New Gender Neutrality Concept Initiated by Kerala Govt in School Textbooks

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The objective is to instill the message of gender neutrality in children, authorities said.

A father grating coconut in the kitchen and cooking snacks for his daughter may seem unconventional in a patriarchal society. But what if this message is embedded in school textbooks?

This is happening in Kerala, where the state government has introduced innovative textbooks featuring gender-neutral messages. The goal is to foster the concept of gender neutrality in young minds, according to officials.

As schools in the state reopened on Monday after a two-month summer vacation, these textbooks, with pictorial depictions of family members of all genders participating in cooking and other kitchen chores, are garnering widespread attention.

The innovative textbooks gained significant attention when state General Education Minister V. Sivankutty shared a page from one such textbook on his Facebook page recently. The minister posted a page from the Class 3 Malayalam textbook, which shows a father sitting on the floor grating coconut while the mother is cooking. In the English textbook, a father is depicted cooking snacks for his daughter.

Teachers and students have warmly welcomed the inclusion of the gender equality concept in textbooks, praising it as a positive step. Pavithra Krishna, a lower primary student at a government school in Vithura, expressed her amusement at seeing the pictures in her new Malayalam textbook.

“I was turning the pages of the new book and was surprised to see the picture of a father scraping coconut in the kitchen. I showed it to my father and asked why he doesn’t do this at home,” she told  the resources.

Sindhu, a teacher at a state-run school in the capital city, believes this initiative will send a positive message to students, regardless of gender.

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