Schools have been considered sacred and temples of learning since time immemorial. Textbooks are compared to scriptures and their chapters considered the teaching of God. However, Indian textbooks have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons recently. The (un)impressive lessons being taught to young children with impressionable minds leave us appalled and frightened. Taking into consideration that the lessons taught in school stay with an individual for his entire life and form the foundation of his thought process, certain content of some Indian textbooks is seriously problematic and disturbing. Here are five instances when Indian textbooks left us scared and wanting to run for our lives.
1) When our books taught us about the “Perfect Female Figure”
The CBSE physical education textbook for class 12th students claimed that the 36”, 24”, 36” shape of females is the ‘best’ and that is why it is taken into consideration in different beauty pageants (Ultimate validation!). The book further propagates the idea that women can’t be good athletes because they have wider hip bones. Throwing light on the inherent patriarchy, sexism and narrow mindedness of our society, the book titled Health and Physical Education by Dr. V.K. Sharma created quite an uproar on social media and rightly so. Later an FIR was also lodged against the publisher by CBSE under the Section 6 of indecent representation of women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.
2) When we were taught that getting married is a girl’s ultimate dream
A book titled New Healthway: Health, Hygiene, Physiology, Safety, Sex Education, Games and Exercises, taught to Class 6 students, very densely exclaimed that the people who eat meat easily cheat, tell lies, commit sex crimes, steal and resort to violence. Published by S. Chand, the book makes several bizarre and ludicrous statements including unintelligent life lessons stating that girls should get married between the ages of 18-25 because to get married without a bad name is every girl’s dream (Of course, who cares about education or career, right?). In response to the public outrage regarding the ridiculous content of the book under consideration, the CBSE chief brushed off any responsibility by saying, “CBSE only recommends books for Class IX onwards. Books are chosen by individual schools. There is no monitoring of content of school books.”
3) The time we were taught that donkeys are better than housewives
The Hindi language primer, approved by the State of Rajasthan, made an objectionable and disgusting comparison between donkeys and housewives while stating that “they both have to toil all day and may even have to give up food and water”. It further went on to claim that donkeys are actually more loyal than housewives as they don’t whine or visit their parent’s home. Meant for the vulnerable minds of 14 years olds, the book sparked protests from different political parties. Dim-witted state education officials had the audacity to claim that this remark was made in good humor and nothing else.
4) The lesson that said Ugliness means more Dowry
We are a country obsessed with fairness that believes that beauty is directly proportional to an individual’s skin complexion. The class 12th sociology textbook of Maharashtra Board added fuel to the fire when it made a controversial claim that ‘if a girl is ugly and handicapped, it becomes difficult to find her a groom. The poor parents of such girls have to pay up’. The text drew criticism from a wide group of educationist and social activists alike. When asked about it, the then Education Minister Vinod Tawde said that the content of the textbook is old as it has been around for 3 years (because obviously it was acceptable then!).
5) The time we learnt that women are the cause of unemployment
As a nation, India is already grappling with the problem of letting women leave the boundaries of their homes and work for a living, not to mention the huge difference in pay. In the middle of this struggle, the Chhattisgarh Education Board has been teaching it’s 15 year old pupils that women are responsible for unemployment in the country leaving the concept of gender equality in shreds.
It is not only disheartening but also extremely distressing that even in the 21st century where our political representatives and officials talk about gender equality at every possible avenue have allowed such sexist and misogynistic lessons to be taught in classrooms to the next generation of our nation. It is high time that we revamp our education system and vet our books for such derogatory and stupid statements!
About the Author:
Writer. 18 years old. Pursuing B.A. Economics (Hons) from Department of Economic, PU. I am a Hindi poetry enthusiast and an avid reader. I love binge watching movie and sitcoms.