A Maharashtra class 11 Sociology textbook is aiming to make students more progressive by inlcuding information on same-sex couples, live-in relationships and single parents.
Every now and then we come across news of Indian textbooks noting very regressive content that propagates narrow-minded notions. However, news has recently turned up regarding a class 11 Sociology textbook in Maharashtra wherein the concept of families isn’t limited to ‘nuclear’ and ‘joint’ types but also extends to same sex couple, single parents, live-in couples and step parents.
The progressive move was taken by the Maharashtra government which decided to update the class 11-12 Sociology syllabus to reflect the changes in society. As per a report in Hindustan Times, they want to teach students about how different cultures come together to create cultural hybridisation and how gender equality has a major role to play in human development.
What was the aim of changing the Sociology syllabus?
The sociology textbook is published by Balbharti and has been introduced for students from the current academic year 2019-20. The aim of the change in syllabus is to broaden the viewpoint of students, make them more inclusive, and get them acclimatised to a wider medley of cultural norms.
Vaishali Diwakar, the chairperson of the subject committee that framed the new curriculum, told Hindustan Times that as the society was changing, the committee wanted a book that reflected the change since students needed to learn more than just concepts. \
She said it was necessary to make students aware about the society and its changes and incorporate a broader view.
Teaching students about fluidity of gender roles in family structure
With the Supreme Court of India decriminalising homosexuality on September 6, 2018, it was high time that the changed laws of the country reflected in the textbooks of school students.
A line from the revised Sociology textbooks reads that the “historic verdict” “allowed gay sex among consenting adults in private”.
A module in the textbook on ‘Twenty-first-century families’ also states that many young couples in urban India and abroad are choosing to live together as a family, especially same-sex couples.
The text states: “live-in relations or cohabitation might not lead to marriage.” Thus the textbook teaches students that marriage is not compulsory for a consenting sexual relationship.
What are the other changes introduced by the Maharashtra government in the Sociology textbook?
Not only is the upgraded Sociology syllabus set to teach students about the fluidity of family types, but it will also talk a lot more about the need for equal pay and the necessity for women to be in policy-making positions so as to influence the direction of a state’s development.
While social media has been called an agent of socialisation, the textbook warns students against believing everything on reality shows as they promote bullying and the use of ‘harsh language’.
Moreover, the text also includes visual cues such as hijab-clad Barbies to depict cultural hydridisation.
How do people feel about the syllabus change?
Most teachers support this change and feel that they would need to ensure that students take away the right message from the textbook.
This move by the Maharashtra government was long overdue and is being hailed all over the country as a model of syllabus updation that reflects and promotes a better mindset for a better society. We can only hope to see similar steps being taken by all the state governments of India.