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Session 9

Can we teach the girls of the future with books of the past?
In today’s episode we will be discussing how men and women are portrayed in primary school textbooks around the world.

Kitaabilee duriin dubartoota labata borii barsiisuu dandeenyaa?
Kutaa qophii har’aan jarri dhiiraafi dubartoonni attamin kitaabilee mana barnootaa sadarkaa jalqabaa keessatti akka fakkeeffaman ilaalla.

Session 9 score

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Can we teach the girls of the future with books of the past?

Look at the Session Vocabulary – make sure you know what these words and expressions mean:

  • to portray
  • various experts
  • hidden in plain sight


What is the best-selling children’s book of all time? Is it:

     a. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
     b. Alice in Wonderland
     c. Harry Potter

Listen to the discussion about primary school textbooks and find out the answer.

Listen to find the answers. Then check them on the transcript below.

Show transcript Hide transcript

Yooyyaa! Gara English Together Afaan Ingilizii walii wajjiin mataduree tibbanaarratti mari’annuufi qooqa dubbachuuf si barbaachisu sii qoodnutti baga nagaan dhufte.
Ani Ammayyuudha. Mee nagaa gaafadhaa.

Hi, I’m Sam.

And I’m Kee. Welcome to the programme!

Har’a, kitaabilee barnootaa sadarkaa tokkoffaa addunyaa keessatti argaman irratti akkamin dhiirriifi dubartoonni akka fakkeeffaman dubbachuuf jirra. Kun nu ajaa’ibeera, kitaabileen biroo ijoolleen dubbisan maali? Egaa gaaffiin har’aa:
Kitaabni ijoollee haalaan gurgurame isa kami?
a. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
b. Alice in Wonderland
c. Harry Potter

I personally loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! I still do!

Oh, come on, you just like it because it involves chocolate!

Ha! My favourite children’s book was Kitaaba waa’ee qamalee barreeffame ture. Mariitti seenuu keenya dura garuu, kitaabilee mana barnootaa sadarkaa jalqabaa addunyaa guutuu keessatti gaheen koorniyaa dhiiraa fi dubaraa akkamitti akka dhiyaatu, firii qo’annoo dhiyeenya BBC’n odeeffate haacaqasnu.

News insert
Research suggests women are either shown in stereotype roles or seen as less valuable in primary school textbooks from all over the world. Professor Blumberg, from the University of Virginia, has been studying textbooks from around the world for over a decade, and says she has seen women systematically removed, or portrayed in roles where they serve men. Gender bias is extremely common in primary school learning books and can be found, in a noticeably similar form, on every continent – from Tanzania, to Haiti, to Pakistan, to Turkey, the list goes on and knows no geographical boundaries – various experts say. It is a problem ‘hidden in plain sight’.

Uhm, well, I’m trying to remember the textbooks that they used when I was in primary school…

Do you remember how they ‘portrayed’ jechuun fakkeeffaman men and women?

Not really... But I was helping my niece with her English homework last night, and I noticed that the women in her textbook were either mothers or sisters of the main character…

And the main character was male?

Yeah, and he was a sporty little boy who dreamed of becoming a doctor. And now that I think about it, there’s a lot of gender bias in the story.

‘Gender bias’ jechuun loogii koorniyaati. What did your niece think?

Yeah, did she notice that there was a gender bias against the female characters?

Well, I hope she didn’t. I mean, she likes science and she likes climbing trees, I don’t want her to think that she can only be one or two things when she grows up.

Like a princess or a bride…

Yeah, exactly!

Yeah, these stereotypes can be very difficult for boys, as well.

I agree. ‘Stereotype’ jechuun duuchaatti maqaa bahe yookiin maqaa baasuu jechuudha.

The stereotype is that boys like sports, and dream of becoming an astronaut or a soldier. But what about the little boys who have different interests, different dreams?

Yes, they need positive role models, as well.

‘Role model’ jechuun fakkeenya gaarii. Yes, all children need a lot of different role models, I think.

Absolutely! But, if they’re not seeing these role models in their school textbooks, where are they seeing them?

Maybe in the other books they’re reading?

Ahaa, gaaffii keenya jalqabaatti haadeebinu. Kitaabni ijoollee gabaa irratti baay’ee gurgurame kami?
a. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
b. Alice in Wonderland
c. Harry Potter
Akka ragaalee hedduutti deebiin isaa c) Harii Pootari. Dow’iin Harii Pootar Afaan 69’tti hiikameera akkasumas koppiin miliyoona 450 ta’u guutuu addunyaatti gurgurameera.

I haven’t read them, but I know the main character is a boy…

Yeah, but there are many strong female characters! In the books the boys and girls have equal rights, I think.

‘Equal rights’ jechuun mirgoota walqixaa jechuudha. Doesn’t the female character always solve the problems the male characters create?

Yes, she does! Just like me and you, Kee?

Oh, come one! Equal rights are for men, too, you know.

Atihoo? Kitaabilee yeroo barataa sadarkaa jalqabaa turte fayyadamte yaadattaa? ‘Stereotypes’ wahii qabu turee? Yeroo guddattu kan si fayyade ‘role models’ qaba ture jettee yaaddaa?
Barnoota torban kanaa goolabuu keenya dura, jechoota har’a dubbachaa turre haa ilaallu –hundi isaanii gahee dhiirriifi dubartoonni hawaasa keessatti qaban waliin hidhata qabu. ‘Gender bias’ loogii koorniyaa, ‘stereotype’ yaadaa hindhugoomne/duuchumaan maqaa bahe, ‘role model’ fakkeenya gaarii, ‘equal rights’ mirgoota walqixaadha.
Waan nu waliin turteef galatoomi. English Together Afaan Ingilizii Walii Wajjiin dabalataaf torban dhufu wal agarra.


Meaning & Use 

a gender bias (noun phrase)

Gender is the state of being male or female. Another word for this is 'sex'.
 A) Mary and Luke just had their baby!
 B) Oh really? What's the gender?
 A) It's a little girl.

A bias is the 'a feeling or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way that is considered unfair'. We often use it with the prepositions towards or against.
 He wrote many history books but he showed a strong bias towards the Second World War. It was his favourite period.
 There is a bias against younger applicants for the job. They are loooking for a more experienced candidate.

A gender bias refers to unfair treatment of or behaviour towards one gender.
 Films used to show a strong gender bias towards men and against women, but that's changing now. Not only men can be superheroes!

a stereotype (noun)

A stereotype is 'an image or idea of a particular type of person or thing that is generally thought to be true but is often oversimplified'.
 People often think that in England everyone drinks tea at 4 o'clock. But it's a stereotype. I'm English, and I don't even like tea!

To stereotype is the verb, meaning 'to make oversimplified general statements about a particular type of person or thing'.
 It's easy to stereotype other countries when you don't know anything about them.

a role model (noun)

A role model is 'a person who is a pisitive example to others'.
 I really looked up to my big brother when I was a child. He was, and still is, a role model to me.

equal rights (noun phrase)

If you have a right to do something, it means that 'you are allowed to do it'. 
 I have a right to express my opinion freely, even if you don't agree with it.

Equal means 'the same'.
 Add equal amounts of water and flour, then mix everything together.

Equal rights is a noun phrase used to talk about 'the rights of all citizens to equal treatment under the law', and about people 'having the same status or opportunities'.
 Everyone should have equal rights, no matter their race, gender or religion. 

Can we teach the girls of the future with books of the past?

4 Questions

Choose the correct answer.
Deebii sirrii ta’e fili.

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

Over to you!

Do you remember any of the textbooks you used when you were in primary school? Did they have any stereotypes? Do you think you had positive role models growing up? Tell us on our Facebook group.

Join us for our next episode of English Together when we will learn more useful language and practise your listening skills.
Barnoota English Together ittaanu kan dandeettii caqasuukee ittiin shaakaltuufi qooqa barbaachisoo barannutti walitti deebina.

Session Vocabulary

  • gender bias
    loogii korniyaa

    a stereotype
    maqaa baasuu

    a role model
    fakkeenya gaarii

    equal rights
    mirgoota walqixaa

    to portray

    various experts
    ekispartoota garaa garaa

    hidden in plain sight
    hubatamuu dhabuu