NCERT row: Deletions, tweaks in textbooks problematic - The Tribune India

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NCERT row

Deletions, tweaks in textbooks problematic

NCERT row


PERIODIC revision of learning material is par for the course. How the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is going about it is problematic, ill-advised and smacks of narrow-mindedness. It’s not without reason that revisions in the Class XII political science textbook have led to a hue and cry. Questions are bound to be raised over the strange logic of whitewashing contemporary events, skipping uncomfortable moments in India’s history and choosing to ignore incidents of violence and protest. Two political scientists have sought the removal of their names as authors, saying the textbooks are politically biased, academically indefensible and pedagogically dysfunctional. The NCERT has rejected accusations of saffronisation of school curricula, but the intent behind making the changes must remain open to scrutiny. It’s a bizarre argument, for instance, that teaching about riots can create violent and depressed citizens.

Amid the ongoing row, the NCERT director has said the words ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ could be used interchangeably in the textbooks. According to him, a discussion on the issue is useless. A panel had recommended replacing ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’ in all textbooks last year. The debate on the issue was triggered in 2023 when the G20 invites were sent in the name of ‘President of Bharat’. The last word on the issue is yet to be heard.

Not mentioning Babri Masjid but referring to it as a three-domed structure, pruning the section on Ayodhya, omission of the Gujarat riots — the tweaks in the textbooks violate the fundamental premise of education, which is to inculcate critical thinking. Denying essential reading material is a disservice to students. It’s not just during the past 10 years that textbook revisions have sparked controversy. The difference now is the lack of informed and forceful debates on matters of such significance. That, hopefully, might change.

#NCERT


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