The Devil”, but the concepts and idea of reality and the forces of existence being ruled and worked out by genuinely conscious forces has not left my mind. So, here is a little glimpse into my mind when I conversed with God before I end this article:

God: So, you want to know, do you?

Me: Yes.

God: I am every genuinely winning situation that was or ever has been in existence. Do you think the devil can do that?

Me: No, I do not.

God: Even the singer Paul Simon said, “And the devil called my name, who do you think you’re fooling?” in his song “My Mother Loves Me (Like The Rock Of Ages)”. Why do you think I answer your prayers like I do?

Me: Because I genuinely always know without ceasing or giving up that I am following the Winner, however many dinners, floor shows and wars the devil gets temporarily.

God: Good answer, but let me do you better: No matter how fun the devil looks at times, the devil will always lose like that ridiculous Hank Ketchum Dennis the Menace quote you always use, “How come dumb stuff seems so smart while you are doing it?” The devil will always lose because he is every negative situation that can put on a good show before sinking, remember the unsinkable stem ship Titanic?

Me: Yes, I remember it all too well, not the real even though, but the motion picture. The devil in 1912 had those guys on deck entertaining people with violins while “the impossible” happened right both in real life and in the movie?

God: Yes.

Me: I may sound a little like a “Donald Trump Boast Roast” here, but I am doing it for the right side: I will stay with the winners no matter how great the show on the other side because they always lose anyway.

God: You will, my faithful servant, you will. After all, it is like the ridiculous joke about the politician going to hell that you always tell. Tell it to your readers now before you end:

There was this politician who had a near-death experience. The politician took an actual tour of heaven and hell during the experience. Heaven looked boring to the politician as they seemed to be doing nothing but strumming harps and doing God’s will there. In hell, there was an Earth like party with drugs, deal making, “good times” and lots of sex. The devil even warned him that this was the campaign to get more “suckers” and unenlightened people to come to hell. So, before the politician came back from the near-death experience, the politician told God, “I want to go to hell with the devil, heaven looks as boring as hell!” and then the politician went back to Earth to live the remainder of their life, and when they died, there was nothing to do but sit in a formless dungeon. The politician asked where the party and all the trimmings were: The devil said: “I warned you, that was the campaign to get you into hell, now you are in office here for eternity and this is what it means: Nothing, absolutely nothing, you lost out on eternal happiness. You are nowhere. You sadly lose. Bye.” The devil left him there with himself, his regrets and his thoughts and not any way out of them. Since he died, there is not an escape.