Thiruvananthapuram: A father grating coconut in the kitchen and cooking snacks for his daughter might seem unusual in a patriarchal society. However, this is precisely the message conveyed in the new school textbooks in Kerala. The state government has introduced innovative textbooks that include gender-neutral messages.

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

As schools in the state reopened on Monday after a two-month summer vacation, the new textbooks featuring pictorial representations of family members, regardless of gender, involved in cooking and other kitchen chores are drawing widespread attention.

The innovative textbooks caught wide attention after state General Education Minister V Sivankutty shared a page from one of such textbooks in his Facebook post the other day, as reported by news agency PTI.

The minister shared a page from the Class 3 Malayalam medium textbook depicting a father sitting on the floor grating coconut while the mother is cooking dishes. In the English textbook, the father is shown cooking snacks for his daughter.

Teachers and students have wholeheartedly welcomed the inclusion of the gender equality concept in the textbooks, praising it as a “positive” step.

Pavithra Krishna, a lower primary student at a government school in nearby Vithura, said she was amused by the pictures in her new Malayalam textbook.

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

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Sindhu, teacher of a state-run school in the capital city, said it would surely give a positive message among students, cutting across genders.

“This is very positive. Knowingly or unknowingly, there is a general impression in our society that cooking and housework are the sole responsibilities of women. Children are also growing with this sense of feeling because that is what they see in their home,” she told PTI.

But the chapters and pictures in the new textbooks give the message that cooking and other housework are the collective responsibility of both father and mother, she said.

The teacher further said women are the ones who usually toil the most when it comes to household duties. 

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