Vietnam textbooks reinforcing gender stereotypes: study

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Ilustrations in Vietnam's textbooks show men as professionals and women as housewives.

A recent study of primary school textbooks in Vietnam indicates a reinforcing of gender stereotypes that could weaken efforts to end gender discrimination in the education system.

The study by Nguyen Thi Minh Tuyet, a lecturer of social sciences at the Hanoi-based Academy of Journalism and Communication, found a lot of gender stereotypes in current textbooks used from grades one to five.

Ten textbooks with 487 lessons give children the idea that only men can do jobs that need intelligence and strength while women mostly do housework, Tuyet said.

Tuyet said the study checked both the main and supporting characters in the illustrations, and in any role, men are always construction supervisors, police officer, pilots, doctors, or scientists, while women are always taking simple jobs that require little professional capacity, like housewives and dressmakers.

There are no depictions of woman researchers and scientists and the only intellectual job the women are given is teaching, she said.

Farming, a labor-consuming job with low income, is also depicted with more women than men.

Tuyet said the illustrations are painting a society in which the women are supposed to take care of the family while men work outside the home.

Such reinforcing early in the life of children will make it impossible to fight for gender equality in the society, she said.


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"Gender equality will be impossible if later generations continue to be educated with gender stereotypes," the lecturer said.

She said this kind of education will create and maintain a formula for labor distribution according to gender, which gives men jobs to create material values and limit women to positions creating cultural and spiritual values.

A representative from the Primary Education Department at the Ministry of Education and Training said that the ministry has asked Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences to look into the matter and study textbooks of all grades.

The ministry will make adjustments if it is really necessary, the officer said.

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