Project Samatha: The field work (October 2019 – March 2021)

A team of academicians and social workers started work on this project to understand how gender plays out in low-income classrooms in Hyderabad and how teachers can be sensitised to the inherent biases developed out of their own social conditioning. We started with desk research, led by Aishwarya Joshi, to understand the work that has already been done in this field. We then did detailed interviews of some teachers and also did classroom observation in low-income private schools to understand how the teacher’s mindset regarding gender is playing out in the classroom. We then roped in industry experts Prof Deepa Kilambi, Prof Deepa Srinivas and others to help us flesh out the content for a three-day teacher training program that was scheduled for April 2020. When Covid struck, the training format was made online.

The training consisted of nine two-hour modules that were delivered over a period of two weeks. Twenty teachers were part of the first cohort in September 2020 and another twenty were part of the second cohort in November 2020. We then identified 15 teachers who showed real passion for the cause and were ready to become master trainers. They were trained over a two-day workshop in December 2020. From Jan to March 2021, these master trainers conducted a number of training sessions with parents and other teachers at government schools and low-income schools.

Many teachers told us later that the training helped them change their thinking in many ways. One of the small changes they made were in the kind of toys they bought for their own children and that they were more open to buying cars and cricket sets for their daughters and kitchen sets for their boys. During the training, teachers mentioned that they automatically gave out chores that involved outdoor work or moving furniture etc to boys and art and craft related work to the girls.

They also typically segregated boys and girls in the classroom with respect to seating arrangements, sending children out in sex wise pairs or groups.

Preparing the manual (April 2021 – April 2022)

The team was very enthused when we finished the training. We could see the value in the work that was done and so did the US consulate. So, the project was extended and we worked on condensing all the content from the workshops and presenting in the formal of a manual or handbook. This handbook can be used by educators to learn about gender roles and stereotypes, role of patriarchy, toxic masculinity and other topics related to gender constructs. The educators can reflect on their own socialisation and also consider how they are interacting with children in the classroom. The handbook is for self-learning and also provides a framework to conduct a training session or workshop for 1 day, two days or three days. This book has emerged out of our research and field experiences on conducting gender sensitisation sessions for teachers in Sheikpet Mandal, Hyderabad.

The manual can be freely downloaded here. To get a hard copy or find out more about the content you can write to us at contact@kriti.org.in

Chief Guest Ms Divya Devarajan, IAS and others at the launch event for the handbook.

The Core Facilitator team along with Assistants

Professor Shantha Sinha delivering the Keynote address

Parents and Teachers workshop being conducted by Master Trainers

Parents and teachers at a Gender sensitization workshop