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India: Rajasthan school board is not going by the book

17 May 2016

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Hindustan Times - May 16, 2016

Editorial

Rajasthan school board is not going by the book

It is a novel way to ‘improve’ educational standards by any yardstick. The Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education has decided to rejig the school curriculum to obscure certain historic facts, cleverly add a few new ones and put a twist on others. So, we find no reference to Jawaharlal Nehru being the first prime minister of India, no mention of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and the emperor Akbar being referred to without being called ‘Great’ — an honour that will now go to Maharana Pratap. The new curriculum, on the state education website, introduces new elements like the prime minister’s Maan ki Baat radio address, the Swachh Bharat scheme, the PM’s fitness habits and tales of gods and religious figures. A letter to a cow by a student also features.

It is no one’s contention that textbooks not be rewritten from time to time to make them more contemporary. But in this case the efforts of the State Institute of Education, Research and Training in Udaipur seem to be driven by particular political considerations. The education minister’s excuse that he has nothing to do with this autonomous body’s efforts seems a little incredulous considering how active the government has been in its re-education efforts. The aim of the state education sector should be to provide children the necessary knowledge that will help them compete with the best anywhere. It should focus on improving conditions in schools, especially for the girl child, the quality of teaching and teacher training.

No doubt religious leaders and past tales of Indian culture and valour have their time and place in the child’s understanding of society and history, but this cannot be done by masking immutable facts of our past. The fact that erstwhile rulers who resisted the Muslim kings are being highlighted reiterates that fact that this has more to do with ideology than improving educational standards. The tendency to politicise every aspect of life is something we have come to live with today. But the government has a duty to ensure that children are imparted the most accurate information in an interesting manner and not made to learn what can only be described as a distorted version of events and irrelevant or even doctored information.

P.S.

The above editorial from Hindustan Times is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use