NCERT syllabus changes: Mumbai educationists denounce 'political' purge in textbooks

NCERT syllabus changes: Mumbai educationists denounce 'political' purge in textbooks

The changes are in addition to a number of other changes made by NCERT in the syllabi of Classes 6 to 12 as part of its 'syllabus rationalisation' exercise to reduce the burden on students due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

FPJ Education DeskUpdated: Wednesday, April 05, 2023, 09:59 PM IST
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Representational image | PTI

Mumbai: The changes in new textbooks published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) have drawn sharp reactions from educationists in the city, as they highlighted the 'political' underpinning of these changes.

The Class 12 History textbook, which recently hit the market, is missing the earlier content about the Hindu extremists’ dislike for Mahatma Gandhi and the ban on various organisations, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in the aftermath of his assassination. The reference to Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as “a Brahmin from Pune” and “the editor of an extremist Hindu newspaper who had denounced Gandhiji as ‘an appeaser of Muslims’” has also been removed.

The changes are in addition to a number of other changes made by NCERT in the syllabi of Classes 6 to 12 as part of its 'syllabus rationalisation' exercise to reduce the burden on students due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Changes made last year included the removal of all references to Mughal courts, the Emergency, the 2002 Gujarat riots, Cold War, and the Industrial Revolution. Some Dalit writers were also dropped from a Class 7 textbook.

Jyoti Lodaya, a History and Civics teacher at the secondary section of The Somaiya School, said that it's crucial for students to know about all events of Indian history to give them a clear picture. "In the first few days after the NCERT announced the change last year, a class 7 student remarked that it's no longer necessary to study Mughal history, saying why he should study Islamic culture at all. That history lecture turned into a session where students had to be reeducated about diversity," she said, adding, "The point of history is to learn from the mistakes our ancestors once made. This is completely taken away from students if parts of our story are kept away from the children,"

Dr. Sudhir Suryavanshi, a teacher at Khar Education Society's Junior College and Coordinator of Shikshan Vikas Manch, a city-based group of educationists, said, "We cannot refrain from teaching Mughal history to students, just like, in Science, we can't avoid lessons on foreign scientists and their discoveries. If we do so, we won't be able to keep up with the rest of the world. What the NCERT is doing is communalism, when our constitution emphasises secularism. From Guru Nanak to the Warkari movement, we have been bestowed with an inclusive tradition. Our textbooks should teach about different religions and their cultures."

Arvind Ganacharya, a city-based historian, said that history books shouldn't be changed with a shift in political powers. He, however, added that the history taught to children shouldn't be "lopsided". "Though Mughal history is important that cannot be all that is taught to students, they need to know about the history of other parts of India and their local history too. The subject should be taught in totality and should have a well-composed syllabus which does not falter due to political influence," he said.

Ganacharya added that the school students should be taught only factual instances of history to make the subject lighter. "With NCERT, students are expected to learn the entire colonial and postcolonial history of their country and the history of the world within the short span of 7 years. This makes the subject burdensome and many students are seen running away from it. In this case, the approach of only teaching factual instances of history during school days while leaving the nuances and analysis for the college years might lighten things up for the pupils," he said.

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