The Nirbhaya rape case in 2012 created a lot of angst in the country. Many steps to prevent such incidents from recurring were discussed. However, only few of the recommended measures have been implemented. Realizing the need for imparting a perspective to think about gender-related issues to its students, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad (JNTU) has introduced a compulsory course on gender sensitization for engineering students. With this, JNTU becomes the first university in India to take such an initiative at the under-graduate level. JNTU has more than 380 affiliated colleges in the state of Telangana.

The unique thing about this course is how it will be imparted – via interactive sessions between students and professors, instead of boring, long lectures. Students will be encouraged to discuss topics like the differences they have seen in the ways people are treated through stereotyped gender roles.

As part of the curriculum, students will be shown films to help them understand gender-related issues better.

PaGaLGuY spoke to students of JNTU’s College of Engineering, Hyderabad about the course. However, they did not know about it. They thought of it as just another course. Informing students beforehand about such courses would help the college in teaching the course without losing its significance.

The best way to tackle social prejudices is by nipping them in the bud. By encouraging open student-teacher interactions on issues less talked about in society at large, JNTU has taken a step forward in the right direction. But it remains to be seen how the teenagers respond to such an initiative when they are already imbued with prejudices at home unconsciously.

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