Caste biases in school textbooks: a case study from Odisha, India

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Research Article

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Journal of Curriculum Studies


This paper examines caste bias in Odia language textbooks prescribed by the Government in middle schools in the State of Odisha, India. The analysis focuses on 10 textbooks for Social Science and Odia literature prescribed for Classes IV to VIII. The framework proposed by Sadker and Zittleman (2007) to study gender bias in educational material in the United States is contextualized for an application to Indian textbooks. Content analysis identified seven types of bias, with ‘invisibility’ bias being the most important form of bias. This first-ever systematic analysis of caste bias within curricular material in India brings to fore the exclusion of Scheduled Castes. The persistence of caste bias across textbooks is in direct violation of the recommendations of the National Curriculum Framework-2005 and systematically creates an illusion that Indian society is an equitable one. We suggest that there is a need for further evaluation of regional language school textbooks to assess the extent of bias in curricular material.

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