Inclusion of Hijra issue in textbooks: The discussion has started in Bangladesh
Bandhu Social Welfare Society (Bandhu), organised a seminar with the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) officials, academics and cultural activists in the capital’s Tawfiq Aziz Khan hall, The Daily Star Centre, Dhaka on 18th June 2016.
A chapter on hijra needs to be included in school textbooks to create a positive impression among people about transgender people, speakers told in this seminar.
They also recommended ensuring education for people of the third gender, helping the sexual minorities develop their living standards.
.“NCTB can add a chapter in textbooks of class VI, VIII and IX-X about the identity and lifestyles of hijra people,” said Fosiul Ahsan, director of Programme at Bandhu.
“If there is not enough space…NCTB can add a small paragraph instead, considering the positive outcome,” he said.
Ananya, a member of the community working as a liaison officer of BANDHU, said, “Hijras are also part of the country like men and women. They should not be neglected.”
A teacher of Viqarunnesa Noon School and College, Sangeeta Inam, said teachers need to have a positive mentality to give lessons on hijras. She recommended training up teachers to build up this mindset before including the chapter.
Prof Robayet Ferdous of Dhaka University said the chapter could address some of the negative ideas mass people have about hijras.
Besides, the government needs to emphasise on education for hijras. If hijras can be well educated, they will be able to change their current status and seek their rights, he said.
Boby, a member of the community working for their rights, said, “We can change our current miserable situation by attaining education and we can also contribute for the country by getting employed in different professions.”
However, NCTB officials thought adding a new chapter in textbooks would make books heavier, recommending teaching facts about hijras through a “supplementary reading material instead of including a new chapter”.
“It is difficult for us to include everything… (making it tougher) to finish the curriculum on time. Besides, people of different groups and communities make this type of demand. We cannot fulfill all of the demands because of our limitations,” said Dr Ratan Siddique, member of Textbook at NCTB.
The supplementary reading material “will be more helpful than a textbook chapter, because students will only memorise the chapter to get (better) marks instead of learning the facts”, he said.
He also said NCTB would take up initiatives to train teachers to disseminate knowledge about the third gender.
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