Textbook availability and content

Textbooks are manuals of instruction that should ensure three principles, as highlighted by UNESCO (2014): their accessibility for all, their quality and relevance to the curriculum and their efficacity as a tool for peace and global citizenship.

Textbooks are an essential part of the teaching and learning material (TLM). Governments should pay particular attention to their provision to ensure equal access to quality textbooks for all learners. Decision-makers must find a balance between textbooks affordability and quality. Moreover, to respect the generally agreed learner-centred pedagogy, textbook provision and content must be decided according to the wide and diverse learners’ needs. Overall, a sustainable, affordable, and accessible textbooks-related policy can have a positive impact on education quality, equity, and access.

In addition to textbooks, it is also relevant to pay attention to teacher guides. These documents are often edited together with textbooks to help teachers follow the curriculum, but also adapt to students’ pedagogical needs. The provision of sufficient textbooks and teacher guides ensure a coherent pedagogy, benefiting both pupils and teachers.

References
UNESCO. 2014e. Textbooks and learning resources: guidelines for developers and users. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232222e.pdf

Promising policy options

Sustainable, secure and transparent system

To ensure a sustainable, secure, and transparent textbook provision system, multiple aspects should be kept in mind. First of all, a national book policy can be developed with adapted regulation, laws and institutional capacities to avoid bypasses and piracy. Audit of the budget spent on textbook’s provision should also be ensured, both at centralised and decentralised level. This will allow relevant stakeholders to track the money spent on textbooks and ensure the sustainability of the provision, while avoiding corruption issues. Both decentralised and centralised offices of the ministry, should officially declare the number of textbooks needed so that the budget can be traced, and the provision matches the exact quantity needed.

Another option is to equip schools or the community with accountability mechanisms, such as providing them official list of orders which they can verify. The community can also be involved in audit tasks. Assessment of the procurement process can also be done by professional officers, every four or five years through availability surveys. This will help measure progress, and ensure changes are implemented when needed. Smaller surveys can also be carried out more regularly to assess the exact level of teaching and learning materials (TLM) at the school/classroom level.

References
Adebayo, B.R. 2019. ‘Curriculum and Textbook Program Development Provision Comparison In China, Mexico, The Caribbean And Nigeria: The Way Forward’. In: Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 2039. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=3810

Marinelli, C.V.; Martelli, M.; Praphamontripong, P.; Zoccolotti, P.; Abadzi, H.. 2013. ‘First Part: Textbook format and visual effects on learning to read in young children’. In: Visual and linguistic factors in literacy acquisition: instructional implications for beginning readers in low – income countries, Washington D.C.: The World Bank; Global Partnership in Education. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/16244

UNESCO. 2014e. Textbooks and learning resources: guidelines for developers and users. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232222e.pdf

Coherent content

Textbooks should follow curricula for the schooling to be coherent and should be updated when there are changes. This also helps teachers to have material support for their lessons and give them the main keys to deliver them. Textbook content should be context-based. As illustrated by Adebayo (2019), this is a current practice in China where content is developed in a decentralised manner and aims to cater to the needs of all children, even those in the most rural areas.

Colours, illustrations, charts, maps, diagrams and text density are important to consider and should be set according to the grade. Their appropriateness can improve pupils’ concentration and understanding and encourage them to use textbooks.

References
Adebayo, B.R. 2019. ‘Curriculum and Textbook Program Development Provision Comparison In China, Mexico, The Caribbean And Nigeria: The Way Forward’. In: Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 2039. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=3810

Marinelli, C.V.; Martelli, M.; Praphamontripong, P.; Zoccolotti, P.; Abadzi, H.. 2013. ‘First Part: Textbook format and visual effects on learning to read in young children’. In: Visual and linguistic factors in literacy acquisition: instructional implications for beginning readers in low – income countries, Washington D.C.: The World Bank; Global Partnership in Education. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/16244

UNESCO. 2014e. Textbooks and learning resources: guidelines for developers and users. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232222e.pdf

Making inclusive content, human-right based, global citizenship approach

Textbooks’ text, illustrations, characters, and roles must be gender-responsive and inclusive. They should also include a human-right based, global citizenship approach.

Textbooks should highlight different points of view or be written in different languages to avoid offering one strict vision of the society in countries where there are various ones (cultural, linguistic and religious diversity). Overall, textbook content should be free from prejudice.

Textbooks should also promote the environment. Textbooks’ authors should refer to some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and stress the importance for the young and next generations to take care of the environment and sensitize them to these issues. Promoting actions related to SDGs 11(sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 13 (climate action) will for sure have an impact on children’s minds about the respect of the environment.

References
Adebayo, B.R. 2019. ‘Curriculum and Textbook Program Development Provision Comparison In China, Mexico, The Caribbean And Nigeria: The Way Forward’. In: Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 2039. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=3810

UNESCO. 2007. Gender bias in textbooks: a hidden obstacle on the road to gender equality in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001555/155509e.pdf

UNESCO. 2015d. Promoting gender equality through textbooks: a methodological guide. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001588/158897E.pdf

UNESCO. 2016g. Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development; Global Education Monitoring Report: Policy paper 28. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002467/246777E.pdf

UNESCO. 2016h. UNESCO guidebook on textbook research and textbook revision. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001171/117188E.pdf

UNESCO. 2017c. Making textbook content inclusive: a focus on religion, gender, and culture. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002473/247337e.pdf

Teachers’ role

Teachers can help in the redaction (or revision) of textbooks and should be trained to use these textbooks effectively in class. The content of textbooks can either only give teachers basic information for them to construct a class lesson, or can provide almost all the necessary information for the pupils.

Teacher guides, when produced together with textbooks, can give pedagogical keys to teachers, allowing them to teach the curriculum in the best possible way. Decision-makers should not underestimate the importance of teacher guides and dedicate a certain part of the budget to their development and provision. Three main issues must be considered:

  • The quality of the guides: guides should be aligned with the curriculum. They should illustrate the main objectives and examples of activities to organize inside the classroom.
  • Their availability in the school: ensuring their availability to all teachers is of key importance. When this is not possible due to scarce resources, sharing manuals between teachers can be a favourable solution. This could even encourage them to communicate and share their teaching experience.
  • The possibility to have access to these resources online.

* For more on this subject, consult Policy page Teacher guides and lesson plans.

Other policy options

Making a cost-effective textbook policy

Two main policies exist to ensure a cost-effective textbook policy:

  • Consumer funding: the State provides funds to the schools or parents for them to buy textbooks, encouraging decentralisation and diversification of choice according to the demand.
  • Producer funding: the State funds the textbook suppliers, encourages centralised supply.

In both options, the State can also provide free textbooks for all. This is the case for primary school students in countries like China and Mexico (Adebayo, 2019).

Multiple ways of textbook provision exist. The State can have a monopoly of only one textbook or provide a list of approved textbooks. The private sector can also have a monopoly or a list of approved textbooks. The questions raised, in any of those scenarios, are relative to the diversity of the textbooks offered. A list of approved textbooks can take into account the social diversity of the pupils and adapt to it, whereas the monopoly provides equal and similar education support to all pupils. The difference between State and private sector provision decisions is that prices can be lower if the private sector brings competitiveness. However, it should be kept in mind that, in such a scenario, textbooks may differ from existing curricula.  

The textbook chain of production can also have multiple configurations. It can be organized as a public-private partnership; be set up through a State centralised decision; include competitive bidding by private actors; or the State can have a monopoly with printers, publishers, and distributors.

A final element that needs to be taken into consideration is the rationalization of textbook costs. This can be achieved through the reduction of the textbook’s size and the number of pages, by prioritising certain subjects and core content, by choosing the paper quality or by using four colours. Note that these decisions need to be considered while keeping in mind the quality and usefulness of the resulting textbooks.

References
Adebayo, B.R. 2019. ‘Curriculum and Textbook Program Development Provision Comparison In China, Mexico, The Caribbean And Nigeria: The Way Forward’. In: Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 2039. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=3810

DFID (Department for International Development). 2010. Learning and Teaching Materials: Policies and Practices for Provision. London: DFID. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67621/lrng-tch-mats-pol-prac-prov.pdf

Fredriksen, B.; Brar, S.; Trucano, M. 2015. Getting Textbooks to Every Child in SubSaharan Africa; Strategies for Addressing the High Cost and Low Availability Problem. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/21876/9781464805400.pdf;sequence

The World Bank. 2015b. Where Have All the Textbooks Gone? Toward Sustainable Provision of Teaching and Learning Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa Teachers guide. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://allchildrenreading.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Where-Have-All-the-Textbooks-Gone.pdf

UNESCO. 2005a. A Comprehensive strategy for textbooks and learning materials. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001437/143736eb.pdf

UNESCO. 2016b. Every child should have a textbook. Policy Paper 123; Global Education Monitoring Report 2016. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002433/243321E.pdf

Textbook development

Textbooks have been found to be a cost-effective measure ‘to upgrade academic achievement and increase the effectiveness of a school system (Neumann and Cunningham, 1982)’ (Adebayo, 2019: 6). Textbook development can be done through a centralised or decentralised system.

Countries such as China, have opted for a decentralised system. The central government supports qualified institutions and personnel to develop high-quality textbooks, following established standards (Adebayo, 2019). A review process is conducted by the National Primary and Secondary School Textbook Review Commission for national-use textbooks. For local-use textbooks, the review process is pursued by the provincial textbook review commission. As explained by Adebayo (2019) this factor has allowed textbooks’ content to be adapted to the specific needs of the children they have been developed for.

Other countries, such as Mexico and countries in the Caribbean, have opted for a centralised textbook development system (Adebayo, 2019). Yet, even in centralised systems, research highlights the importance of involving teachers, parents, students, the community, and other stakeholders, in textbook development to ensure that they are fully adapted to children’s reality (Adebayo, 2019). For instance, efforts have been made in the Caribbean to develop textbooks based on the cultural and historical backgrounds of the populations they aim to serve (Adebayo, 2019).

References
Adebayo, B.R. 2019. ‘Curriculum and Textbook Program Development Provision Comparison In China, Mexico, The Caribbean And Nigeria: The Way Forward’. In: Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 2039. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=3810

Provision to improve fair distribution

Just as textbook development, the provision of textbooks can be either centralised or decentralised. In certain cases, bulk or local level purchases can help avoid corruption and waste of scarce resources. Bulk purchases can also help decrease textbook prices.

Moreover, in case of scarce resources and when not all schools have access to textbooks, one possibility could be to reduce the ratio of textbooks per pupil. It could change from 1:1 to 1:2 or 1:3 in all other schools to ensure full coverage of textbooks in all schools. Then, progressively aim at having one textbook per pupil. Conversely, another strategy would be to reduce the number of textbooks required per pupil for given subjects.

Having good quality paper and covers will secure textbooks’ use for several years without having to be replaced, and thus implies a more efficient use of resources in the long run, even if it means a higher initial investment.

References
Adebayo, B.R. 2019. ‘Curriculum and Textbook Program Development Provision Comparison In China, Mexico, The Caribbean And Nigeria: The Way Forward’. In: Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 2039. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=3810

DFID (Department for International Development). 2010. Learning and Teaching Materials: Policies and Practices for Provision. London: DFID. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67621/lrng-tch-mats-pol-prac-prov.pdf

Fredriksen, B.; Brar, S.; Trucano, M. 2015. Getting Textbooks to Every Child in SubSaharan Africa; Strategies for Addressing the High Cost and Low Availability Problem. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/21876/9781464805400.pdf;sequence

The World Bank. 2015b. Where Have All the Textbooks Gone? Toward Sustainable Provision of Teaching and Learning Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa Teachers guide. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://allchildrenreading.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Where-Have-All-the-Textbooks-Gone.pdf

UNESCO. 2005a. A Comprehensive strategy for textbooks and learning materials. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001437/143736eb.pdf

UNESCO. 2016b. Every child should have a textbook. Policy Paper 123; Global Education Monitoring Report 2016. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002433/243321E.pdf

E-material, e-textbooks, CD-ROM

Some countries are considering substituting totally paper textbooks to e-material. However, this can cost a lot without having the expected results. Governments should rather use e-material as a complement to existing teaching and learning materials.

For instance, the World Bank initiated diverse projects to include ICTs in education. One example is the program One Laptop per Child – OLPC- first implemented in Peru in 2012.  This program aimed at providing each child with a laptop. Around one million devices were distributed. Yet, even if results about the access to technologies are optimistic, education outcomes are more mitigated (based on reading and math results).

References
Trucano, M. 2013. Mobile learning and textbooks of the future, e-reading and edtech policies: Trends in technology use in education in developing countries. Excerpts from the World Bank’s EduTech blog (Volume IV). Washington, DC: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/EduTechBlog2012_all_the_posts.pdf

UNESCO. 2014e. Textbooks and learning resources: guidelines for developers and users. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002261/226135e.pdf

UNESCO. 2016h. UNESCO guidebook on textbook research and textbook revision. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001171/117188E.pdf

Further questions

Storage and libraries in schools

In both, centralised and decentralised textbook provision systems, particular attention should be paid on warehouses’ quality and location. Textbooks must be stored in good conditions and their distribution should be eased through accessible and strategic locations (to learn more from Mexico’s challenges with the textbook distribution process, consult Adebayo, 2019). This question is essential to ensure an effective distribution, and thus, proper access to textbooks to students.

Adequate storage in school libraries also allows students to access books and textbooks freely in school. Good conservation should be ensured. Community members can be encouraged to takea part in textbook storage and conservation tasks.

References
Adebayo, B.R. 2019. ‘Curriculum and Textbook Program Development Provision Comparison In China, Mexico, The Caribbean And Nigeria: The Way Forward’. In: Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 2039. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=3810

Fredriksen, B.; Brar, S.; Trucano, M. 2015. Getting Textbooks to Every Child in SubSaharan Africa; Strategies for Addressing the High Cost and Low Availability Problem. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/21876/9781464805400.pdf;sequence

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2012. E-books: Developments and Policy Considerations. OECD Digital Economy Papers, No. 208. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: https://ideas.repec.org/cgibin/get_doc.pl?urn=RePEc%3Aoec%3Astiaab%3A208en&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdx.doi.org%2F10.1787%2F5k912zxg5svh-en

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

Promising policy options

Making textbooks accessible to all students

Brugeilles and Cromer (2009) illustrate the link between girls’ underachievement and textbooks. One of the explanations given is the fact that girls’ access to textbooks is lower than that of boys. It is recommended that Ministries of Education and schools explore and develop management systems to track textbooks’ usage and ensure that all students benefit equally from textbooks available (Brugeilles and Cromer, 2009; Mlama et al., 2005).

References
Brugeilles, C.; Cromer, S. 2009. Promoting Gender Equality through Textbooks: A Methodological Guide. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from : https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf000015889 7_eng?posInSet=1&queryId=5714e81f-8bf9-4437-a6de-5576ed89e5ad

Mlama, P.; Dioum, M.; Makoye, H.; Murage, L.; Wagah, M.; Washika, R. 2005. Gender Responsive Pedagogy: A Teacher’s Handbook. Nairobi: Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE). Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/files/FAWE_GRP_ENGLISH_VERSION.pdf

Review existent textbooks and develop new gender-responsive textbooks

Ministries of Education should ensure that existent textbooks are reviewed periodically to tackle down gender-bias and stereotypes represented throughout the content and illustrations (Brugeilles and Cromer, 2009; UNESCO, 2015; UNESCO, 2016g; UNESCO, 2017; UNESCO, 2018). The three dimensions of gender-bias which should be removed from textbooks are: ‘(a) underrepresentation, (b) stereotyped depictions of gender roles, occupations, and attributes, and (c) [insufficient] presentation of positive gender content and role models’ (Blumberg, 2015: 20). Regarding new textbooks, it is recommended to develop them as gender-responsive from the onset (Blumberg, 2015).

The following short-, medium- and long-term policies and strategies should be taken into account when reviewing and developing gender-responsive textbooks.

First of all, political will and stakeholders’ support is of utmost importance to review existent textbooks and/or develop new gender-responsive ones (Blumberg, 2015; UNESCO, 2016g). For instance, in multiple countries, the aim to eliminate gender-bias from textbooks at a national level has been explicitly reflected through national education strategies.This has been done in countries such as Viet Nam, Ghana, Bangladesh, Guinea, Nepal and Pakistan (UNESCO and UNGEI, 2015). For instance, Viet Nam’s National Strategy on Gender Equality 2011-2020 calls for textbook’s review (UNESCO, 2016g; UNESCO, 2018). Stakeholders’ support is also essential throughout the review and development process (Brugeilles and Cromer, 2009). In fact, a lack of support from relevant stakeholders and the wider society overall will not only limit policy reforms, but will also ultimately inhibit the removal of gender-bias in teaching and learning materials (UNESCO and UNGEI, 2015).  

This is why it is essential to involve multiple stakeholders in the process, especially those who oppose to the development of gender-responsive textbooks (Blumberg, 2015). Name some leaders –also known as ‘champions’– to present the reforms to top government officials and other stakeholders (Blumberg, 2015).

Involve institutions responsible for textbook production, which can be either private or public. While this varies from country to country their participation is of utmost importance (e.g. even though Pakistan’s 2001-2015 EFA Action Plan aimed to eradicate gender-bias in textbooks, the resistance from the institutions responsible for textbook production contributed to the low political priority given to such review (UNESCO and UNGEI, 2015).).

Involve parents and the civil society in the process and get their support to monitor textbook’s content (e.g. in 2016 in South Africa after a parent raised the issue of a textbook’s content through social media a petition was formed ultimately leading the publisher to amend the content (Davies, 2016 cited by UNESCO, 2018).)

Teachers have a major role to play regarding textbook’s review. When textbook’s review process has not been done yet, teachers should be encouraged to adapt the content themselves inside the classroom to make it gender-responsive (Mlama et al., 2005; INEE, 2010). For instance, they can provide complementary examples, illustrations and interpretations. Teachers should also be encouraged and supported to develop their own gender-responsive teaching and learning materials. An essential step for this is ensuring that teachers are well-trained and are able to adapt the content inside the classroom to make it gender-responsive.

In the context of an education system that receives support of any kind from external or internal donor, it is essential to involve said donors in the process. 

Second, provide sufficient funds for the review of existent books and the development of new gender-responsive textbooks. This policy reform usually requires international donor’s involvement and support (e.g. ‘in Chile and Pakistan, UNESCO played an important role in funding early and influential research on gender bias in textbooks’ (Blumberg, 2015: 21).)

Third, ensure an adequate legislative and policy framework. Some recommendations to produce gender-responsive textbooks are:

  • Pay attention on how female, male and LGBTQI communities are or will be represented throughout the textbooks (Brugeilles and Cromer, 2009; UNESCO, 2016g).
  • Develop textbook’s characters from a gender-perspective (for more information consult Brugeilles and Cromer, 2009; UNESCO, 2017.),
  • Pay attention to both the content and the illustrations as well as the links between both (Brugeilles and Cromer, 2009).

The Ministry of Education should issue and enforce guidelines, such as gender-explicit Terms of Reference (ToR), to ensure that the textbooks being developed are gender-responsive from the onset (Blumemberg, 2015). Ministries of Education must make sure that the institution in charge of developing the textbook –it can be a team of authors within the MoE or an external publisher– agree to those TORs before starting the production. Afterwards, a team of evaluators, including a gender specialist, should analyse whether or not the textbooks produced comply with those gender-explicit TORs and in case they don’t they would be sent back for revision (e.g. this has been done in Chile where external academic evaluators carry out an assessment of the textbooks’ compliance with the Terms of Reference (Blumberg, 2015).). For existing textbooks, gender-audits can be performed (e.g. UNESCO funded this initiative in Jordan and Pakistan (UNESCO and UNGEI, 2015).

(For a guideline to analyse textbook’s gender-responsiveness consult ‘Sheet#5 Textbook Analysis’ at UNESCO Bangkok, 2009).

Fourth, provide training opportunities to tackle down opposition to the reform. For instance, provide gender-responsive training for professionals responsible of developing the guidelines for textbook production and approving textbooks for use (UNESCO and UNGEI, 2015). Ministries of Education should provide gender-responsive training opportunities for their staff members, so that they can collaborate on the textbook’s reform initiative as well as other gender-related initiatives. In this case, the ‘training of trainers’ model can be implemented to reduce costs (Blumberg, 2015). It is essential to include male trainers in the process (Blumberg, 2015).  

Teacher’s training in the use of new gender-responsive textbooks is of utmost importance as well (Blumberg, 2015). Additionally, as expressed before, teachers can be taught practical skills to correct gender-bias found on non-reviewed textbooks within the classroom (e.g. through gender-responsive training teachers can be taught to be aware of gender stereotypes in textbooks and how to use them positively, for example by ‘prompting open questions about the content and encouraging critical thinking in terms of gender issues’ (INEE, 2010: 53).)

It is also essential to teach students to ‘recognize gender bias in textbooks so that they can transcend their current educational materials’ (Blumberg, 2015: 22).

References
Blumberg, R.L. 2015. Eliminating gender bias in textbooks:  Pushing for policy reforms that promote gender equity in education. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2015: Education for All 2000-2015: achievements and challenges. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000232452?posInSet=3&queryId=5714e81f-8bf9-4437-a6de-5576ed89e5ad

Brugeilles, C.; Cromer, S. 2009. Promoting Gender Equality through Textbooks: A Methodological Guide. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from : https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf000015889 7_eng?posInSet=1&queryId=5714e81f-8bf9-4437-a6de-5576ed89e5ad

INEE (Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies). 2010. Gender Equality in and through Education: INEE Pocket Guide to Gender. Geneva: INEE. Retrieved from: https://toolkit.ineesite.org/resources/ineecms/uploads/1009/INEE_Pocket_Guide_to_Gender_EN.pdf

Mlama, P.; Dioum, M.; Makoye, H.; Murage, L.; Wagah, M.; Washika, R. 2005. Gender Responsive Pedagogy: A Teacher’s Handbook. Nairobi: Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE). Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/files/FAWE_GRP_ENGLISH_VERSION.pdf

UNESCO Bangkok. 2009. Gender in Education Network in Asia-Pacific (GENIA) Toolkit: Promoting Gender Equality in Education. Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000186495

UNESCO, UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). 2015. Gender and EFA 2000-2015, Achievements and Challenges: Gender Summary. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/234809E.pdf

UNESCO. 2015. A Guide for Gender Equality in Teacher Education Policy and Practices. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000231646/

UNESCO. 2016g. Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development. Global Education Monitoring Report: Policy paper 28. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002467/246777E.pdf

UNESCO. 2017. Making textbook content inclusive: A focus on religion, gender, and culture. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000247 337?posInSet=9&queryId=5714e81f-8bf9-4437-a6de-5576ed89e5ad

UNESCO. 2018. Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review: Meeting our commitments to gender equality in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000261593?posInSet=7&queryId=d9c1c9db-c2d7-4f64-a94f-f13dc872d3a4

Policies for children with disabilities

Promising policy options

Ensure textbooks appreciate diversity and eliminate discriminatory and negative portraits of peoples with disabilities

In an inclusive education system, Ministries of Education should ensure that the textbooks provided promote diversity. This implies representing peoples with disabilities in a positive, accurate and authentic way (UNESCO, 2016g) (see Annex 1). Existent textbooks should be reviewed to remove any harmful stereotype and to increase the representation of peoples with disabilities within them (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2019; DFID, 2010). As expressed by Hodkinson, Ghajarieh and Salami: ‘all learners must be able to “find themselves and their world represented in the books from which they learn”. Incorporating the issues of people with disabilities into the textbooks of mainstream schools…could be a step towards reducing the alienation of pupils with disabilities in regular schools’ (2016: 8).

Annex 1

Empowering image of disability in a primary school civics textbook (Mexico)

Source: Herrera et al., 2014, retrieved from UNESCO. 2016g. Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development. Global Education Monitoring Report Policy Paper 28. Paris: UNESCO

References
DFID (Department for International Development). 2010. Education for children with disabilities: improving access and quality. London: DFID. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/ system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67664/edu-chi-disabil-guid-note.pdf

Hodkinson, A.; Ghajarieh, A.; Salami, A. 2016. ‘An Analysis of the Cultural Representation of Disability in School Textbooks in Iran and England’. In: Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education. Retrieved from:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301271604_An_analysis_of_the_cultural_representation_of_disability_in_school_textbooks_in_Iran_and_England

Ontario Human Rights Comission. 2019.  Accessible education for students with disabilities. Toronto: Ontario Human Rights Comission. Retrieved from: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/sites/default/files/Policy%20on%20accessible%20education%20for%20students%20with%20disabilities_FINAL_EN.pdf

UNESCO. 2016g. Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development. Global Education Monitoring Report: Policy paper 28. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002467/246777E.pdf

Ensure a timely provision of accessible textbooks

To meet the diversity of needs and learning patterns of all students, Ministries of Education should ensure from the outset the provision of accessible and flexible textbooks (CAST and LD OnLine, 2007; Stahl, 2004; UNESCO, 2019; WHO, 2011). Alternate-format teaching materials can be provided to students with disabilities in the following categories: braille, audio, large-print and e-text or digital text (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2019; Stahl, 2004; UNESCO, 2019; UNICEF, 2014).

Ministries of Education must ensure that all the approved books are available in those alternate forms. To do so, a number of strategies are recommended.

Enact an accessible textbook legislation. In many countries, legislations are enacted to specify the way in which accessible textbooks are created. This allows schools to establish procurement processes and ensure quality and timely distribution to all schools, so that students with disabilities receive their textbooks at the same time as their peers (Kenya, 2009; CAST and LD OnLine, 2007; Stahl, 2004). Additionally, it is recommended to enact a Copyright Law to allow mass production and availability of alternate format textbooks. For example, Section 121 of United States’ Copyright Act, allows certain entities to create alternate formats without seeking permission from the copyright holder (Stahl, 2004). In Kenya, the Ministry of Education seeks copyrights from publishers to produce the teaching and learning materials for students with special needs and disabilities (Kenya, 2009).

Allocate adequate funds for accessible teaching and learning materials. Ministries of Education and partners should ensure adequate resources to provide every book in an accessible format. For instance, Kenya’s National Special Needs Education Policy Framework, calls for an adequate allocation of funds for teaching and learning materials for children with disabilities (Kenya, 2009); in Mexico and Chile, the way in which their MoE finance inclusive education is by providing sufficient resources to the particular needs of institutions, such as financing the teaching materials (WHO, 2011). Additionally, the government should study the possibility of providing textbooks in alternative formats for free to children with disabilities (UNESCO, 2009d).)

Enhance the collaboration between pertinent stakeholders and a clear distribution system to provide accessible textbooks within schools. For example, in Ontario the school boards ensure that teaching and learning materials are available in e-text format (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2019).

Make sure to include parents, students, teachers in the process of deciding which alternate formats should be used and when (PACER Center, 2011) (for more details on alternate-formats depending on specific disabilities consult Stahl, 2004 and Stahl, 2010.). This responsibility could also be delegated to the Individualised Education Programme (IEP) team (e.g. this is the case in the United States (CAST and LD OnLine, 2007).). 

Moreover, technological advances should be considered as they allow alternate-format materials, thus, ‘providing those with disabilities new access to a world of information and ideas that traditionally has been restricted to printed text’ (Stahl, 2004: 24). There are multiple alternate-format materials which facilitate the learning process of students with disabilities, for example, texts read out-loud by synthetic or human voice, synchronization with word by word or sentence-by-sentence highlighting (for more precise details and specific recommendations of favourable methods for each type of disability consult Stahl, 2010).

References
CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) and LD OnLine. 2007. Accessible Textbooks: A Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities. Accessed 5 June 2019: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/accessible-textbooks-guide-parents-children-learning-disabilities

Hodkinson, A.; Ghajarieh, A.; Salami, A. 2016. ‘An Analysis of the Cultural Representation of Disability in School Textbooks in Iran and England’. In: Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education. Retrieved from:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301271604_An_analysis_of_the_cultural_representation_of_disability_in_school_textbooks_in_Iran_and_England

Kenya. 2009. Ministry of Education. The National Special Needs Education Policy Framework. Nairobi: Ministry of Education. Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/education/edurights/media/docs/446808882707702aafc616d3a2cec918bfc186fc.pdf

Ontario Human Rights Commission. 2019.  Accessible education for students with disabilities. Toronto: Ontario Human Rights Comission. Retrieved from: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/sites/default/files/Policy%20on%20accessible%20education%20for%20students%20with%20disabilities_FINAL_EN.pdf

PACER Center. 2011. Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM): Basics for Families. Minneapolis: PACER Center. Retrieved from: https://www.pacer.org/stc/pubs/STC-23.pdf

Stahl, S. 2004. The promise of accessible textbooks: Increased achievement for all students. Wakefield, MA: NCAC (National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum). Retrieved from: http://aem.cast.org/about/publications/2004/ncac-accessible-textbooks.html

Stahl, S. 2010. Accessible Textbooks in the K-12 Classroom II (2010 Revision): Selecting Specialized Formats. Wakefield, MA: NIMAS Development and Technical Assistance Centers. Retrieved from: http://aem.cast.org/about/publications/2004/ncac-accessible-textbooks.html

UNESCO. 2009d. Towards inclusive education for children with disabilities: A guideline. Bangkok: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001924/192480e.pdf

UNESCO. 2019. The right to education for persons with disabilities. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000371249

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014. Access to School and the Learning Environment I – Physical, Information and Communication: Webinar 10 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/sites/unicef.org.eca/files/IE_ Webinar_Booklet_10.pdf

WHO (World Health Organization). 2011. ‘Chapter 7 Education’. In: World Report on Disability (pp. 227-256). Malta: WHO. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report.pdf.
 

Policies for displaced populations

Promising policy options

Textbook supply

To ensure quality educational opportunities for displaced populations, educational stakeholders should plan adequate textbook supply for all displaced populations, including those in camp settings (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). Textbook supply should start with an in-depth analysis of textbooks available, as well as other teaching and learning materials that can be used to support the displaced population’s learning process. This analysis should be done through a collaborative process, involving displaced students, school staff, local and national educational authorities, humanitarian and development partners, among others. In particular, teachers working with refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced children must be involved to help decision-makers understand which textbooks are essential (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010).

This analysis should help educational stakeholders identify (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010):

  • The number of textbooks available for displaced populations.
  • The number of textbooks needed.
  • The most beneficial textbooks.
  • The textbooks that can be created at the school level and those that must be procured locally or internationally.
  • The textbooks to be substituted or re-provisioned.

This analysis must be complemented by ‘the budget implications of producing or purchasing the required’ textbooks (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010: 189). National funds must be mobilised for this purpose (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). When they are not sufficient, international assistance can be sought. Development and humanitarian partners can be targeted independently or within Education Clusters, and it is key to specify if the assistance will be a ‘one-time distribution’ or ‘over a specified period of time’ (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010: 189).  During budget analysis, it is key to keep in mind that the standard student to textbook ratio is 3 to 1, although the ultimate goal should be to ensure one textbook per student (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). If possible, subject-specific textbooks should be provided to every student. When this is not possible, textbooks can be available in ‘class sets of 40 or 50 that can be used by several different classes in the same grade’ (Sinclair, 2002 as cited in IIEP-UNESCO, 2010: 186).

The supply strategy must also address any factors affecting an equitable distribution of textbooks. In this regard, socio-economic considerations, geographic location, and linguistic aspects must be considered. To ensure transparency, the community can be involved in ‘designing and implementing a distribution system’ (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010: 192). It is also possible to develop communication campaigns directed at families and students, to ensure they are all aware of which and how many textbooks will be distributed (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). Monitoring systems should also be put in place or strengthened to ensure a timely supply, as well as to avoid misuse of funds and any other form of corruption (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). Textbooks should be stamped and numbered, and monitoring systems should track their allocation, use, return, and replacement (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). Moreover, there should be policies in place for textbook damage (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010).

References
IIEP-UNESCO. 2010. ‘Ch. 4.8: Textbooks, educational materials and teaching aids’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction (pp.179-199). Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved http://www.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/Guidebook%20Chapters/GB_2009_4.8_final.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO; GPE (Global Partnership for Education). 2016.Guidelines for transitional education plan preparation. Washington: GPE. Retrieved from: https://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/ressources/244900e.pdf

Choose between local and/or international textbook procurement

Textbooks can be procured by local or international providers (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). Local procurement means that textbooks are done within the country itself or in the ‘immediate region concerned’ (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010: 184). This type of procurement is recommended when the circumstances allow it, especially when efficient NGOs or the Ministry of Education are leading the process (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). This is also particularly relevant when displaced populations are following national curricula. The benefits of local procurement include (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010):

  • Lower costs (particularly due to lower transport costs);
  • easier logistics;
  • positive impact on the local economy.

For local procurement, various aspects must be ensured (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010; IIEP-UNESCO and GPE, 2016):

  • raw materials to produce the required textbooks must be available;
  • printing equipment must work properly;
  • the required time to produce all textbooks must be evaluated;
  • there should be the capacity to distribute all textbooks;
  • competitive bidding processes must be in place to select suppliers;
  • the quality of textbooks must be ensured so that they last for a long time (cover them with plastic film and use resistant materials for their production). 

In certain circumstances, however, international procurement may be necessary, especially if displaced populations are following their home country’s curricula or if logistic internal problems (or issues with any of the aspects mentioned above) impede an adequate supply of the required textbooks (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). When choosing international procurement, the cost (including transportation cost) should be evaluated, as well as the cultural and local relevance of those learning materials (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010).  

References
IIEP-UNESCO. 2010. ‘Ch. 4.8: Textbooks, educational materials and teaching aids’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction (pp.179-199). Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved http://www.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/Guidebook%20Chapters/GB_2009_4.8_final.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO; GPE (Global Partnership for Education). 2016.Guidelines for transitional education plan preparation. Washington: GPE. Retrieved from: https://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/ressources/244900e.pdf

Textbook revision and adaptation

Educational stakeholders should meet with displaced populations to determine the aspects of existing textbooks that should be revised and adapted to address their needs. It is key to ensure that textbook writers and editors are trained in peace, conflict resolution, human rights, among others (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). Moreover, textbooks should be reviewed to ensure they do not include any type of prejudice or bias against displaced populations and that they provide adequate, inclusive information about displacement (UNESCO, 2018; IIEP-UNESCO and GPE, 2016; Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020). It is also key to ensure that textbooks are available in relevant languages, and when this is not the case, their translation should be ensured (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010; IIEP-UNESCO and GPE, 2016).

Textbook revision and translation can be done with the support of several educational stakeholders, civil society organisations, NGOs, international partners, and the community, for instance through textbook revision workshops (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010).

To explore further

To learn more about how migration and displacement have been portrayed in textbooks in various countries around the globe facing significant displacement movements and migration, consult:

References
IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2018. Migration Concepts and Themes in Education Documents. Paper commissioned for the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report, Migration, displacement and education: Building bridges, not walls. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000266049?posInSet=13&queryId=68909a1d-54bc-4497-ba3f-4e2cabe0273f
References
Fuchs, E.; Otto, M.; Yu, S. 2020. Textbooks and Inclusive Education. Background paper prepared for the 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report: Inclusion and education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000373693

IIEP-UNESCO. 2010. ‘Ch. 4.8: Textbooks, educational materials and teaching aids’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction (pp.179-199). Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved http://www.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/Guidebook%20Chapters/GB_2009_4.8_final.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO; GPE (Global Partnership for Education). 2016.Guidelines for transitional education plan preparation. Washington: GPE. Retrieved from: https://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/ressources/244900e.pdf

UNESCO. 2018. Global Education Monitoring Report 2019: Migration, Displacement and Education – Building Bridges, not Walls. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265866

Other policy options

Alternatives to traditional textbooks

Open educational resources, including textbooks, can be used as they can help reduce costs while promoting teachers’ flexibility to customise the teaching and learning materials (UNESCO and COL, 2019). Open textbooks are found to be affordable as well as flexible compared to traditionally-published textbooks (UNESCO and COL, 2019).

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can also be mobilised to create technology-assisted solutions to replace traditional textbooks. For instance, Woldreader Mobile is a digital platform that aims to ‘bring digital books to every child and family’ (MENA, 2016: 24). Woldreader provides access to a wide multitude of textbooks to support students’ learning process. Another example is the programme put in place by The Ministry of Education and Higher Education of Lebanon to provide online access to national curricula and approved textbooks in Arabic, English, and French through the Center of Educational Research and Development (CERD) website (MENA, 2016). When implementing this type of strategy, associated challenges must be acknowledged, such as a lack of access to the internet or mobile and computer devices.

To explore further

To learn more about open textbooks, consult:

References
Open Education Network. n.d. Open Textbook Library. Accessed 3 March 2022: https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks

To learn more about Worldreader consult:

References
Worldreader. 2022. Worldreader. Accessed 3 March 2022: https://www.worldreader.org/
References
Education Global Practice (MENA). 2016. ICT and the Education of Refugees: A Stocktaking of Innovative Approaches in the MENA Region. Lessons of Experience and Guiding Principles. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/25172/Lessons0of0exp0d0guiding0principles.pdf

UNESCO; COL (Commonwealth of Learning). 2019. Guidelines on the development of open educational resources policies. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000371129/PDF/371129eng.pdf.multi

Policies for minority populations

Promising policy options

Textbook supply

Textbooks play a crucial role in quality education, and providing quality textbooks for minority students is necessary for them to have equal opportunities to learn (Hahl et al., 2015; Council of Europe, 2020). Overall, decision-makers and planners must ensure sufficient funds are provided for the translation and provision of textbooks in minority languages (Council of Europe, 2020).

References
Council of Europe. 2020. Good Practices of Multilingual and Minority Language Medium Education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Retrieved from: https://rm.coe.int/good-practices-of-multilingual-and-minority-language-education-eng/1680a052c3

Hahl, K.; Niemi, P.M.; Johnson Longofr, R.; Dervin, F. 2015. Diversities and Interculturality in Textbooks: Finland as an Example. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Retrieved from: https://www.cambridgescholars.com/resources/pdfs/978-1-4438-7262-1-sample.pdf

Community’s participation

Textbooks for minority populations must be provided in their mother tongue, which can present a challenge for schools and education systems (Council of Europe, 2020). This is why it is key to involve the community in the creation and validation of textbooks, for example through minority institutions (Council of Europe, 2020). This approach has helped many countries to improve the quality of education provided to minorities (Council of Europe, 2020).

Minority communities must be encouraged and supported to participate in essential tasks, such as reviewing the quality of textbook translations. In other cases, they can go beyond checking the materials to actually creating them, as is the case of Polish-speakers in Lithuania, whose representatives have published 32 books for teaching Polish as a native language (Council of Europe, 2020). In other countries, such as Hungary and Serbia, minority representatives take part in the decision making process for the provision of education, teaching methods, textbooks and other learning materials, as well as their translation (Council of Europe, 2020).

References
Council of Europe. 2020. Good Practices of Multilingual and Minority Language Medium Education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Retrieved from: https://rm.coe.int/good-practices-of-multilingual-and-minority-language-education-eng/1680a052c3

Textbooks in minority languages

Several countries have found different solutions to assure the quality of learning of their minority populations through the protection of textbooks in the country’s minority languages (Council of Europe, 2020). Some countries have passed laws to regulate the textbook market, and assure equal access to textbooks. In Serbia, for example, the Law on Textbooks monitors the quality of the translations and states that the price of textbooks must be equal if they are in Serbian or in a minority language (Council of Europe, 2020).

Other countries, such as Hungary, ensure that textbooks and other teaching materials are translated to minority languages for all levels of education (Council of Europe, 2020). Hungary has received support from the European Union Social Fund (ESF) to create and publish some of their translated textbooks, and they have also opened tenders since 2012 for projects that create a wide variety of learning materials in minority languages, such as visual aids, teacher training resources, and much more (Council of Europe, 2020).

Finally, Latvia and Lithuania have developed different ways to support learning materials for their Polish-speaking population, which represent a minority in these countries. Schools in Latvia use the same textbooks that are approved and used in Polish schools, together with the textbooks that are used and approved in Latvia (Council of Europe, 2020). In the case of Lithuania, representatives of the Polish-speaking community, together with teachers, researchers, and schools, have created and published their own textbooks for grades 1-12 (Council of Europe, 2020).

References
Council of Europe. 2020. Good Practices of Multilingual and Minority Language Medium Education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Retrieved from: https://rm.coe.int/good-practices-of-multilingual-and-minority-language-education-eng/1680a052c3

Textbook revision and adaptation

Textbooks have a great influence on how children perceive the world since they are a key source of knowledge for young individuals (Deckman et al., 2018). This is why special care must be given to the revision and adaptation of school textbooks, to ensure that their contents are worthy of study and that their representation of cultures and diversity does not carry negative social implications (Deckman et al., 2018).

Schools are often the first diverse and multicultural setting a child enters, and it is of vital importance to foster trust, understanding, empathy, and fairness (UNESCO, 2017). A school environment, accompanied by learning materials that promote these attitudes, ‘is conducive to the integration and participation of all citizens, ensuring the vitality of civil society’ (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020: 4). The textbooks used in school can either help or cripple a child’s ability to live in harmony in their diverse surroundings, and in the case of minority learners, the language and topics used in those textbooks are decisive to student’s feeling of belonging, inclusion and acceptance (UNESCO, 2017).

UNESCO’s Model Plan from 1949 presents six principles for the creation or revision of school textbooks: ‘accuracy, fairness, worth, comprehensiveness and balance, world-mindedness, and international cooperation’ (Crammer, 1985: 30, as cited in Hahl et al., 2015: xi-xii). The goal of these principles is to ensure that textbooks promote union, which requires learning materials to include a wide variety of perspectives, embracing those of minorities as well (Hahl et al., 2015).

School textbooks should be revised or adapted to include an appropriate representation of the minority populations present in the country –one which is free of damaging stereotypes and prejudices, while it shows the wide diversity of cultures, religions, ethnicities, skin colours, and other characteristics that make up the country’s people (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020; Deckman et al., 2018). Even though the inclusion of minorities has increased in school textbooks since the 70s, an international study carried out from 2000-2011 showed that only one in four Social Studies textbooks in secondary school mentioned any cultural, ethnic, linguistic or religious minority (UNESCO, 2016). Having an accurate representation of minorities is key, especially in classes such as history, social studies, geography and ethics, where ‘the essential dimension of human rights and citizenship’ must be portrayed (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020: 3).

Finally, when revising and adapting existing textbooks, States should address past errors, for example by ‘removing stereotypes, inappropriate terminologies and other negative elements referring to indigenous peoples’ and other minority populations (United Nations Human Rights Council, 2009: 26).

References
Deckman, S.L.; Fitts Fulmer, E.; Kirby, K.; Hoover, K. Mackall, A.S. 2018. ‘Numbers are Just Not Enough: A Critical Analysis of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Elementary and Middle School Health Textbooks’. In: Educational Studies, vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 285-302. Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00131946.2017.1411261?journalCode=heds20

Fuchs, E.; Otto, M.; Yu, S. 2020. Textbooks and Inclusive Education. Background paper prepared for the 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report: Inclusion and education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000373693

Hahl, K.; Niemi, P.M.; Johnson Longofr, R.; Dervin, F. 2015. Diversities and Interculturality in Textbooks: Finland as an Example. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Retrieved from: https://www.cambridgescholars.com/resources/pdfs/978-1-4438-7262-1-sample.pdf

UNESCO. 2016. Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development. Global Education Monitoring Report: Policy paper 28. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002467/246777E.pdf

UNESCO. 2017. Making textbook content inclusive: A focus on religion, gender, and culture. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://www.unesco.de/sites/default/files/2018-09/Making%20textbook%20content%20inclusive.pdf

United Nations Human Rights Council. 2009. Study on lessons learned and challenges to achieve the implementation of the right of indigenous peoples to education. Report of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A/HRC/EMRIP/2009/2. Retrieved from:   https://www.right-to-education.org/sites/right-to-education.org/files/resource-attachments/Expert_Mechanism_on_the_Rights_of_Indigenous_Peoples_2009_en.pdf

Textbook language and content

For textbooks to have a positive impact on society and the upbringing of future generations, the language and contents must be, above all, inclusive, accurate and non-stereotypical (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020; UNESCO, 2016; Council of Europe, 2020).

Fuchs, Otto and Yu (2020), propose three questions that should be asked before approving a textbook for use in schools:

  • Does the textbook represent different minorities?
  • Which kinds of minorities do the textbooks represent? For example, religious, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and other minorities.
  • And finally, are these representations stereotypical?

It is important to note that some representations of minority populations can actually hinder unity and mutual understanding. This is the case when textbooks’ representation of minorities show generalisations or present different groups as homogenous (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020). It is important for individuals belonging to a minority to be accepted as individuals, rather than reinforcing preconceived associations regarding their culture, language, skin colour, religion or ethnicity. To this end, prejudices and stereotypes should be identified and addressed, and States should ‘develop and strictly implement provisions aimed at eliminating discrimination against indigenous [and other minority] peoples in the educational system’ (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020: 3).

Yet, eliminating damaging stereotypes and including the representation of minorities is not enough to ensure an appropriate language and content in textbooks. Textbooks must provide knowledge on human rights and factual portrayals of past events; they must use tolerant language, and be sensitive to religious beliefs and cultural traditions; they must demonstrate social and moral responsibility; and they must show global awareness and a balanced portrayal of issues and events (UNESCO, 2016).

Further recommendations regarding the language and content of school textbooks are:

  • Help students become aware of their own preconceived ideas about minority populations, and guide them in challenging those ideas (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020). For example, a reviewed textbook from New Zealand advises students to face ‘racist labelling in everyday society’ (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020: 47).
  • Textbooks should discuss more than one side when presenting historical or current events, and inspire students to discuss such events critically (Gaul, 2014, as cited in UNESCO, 2016). For example, Sri Lanka has launched new revisions to their textbooks, now including ‘conflict resolution’ and ‘reconciliation mechanisms’  (Vanner et al., 2016, as cited in UNESCO, 2016: 12).
  • Each country’s textbooks need to have accurate and inclusive representations of minorities present within their territory (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020). For example, a reviewed textbook from Australia pays special attention to ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’, who are referenced often to expound on ‘the constitution, legislative procedure and jurisdiction’ (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020: 8).
  • Written language and visual content in textbooks should be inclusive (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020). For example, a reviewed textbook from the United States shows white, Hispanic and African Americans, as well as a mixture of ages, races, genders, socio-economic status, skin colour, clothing, roles, hobbies, occupations etc. and the names of fictional characters are representative of their ethnicity (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020).
  • Textbooks should respect diversity. For example, a reviewed textbook from Indonesia displays its cultural diversity as ‘riches to be maintained and promoted (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020: 10). The textbook is noteworthy for its ‘respectful handling of religious, ethnic, sub-ethnic and linguistic diversity, [the textbook] promotes values such as openness, tolerance, inclusion, and respect for human rights.’ (Fuchs, Otto and Yu, 2020: 10).
  • Textbooks should be tolerant of different religions. Respecting diversity also means respecting different spiritual and philosophical beliefs, and school textbooks should encourage understanding of each person’s right to their religious beliefs (UNESCO, 2017). For example, textbooks from the MENA region (Egypt, Bahrain, Israel, Palestine), mention religious issues regarding specific conflicts and associated human rights (Fuch Otto and Yu, 2020).

For more information, please refer to Annex 2: Aspects to consider when writing or reviewing textbooks to make them inclusive; and Annex 3: Aspects to consider when writing or reviewing textbooks to promote diversity.

Annex 2

Aspects to consider when writing or reviewing textbooks to make them inclusive

Source: UNESCO. 2017. Making textbook content inclusive: A focus on religion, gender, and culture. p. 13. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://www.unesco.de/sites/default/files/2018-09/Making%20textbook%20content%20inclusive.pdf

Annex 3

Aspects to consider when writing or reviewing textbooks to promote diversity

Source: UNESCO. 2017. Making textbook content inclusive: A focus on religion, gender, and culture. p. 15-18. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://www.unesco.de/sites/default/files/2018-09/Making%20textbook%20content%20inclusive.pdf

References
Council of Europe. 2020. Good Practices of Multilingual and Minority Language Medium Education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Retrieved from: https://rm.coe.int/good-practices-of-multilingual-and-minority-language-education-eng/1680a052c3

Fuchs, E.; Otto, M.; Yu, S. 2020. Textbooks and Inclusive Education. Background paper prepared for the 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report: Inclusion and education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000373693

UNESCO. 2016. Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development. Global Education Monitoring Report: Policy paper 28. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002467/246777E.pdf

UNESCO. 2017. Making textbook content inclusive: A focus on religion, gender, and culture. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://www.unesco.de/sites/default/files/2018-09/Making%20textbook%20content%20inclusive.pdf
Updated on 2022-07-01

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