“Should girls be educated?” – as regressive as the question might sound, the same is prescribed as a topic of debate in the Class 9 samacheer kalvi (uniform syllabus) English texts where students have to present different sides of the argument.
The debate figures as a language function exercise on page 155 of the Class 9 English textbook.While the intention of the exercise may be to discuss and raise awareness of education of the girl child, a section of people felt it was wrong for a fundamental right to become debatable.
S Mani, a parent, said that in a private school where his daughter studies, girls were initially asked to defend the topic while boys were asked to oppose it. “The topic is clearly being debated only for girls.I feel it is very inappropriate and backward for students to be even arguing this,” he said.
A Class 9 student of a school in Adyar said the teacher had asked students to prepare speeches instead so that no one was compelled to speak against educating girls when some students raised an objection. “The boys in class were upset about speaking against the issue of educating girls. Some of us asked for the topic to be changed as it is outdated. Our teacher changed the format to a speech but said she had to carry out the exercise in some form as it is a part of the syllabus. Finally, all of us spoke in support of education,” said the student.
Pointing out that gender sensitisation was the need of the hour, parents and teachers said debating education for girls, which is a fundamental right, was unhealthy.Revathy Bonns, principal and correspondent of MCC Matriculation HSS, Chetpet, which follows the samacheer kalvi syllabus, said this kind of a topic adds to the concept of male domination and should not be prescribed.
“Women are in top positions today. Our chief minister is a woman. This kind of a debate is unhealthy, especially for those in Class 9 which is a sensitive age for students,” she said.
President of Tamil Nadu Stu dents Parents Welfare Association, S Arumainathan, said the supervision of textbook content should be more meticulous and responsible.”This kind of a question may have been asked decades ago but we have come a long way since then.Such a topic should be changed,” he said.