Gender and Class in the Imagined Educational Spaces in Pakistani Primary School Textbooks: A Challenge for Inclusivity Agenda

Published - Dec 4, 2022

Post-COVID educational planning demands an urgent re-evaluation of the inclusivity of our educational systems, now that almost 24 million learners, a majority of these girls and the poor in developing countries, are at the risk of dropping out. This paper explores the discursive inclusivity of some primary level textbooks used in government and low-fee private schools in Pakistan. An analysis of the intersection of gender and class in 38 ‘imagined’ educational spaces (classrooms/schools and related contexts) appearing in the textbooks revealed that the discourse strongly excluded and legitimized the absence of working class females, while marginalizing those from middle class. Education appears to be largely irrelevant to the lives of females across classes, just as they themselves appear to be knowledge construction. The normalized presence in education is that of middle-class males, with some peripheral space for those from working-class males. Foucault’s theoretical framework reveals exclusionary techniques of: a) spatial exclusion b) exclusivity of the right to speak what counts as knowledge; c) construction of differential enabling possibilities. Although transgressive at times, the discourse never challenges the dominant norms, highlighting a worrisome aspect in textbooks that need to be addressed by policy makers and educationists.

Cite this publication

Bari, F., Humayun, A.,  Tamim, T., (2022) Gender and class in the imagined educational spaces in Pakistani primary school textbooks: a challenge for inclusivity agenda, Cogent Education, 9:1, DOI: 10.1080/2331186X.2022.2146858

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