Academic journal article International Education Studies

Gender-Based Content of Educational Materials for the Study of Serbian Language in Lower-Stage Grades of Elementary Education

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Gender-Based Content of Educational Materials for the Study of Serbian Language in Lower-Stage Grades of Elementary Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper presents the results of analysis of educational materials for the study of Serbian language in lower-stage grades of elementary education (intended for students from 7 through 11 years old) from gender perspective. The first part of the paper presents the process of institutionalization of gender-based education in the Republic of Serbia after the year 2000, when gender issues became highlighted as an integral part of the overall reform of education within the implementation of education for democracy and civil society. Declarative commitment to developing gender sensitivity has led to changes in the curriculum for elementary education and, presumably, changes in the selection of educational materials for different school subjects. The authors intended to determine whether educational materials for Serbian language honor the principle of gender equality in the selection of literary texts. The presence and nature of gender-based content in reading books from different publishers, for second and third grade, was determined by using the method of content analysis. The aim was to establish empirical evidence that would show the degree of gender sensitivity of analyzed educational materials and their compliance with the strategic commitment to gender mainstreaming in education.

The authors are aware of the range of this micro-level research, and the impossibility to reach general conclusions, however, in their opinion, the obtained data may shed a light on at least one part of the mosaic of the complex relationship of education, educational material and gender equality in contemporary Serbian society. The following conclusions were drawn: (a) the analyzed educational material serves the function of developing gender sensitivity; (b) the principle of gender equality is respected in selection of the material; (c) the distinguished gender characteristics go beyond the so-called traditional gender pattern.

Keywords: elementary education, gender-based content, literary text

1. Introduction

At the basis of the reform of education in Serbia after the year 2000, lies the democratization of education based on principles of equality and participation, which generated the educational action for promoting equality between men and women. Based on international documents, which provide standards on gender sensitivity in education (Recommendation 1281 (1995) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on gender equality in education; Recommendation CM/Rec (2007) 13 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on gender mainstreaming in education and explanatory memorandum; Recommendation CM/Rec (2007) 17 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on gender equality standards and mechanisms, etc.) and national standards (Law on the Fundamentals of the Education System, 2009; Law on Elementary Schools, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009; Law on Textbooks and Other Teaching Aids, 2009, etc.), the commitment of Serbian society to introduce education for young people that promotes gender equality is clearly evident.

In order to keep up with educational trends of the so-called contemporary European society, the educational strategy of the Republic of Serbia has put the issues of democratization and human rights in the foreground. Highlighting these issues may indirectly bring to a conclusion that in the previous (socialist) social system, gender discrimination used to exist at different levels of education. The facts, however, show that the process of democratization of education, which began in the fifties of the last century, affected almost all newly arrived generations included in compulsory elementary education. Analysis of school work achievement at the beginning of the eighties, showed that only a small number of young people was not included in elementary education (about 2-3%), or that they left school before finishing it, and the percentage of those continuing their education after elementary school was about 95% (Ratkovic, 1984; Ivanovic, 2005). …

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