Children, Gender and School Curricula in Saudi Arabia


  •  Thikra Ghalib    

Abstract

The present study investigates the effect of gender representation in Saudi Arabian school curricula on children’s value systems and social character. In particular, the study examines gender distribution in first-grade school textbooks in Saudi Arabia where schooling, and education at large, is single-sex throughout. The data for the study is constituted by six textbooks prescribed for the first school semester at boys’ and girls’ schools. The study attempts a content analysis of the texts and illustrations in these textbooks in order to examine the representation, indeed construction, for the children of society and the stereotypical social roles of its members. Analysis reveals a gendered representation. Women suffer low visual and verbal visibility, and are almost completely denied occupations. Moreover, social activity is segregated by gender, with women appearing mostly in indoor activities and men in outdoor activities. The paper concludes by revisiting these findings against the backcloth of the idiosyncratic religious and cultural character of the Saudi society in which gender differences are normalized. 



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