Updated on: Monday, December 13, 2021, 05:20 PM IST

FPJ Explains: Why did CBSE Class 10 English exam paper trigger outrage?

CBSE headquarters | File Image

CBSE headquarters | File Image


The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Monday dropped a comprehension passage and the accompanying questions from the Class 10 English exam and decided to award full marks for it to students, following an outrage over the board allegedly promoting "gender stereotyping" and supporting "regressive notions".

What did the passage say?

In the Class 10 exam conducted on Saturday, the question paper carried a comprehension passage with sentences such as emancipation of women destroyed the parents' authority over the children" and "it was only by accepting her husband's way that a mother could gain obedience over the younger ones", among others.

"The mother did not exemplify the obedience upon which she still tried to insist...In bringing the man down from his pedestal the wife and the mother deprived herself, in fact of the means of discipline," read the passage.

"Women gaining independence is the main reason for a wide variety of social and family problems... and if wives stop obeying their husbands, that is the main reason children and servants are indisciplined," it further added.

Read the full comprehension passage here:

Meanwhile, excerpts from the passage have gone viral on social media platforms with users calling out the board for supporting "misogynistic" and "regressive opinions" and the hashtag "#CBSEinsultswomen" trending on Twitter.

CBSE Examination Controller Sanyam Bhardwaj told news agency PTI that the passage is not "in accordance with the guidelines of the board".

"A passage in one set of English language and literature paper of CBSE Class 10 first-term examination held on December 11 is not in accordance with the guidelines of the board with regard to the setting of question papers. In this backdrop and on the basis of the feedback received from the stakeholders, the matter was referred to a committee of subject experts. According to its recommendation, it has been decided to drop the passage and the accompanying questions," CBSE Examination Controller Sanyam Bhardwaj said.

"Full marks will be awarded for this passage to all the students concerned. To ensure uniformity and parity, full marks will also be awarded to students for passage number one for all sets of the question paper," he added.

Sonia Gandhi seeks apology from the govt:

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday condemned the "blatantly misogynist" and "nonsensical" passage, saying those reflected "extremely poorly" on the standards of education and testing.

Raising the issue during the Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Gandhi demanded an immediate withdrawal of the said passage, an apology from the government and a review into the "gravest lapse".

"The passage contains atrocious statements such as 'women gaining independence is the main reason for a wide variety of social and family problems' and if 'wives stops obeying their husbands, that is the main reason children and servants are indisciplined'," she said, reading out excerpts from the Class 10 CBSE question paper.

The Congress chief said the entire passage was riddled with such condemnable ideas and the questions that followed were equally "nonsensical".

Seeking a clarification from the government on the issue raised by Gandhi, members of the Congress, the DMK, the IUML, the NCP and the National Conference walked out of the House.

"I add my voice to the concerns of students, parents, teachers and educationists and I raise strong objections to such blatantly misogynist material finding its way into an important examination conducted by the CBSE," Gandhi said.

She urged the Ministry of Education and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to immediately withdraw the questions, issue an apology and conduct a thorough review into this "gravest lapse" to ensure that "this is never, never repeated again".

"I also urge that the Ministry of Education must conduct a review of the gender sensitivity standards of the curriculum and the textbooks," she added.

Watch Video:


Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi slam CBSE

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday hit out at the CBSE over the passage, terming it as "disgusting" and a "ploy" of the RSS-BJP to crush the morale and future of the youth.

"Most #CBSE papers so far were too difficult and the comprehension passage in the English paper was downright disgusting. Typical RSS-BJP ploys to crush the morale and future of the youth. Kids, do your best. Hard work pays. Bigotry doesn’t," he tweeted.


Priyanka Gandhi wrote: "Unbelievable! Are we really teaching children this drivel? Clearly the BJP Government endorses these retrograde views on women, why else would they feature in the CBSE curriculum? @cbseindia29 @narendramodi??"

(With PTI inputs)


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Published on: Monday, December 13, 2021, 05:20 PM IST