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: Amna Khan : MA ELM I

Course Title and Code: Gender and Education Assignment Title : Final Assignment : Gender Discrimination and Co Education at Higher secondary level in Pakistan

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Co education from a gender equality perspective

Gender Discrimination and Co Education at Higher Secondary Level in Pakistan

By Amna Khan

Co education from a gender equality perspective

Table of contents
Sr.No. Topics Pg. No.




Plan for Co Education system at Higher secondary level in Pakistan











Co education from a gender equality perspective

Background Pakistan is a greatly gender segregated society with strongly clear gender roles and tasks. According to the Constitution of Pakistan, provision of free secondary education to all children is states obligation. Pakistan has signed various international declarations and agreements for upholding equality in access to basic education, including the World Declaration on Education for All (1009, Jorntien, Thailand) and the Dakar Framework for Action for EFA (April 2000, Dakar, Senegal), Pakistan has to address a range of structural barriers and social constraints that are denying girls right of entry to schools.

Whereas on ground when we analyze the actual situation we see that despite of our national and international commitments Pakistan literacy rate is just 44% while female literacy is less than 30 percent, which is the lowest in the region. The gap between male and female literacy rates has widened. In 1975, the literacy gap between men and women in Pakistan was 25 points (11 percent literacy for women verses 36 percent literacy for men). By 2001, that gap had inched upward to 29 points (29 percent literacy for women versus 58 percent for men)

This is extremely alarming situation and is indicating that practically Pakistan has for decades grossly underinvested in education and in particular, girls education.

This situation needs to be addressed. For this purpose we have to first understand the basic reasons of this problem and the basic cause of this increasing gap between male and female literacy rates is gender discrimination.

Co education from a gender equality perspective

Introduction: Gender discrimination is any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of socially constructed gender roles and norms which prevents a person from enjoying full human rights (Cottingham et al., 2001, p. 49). Men are excluded from several forms of training and from certain positions. For example, the criteria for accessing certain senior positions in nursing (e.g. director of nursing) may include midwifery qualifications, but several countries exclude men from midwifery training, thus barring them from these posts (Burth, 1998).

So gender discrimination refers to any situation where a person is denied an opportunity or misjudged solely on the basis of their sex. Gender discrimination represents a significant social problem in Pakistan as well as throughout the world. There are several types of discriminations and disparities that exist in Pakistan as regards to provision of basic necessities and facilities to all girls in comparison with boys.

In Pakistani society the discrimination against girls starts as the child starts to grow older. First, the discrimination starts in the form of nutrition and food and later in the form of less schooling opportunities as compared to males. Male child is regarded as more valuable to the family and girls are often forced to stay at home to help in domestic chores and are denied the right of education and all the advantages that go with it. Social, cultural and economic reasons also play an important role for restricting girls access to schools.

Studies show there is a direct link between a country's attitude toward women and its progress socially and economically. The status of women is central to the health of a society. If one part suffers, so does the whole. So educating girls is the only tool that can help breaking the pattern of gender discrimination in Pakistan and bring lasting change for women in this part of the world.

To address the issue of gender discrimination in Pakistan the culture, policies and practices of education need to be reviewed and revised. For this purpose co-education schooling can play a significant role in bringing positive change in society.

Co education from a gender equality perspective

Now the question is how co-education schools can help society in eradicating the prevailing gender biases in higher education? How gender equality in education can be achieved in this reign through co-education schooling at higher secondary level? How gender mainstreaming of the existing curriculum can help in removing the gender biases in our society.


Equality in the learning process means that girls and boys receive equitable treatment and attention and have equal opportunities to learn. This means that girls and boys are exposed to the same curricula, although the coursework may be taught differently to accommodate the different learning styles of girls and boys. Equality in the learning process also means that all learners should be exposed to teaching methods and materials that are free of stereotypes and gender bias. In addition, it means that boys and girls should have the freedom to learn, explore, and develop skills in all academic and extracurricular offerings.

Plato, the Greek philosopher, believed that co-education helped in the development of personality of both men and women and created a feeling of comradeship among them. He felt that co-education was the only method to make both men and women useful members of society.

Co-education is a system of educating boys and girls together. Co-education generates harmonious relationship, a sense of co-operation, and thus, helps in the progress of the nation. In Co-education there is no discrimination between boys and girls. They study and play together. Along with academic education, physical training is also given to both the sexes.

Various theoretical and empirical studies on the education system of Pakistan reveal that females are not allowed to go to schools broadly because of the following reasons:

1) 2) 3)

Religious Reasons Cultural and Traditional Norms Financial Reasons

Co education from a gender equality perspective

All the above-mentioned reasons, that stop girls access to high schools, can address through coeducation schooling as the co-education system is the only system that can change the mind-set of Pakistani society regarding their daughters education.

When parents send their children (both boys and girls) in the same school this will be the first concrete strike on the mindset due to which parents discriminate their kids on the basis of their gender.

Now the question is why parents will send their daughter to co-education schools, especially at the higher secondary level, when they are not ready to send them in single sex schools? This issue can be addressed through a proper plan of co-education schooling at higher secondary level.

The need of Co-Education schooling become more significant at the high secondary level as at this stage both boys and girls are entering into adulthood and becoming aware of their gender. When at this stage they study together it reduces gender bias among them and generates a feeling of equality between both sexes. Higher Education plays an important role in defining the society, its characteristics and its future. Without co-education schooling goal of bringing gender equality in education cannot be achieved.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan even co-education schools are promoting gender biases by endorsing gender equity through their curriculum. Therefore, we have a developed a plan for a coeducation higher secondary school that will remove all sort of gender biases. By considering these guidelines the goal of gender equality in education can be achieved.

Co education from a gender equality perspective

Plan for Co Education system at Higher secondary level in Pakistan

First of all it should be acknowledged that in the fast changing society of twenty first century coeducation has to become the order of the day. Girls no more have to remain confined to the four walls of the house. Secondly higher secondary education is one of the important institutions responsible for re-thinking and re-defining reality. As such, it is a key to change. To achieve goal of gender equality in co education at higher secondary level, there are some factors that need to be considered. For instance, curriculum (hidden/official), motivational and psychological factors of students, school organization and management, teacher attitudes, assessment, teaching as a profession, co-education and single-sex settings, and the problem of boys. But due to limitation of words and time constraint, only curriculum both official and hidden can be discussed in this plan that shows the strong impact in eliminating the gender disparity at selected level.

Challenging Gender Biases through transformative high school curriculum

What is curriculum? The curriculum deals with the actual content of education. It deals with the methodologies and processes by which learning takes place. It deals not only with the facts and figures (official curriculum) but also with the culture and values of the society (hidden curriculum).

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a gender-sensitive curriculum promotes equal treatment between men and women and between girls and boys, and it encourages them to achieve their full potential. This includes how they interact with learners in and outside the classroom, and how boys and girls are depicted in textbooks. Gender-sensitive attitudes and learning materials promote non-stereotyped images of men and women. Analyzing the relationships between and among girls and boys and teachers and learners can identify the root causes of inequality and suggest systemic, transformative changes to educational systems that will eliminate those causes. Interventions involving both girls and boys

Co education from a gender equality perspective

appear to be successful in addressing constraints that limit girls participation in education (DeJaeghere 2004).

Official curriculum and Hidden curriculum

The official curriculum concerns the subjects that are taught in schools and their content. It varies from country to country and in many there is a national curriculum. However, as the curriculum theorist Paechter (2000) points out, though official curricula tend rarely to address gender equality with the some exceptions such as Sweden and South Africa, they tend to imply certain gender assumptions; for example, that power subjects (e.g. science, mathematics and technology) will attract males and others (e.g. languages, literature) females. The hidden curriculum, on the other hand, concerns everything that happens in the school that is not official, for example, social relations in the classroom or playground, friendships, relationships between teachers and pupils, levels of bullying and harassment and so on. The concept of hidden curriculum is usually attributed to Philip W. Jacksons study Life in Classrooms(1968). Research on the hidden curriculum has been concentrated mainly in school learning but the concept is equally important in the field of higher education. According to Benson Snyder (1973) - the classic in the field - students in the university learn similar strategies of action and survival as do students in other school settings.

Through hidden curriculum, students will be encouraged to develop a positive and healthy social relationship, in which girls and boys can easily intermingle with each other. They will be taught to respect and accept the multicultural ideas, this can be associated with the instructional practices exercise in the classroom by teachers to cope with the demands of organizational structures over which they have little control as the "set of values, attitudes, knowledge frames, which are embodied in the organization and processes of schooling and which are implicitly conveyed to pupils" (Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 2000: online) Finally, in education, "the hidden curriculum refers to the way in which cultural values and attitudes (such as obedience to authority, punctuality, and delayed gratification) are transmitted, through the structure of teaching and the organization of schools."(A Dictionary of Sociology, 2005)

Co education from a gender equality perspective

Gender Mainstreaming of the Curriculum:

Gender mainstreaming of education resources is a process of ensuring that learning materials are not biased in favor of one gender and do not perpetuate any gender inequalities that may exist. Unless the issue of gender is openly addressed, gender prejudice may unconsciously seep into the curriculum. Gender-sensitive learning materials allow both girls and boys (women and men) become equally equipped with the life skills and attitudes that they need to achieve their full potential. We need to examine gender images in textbooks, where we find numerous examples of gender stereotyping e.g. doctors always depicted as men and nurse as women. Change of curriculum can be a difficult task but Gender sensitization workshops for academic staff can begin a process of curriculum transformation.

Balanced Depiction of Genders in Teaching and Learning Materials:

The report of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women notes that one of the factors contributing to the persistence of discrimination against women and gender inequality in many societies is that curricula and educational materials are often gender biased and reinforce traditional female and male roles. More participative teaching methodologies can be introduces which will give equal opportunities for women students to participate actively.

In gender biased teaching-learning materials men are generally depicted as breadwinners, in authoritative positions and as the financial backbone of families, while women are generally depicted as being merely the servers of men either doing domestic chores or, in cases where women are shown working outside of the home, depicted in more subordinate or nurturing positions such as secretarial work, nursing and teaching. While men are generally portrayed as being intelligent, skilful, brave, and determined, women are portrayed as being subservient, passive, and dependent.


Co education from a gender equality perspective

Stereotypical depictions are not only detrimental to the development of girls and women. Stereotypes such as boys are strong and boys dont cry can have the effect of cutting boys and men off from their emotions and their natural feelings of compassion, leading to societies in which there is excessive insensitivity, aggressiveness and competitiveness.

According to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women), creation of education in which women and men, girls and boys are treated equally and encouraged to achieve their full potential, and where educational resources promote non-stereotyped images of women and men, would be effective in the elimination of the causes of discrimination against women and inequalities between women and men.Similarly, the World Declaration on Education for All states that the most urgent priority is to ensure access to, and improve the quality of, education for girls and women, and to remove every obstacle that hampers their active participation. All gender stereotyping in education should be eliminated.

Counseling service for students as well as for teachers: Educational material should reflect a balanced view of the world; in which women can and do succeed in non-traditional professions such as farming and engineering, and men can and do succeed in professions such as nursing and teaching. Positive approach can be inculcated through proper counseling. For this purpose a separate area would be specified for the counselors. Young girls and boys emotional and physical problems of adolescence can be well dealt. Teacher can get benefit when they are facing some problem in pupil- teacher relationship or peer relationship. Their thinking of stereotyping would be changed; the contribution of women to the development of society must be recognized and reflected in educational materials.

A balanced depiction of both genders in textual materials and teaching and learning aids is vital in changing the customs, attitudes, and practices towards women and men, on all social and political levels. It also helps to empower women by ensuring that they do not see themselves as being subordinate to men and by encouraging them to challenge unfair discrimination they may experience in society.


Co education from a gender equality perspective

It is therefore important to design such educational materials which are free of gender biases and stereotypes. It is also essential to establish a monitoring mechanism to ensure that gender sensitivity continues as a guiding principle at the implementation level.


To ensure that literacy materials are free of gender biases and stereotypes the following factors should be considered while designing schools curriculum:

Selection of Authors:

While selecting authors to write or prepare the literacy materials, appropriate gender balance (both men and women) should be ensured. The selected authors should be advised to remain gender-neutral while producing literacy material.

Addressing Gender Biases and Stereotypes in content and illustrations:

Mostly the content and illustration women are shown in a stereotypical role like washing clothes, husband coming home after work, boy reading and girl swinging which enforces gender stereotypes.

Whereas, men and women should instead be shown s sharing domestic work and girls should be shown as capable of engaging in learning activities. For example: an image of a man washing clothes along with his wife, or an image of girls studying together with their brother. Similarly selection of sports and assessment criteria for girls and boys should be the same so that there will be no gender biases even in extra co-curricular activities.


Co education from a gender equality perspective

Addressing Gender Biases and Stereotypes in Language:

In the literacy materials gender-neutral pronouns should be used with an equal balance of gender-specific, singular pronouns. Such language should not be used that perpetuate biases for example, are men described as ambitious while women in the same position are described as aggressive.

Inclusion of Sex Education in Syllabus as a Separate Subject:

Subject of sex education should be included in the syllabus. This will help boys and girls to learn how to live a healthy life. Sex education helps developing young people's skills so that they make informed choices about their behavior, and feel confident and competent about acting on these choices. It is widely accepted that young people have a right to sex education. This is because it is a means by which they are helped to protect themselves against abuse, exploitation, unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV and AIDS. It is also argued that providing sex education helps to meet young peoples rights to information about matters that affect them, their right to have their needs met and to help them enjoy their sexuality and the relationships that they form.

Potential: Social and cultural constraints: The introduction of a co-education school in which there is no gender biases will help in eradicating the menace of gender discrimination from our society. But for this strong commitment is required as extremist elements of our society will not tolerate such type of schools where boys and girls can openly interact with each other in a friendly environment. Lack of resources: The new methodologies for this plan to generate gender equality offer the challenge of providing an enriched curriculum on gender as it relates to different disciplines. Use of technology for such methodologies requires well equipped trainers and investment.


Co education from a gender equality perspective

Parent Body: Moreover, to convenience parents to get their children, especially girls, admitted in such schools will also be a tough task. For this purpose parents will have to be convinced that such schools are not promoting western culture but teaching children how to live respectfully with each other. Student freedom criteria: Furthermore, in such schools students should not have the feeling that they are free to do whatever they want rather with freedom they should feel the sense of responsibility.


From above discussion it is clear that only co-education schools which have gender neutral curriculum can change the mindset of our society and remove all sorts of gender biases against females and allowing them to become equally important and useful part of the society. Co education offers a wide variety of opportunities for both genders to excel in every field of life. The sharing of courses can lead to a vast improvement of the quality of education, whilst at the same time creating broadness and openness of mind at higher secondary students.


In order to achieve gender equality in education, the culture, policies and practices of education need to be reviewed and revised. One of the factors that must be addressed is that current educational materials that contain stereotyped depictions of males and females, which reinforce negative attitudes about women and perpetuate inequality. Thus, there is a need for changes in teaching and learning materials especially at the higher secondary level. Dedicated teacher will be required for this plan that is committed to transformation and able to initiate and carry through the reform over a prolonged period. Also an administrative support would be required who promotes gender equality in education system.


Co education from a gender equality perspective References

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Labour Organization (ILO). 2000. ABC of women workers rights and genderequality. Geneva: ILO.

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