Both sexual harassment and the kinds of responses from the accused in the MeToo Campaign lay bare a critical failure of our education system. Do you agree? Comment. (15 Marks)

Mentor Comments:

  • https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-gender curriculum/article25540532.ece?homepage=true
  • The article examines the role of education in ending sexism and misogyny that the present education system has failed to deliver.
  • The question wants us to express our opinion as to whether or not, the unfolding of the MeToo movement in India points out to the failure of our education system. We have to form our opinion based on a proper discussion and presentation of valid arguments and facts.
  • Write a few introductory lines about the MeToo movement which shook the world, including India last year.
  • In the main body of the answer, discuss how the movement highlights the failure of our education system. E.g The purpose of education is not to only ensure that people secure employment or rise to coveted positions of power alone, it is also to ensure that they learn and practice equality and mutual respect. Many of the accused are qualified, educated men. Their actions compel us to ask whether those years spent in school, college and university have been unsuccessful in instilling basic values. It seems as though rising to top positions and enjoying power have emboldened men to behave in unacceptable ways, and the education system has done nothing to prevent this.
  • It is not uncommon to hear of incidents of sexual harassment being justified as “casual flirting” or being attributed to the offender’s “glad eye”. Using these terms to explain away or even justify these acts reflects the depth and expanse of the problem; blatant display of inappropriate behaviour, which makes women uncomfortable, shows that men in power enjoy the impunity that accompanies attitudes and acts entrenched in patriarchy.
  • Our education system is failing to teach boys and men to recognise, challenge and refrain from sexist and even unlawful behaviour must be acknowledged and tackled
  • Conclude with an optimistic and to the point way forward.

Answer:

India is experiencing its second wave of the MeToo movement, in which women across the world some of them public figures, have levelled sexual harassment charges against certain men, many of whom occupy powerful positions in media. Last year, a list of prominent academicians alleged to have sexually harassed female colleagues/students was put out on social media.

How the MeToo movement highlights the failure of India’s education system:

  • Gender equality is neglected: The purpose of education is not to only ensure that people secure employment or rise to coveted positions of power alone, it is also to ensure that children learn and practice equality and mutual respect which is not emphasized much in the Indian education system.
  • Position defines power: Many of the accused are qualified, educated men. Their actions make people question whether education has been unsuccessful in instilling basic values.
    • It seems as though rising to top positions and enjoying power have emboldened men to behave in unacceptable ways.
  • Incidents are considered lightly: It is not uncommon to hear of incidents of sexual harassment being justified as casual flirting. Using these terms to explain away or even justify these acts reflects the depth and expanse of the problem.
  • Patriarchal mindset is dominant: Men in power enjoy the impunity that accompanies attitudes and acts entrenched in patriarchy.
    • Education system is failing to teach boys and men to recognise, challenge and refrain from sexist and unlawful behaviour
  • Education means success: Among other things, education has the basic duty of ensuring that people become socially aware and sensitive beings who know how to interact and engage with people of different genders, castes, classes and communities. This is neglected.

Way forward:

  • There must be efforts to incorporate a gender curriculum in all school and college classrooms.
  • Schools need to establish anti-sexual harassment cells, organise regular awareness programmes on consent across the country, and formulate measures to address incidents of sexual harassment.
  • Schools must teach students that consent is an essential component of any interaction and that decisions, even of refusal, must be respected.
  • Campaigns like Operation Nirbheek, initiated to improve the safety and security of girls in schools, have proven to be successful to a large extent. Interventions in educational institutions will be a much-needed start to strengthen voices against sexual harassment and make homes and workplaces safe.
  • The police should initiate community engagement drives so that students know how to report sexual harassment.
  • Parents need to focus on inculcating values in their children more rather than focusing on the marks their children get.

 It is imperative that we begin early if we are to secure a closure to our #MeToo experiences.

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Kunal Aggarwal
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Reply to  Chester

I somehow find the answers little weak. they lack that impact it should create in my mind. That yes, it is the failure of our education system that such abuse happened at such a large scale not just from outside family members but also by members of women’s families like their uncles. In addition to this when people reacted and rejected these allegations, it reflects the lack of values. the system failed to bring equality, sensitivity and respect for women. It failed to build a society where people own up their mistake. It failed to break the shackles of patriarchy. How did the media and rest of society reacted to this? – most of it just was neglected as well. What does education system reflect here?

Also, in such questions, the conclusions have to be stronger. These are issues to which people connect very well mostly. A balanced but strong answer to strengthen our education system. Such as gender sensitivity classes, redesign curriculum to break that power equation between men and women. Minds are build in early stages so this change has to begin early in the childhood. Education is beyond schools and books. We need to reach out to homes through education system. Adult education as well. Sex education. All of this can be touched depending upon time and length of the answer.

I think you can bring in more structuring/organisation/classification in answer around 3-4 major points. Try this. It may help.