BHOPAL: Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), on February 16 this year, after a meeting chaired by Union HRD minister Prakash Javdekar, issued a circular saying that all CBSE schools will have to compulsorily use text books published by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for all classes from the academic session 2017-18. Subsequently, the MP government also issued similar instructions. The main objective of the exercise, the CBSE said, was to standardise the curricula in CBSE schools and save parents from being forced to pay through the nose for exorbitantly-priced books of private publishers, prescribed by managements of private schools.

There are around 920 schools affiliated to CBSE in the state.  While welcoming the decision, many educationists fear that the Centre  may use NCERT books to thrust a particular ideology on the students. “This may be a strategy to convert all CBSE schools into Saraswati Vidya Mandirs,” said a representative of the Catholic Church, which manages scores of CBSE schools in many cities of the state. Of course, he refused to be named.  Educationist Ramesh Dave said while the move was welcome as it would cut the cost of textbooks, much would depend on whether and what changes were made in the contents of the books.  Well-known educationist and founder of ‘Kishore Bharati’ Anil Sadgopal has serious doubts over whether the state government would be able to implement the measure. “I have no hesitation in saying that the government is in collusion with the private schools.”

He recalled that in 2013, when the then collector of Dewas issued an order making NCERT books compulsory in CBSE schools, he was transferred to Shahdol. “And he issued the same order immediately after he joined his new post,” he said.

Later, Sadgopal said, the collector of Gwalior issued a similar order forcing the CM to ‘appeal’ to the collectors to hold prior consultations with the school education department before issuing any orders pertaining to school education.

“When we went to the CM with this demand under the aegis of ‘Shiksha Adhikar Manch’, he told us that the government had no control on private schools,” he claimed.

Sadgopal also expressed the apprehension that pro-Hindu Rashtra ruling dispensation at the Centre may saffronise NCERT textbooks. “They have already started saying that Rana Pratap had not lost the battle of Haldighati. Tomorrow they may start saying the Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple.”

It may be recalled that the Sangh Parivar has been mounting stringent criticism of the NCERT social science books, saying that they had been written by Leftist writers who had distorted history.

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