Why teach about riots in schools: NCERT defends changes in books : The Tribune India

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Why teach about riots in schools: NCERT defends changes in books

Revision routine, no bid to saffronise curriculum, says council chief

Why teach about riots in schools: NCERT defends changes in books

NCERT director Dinesh Prasad Saklani. PTI



Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16

Rejecting accusation of attempts being made to saffronise the school curriculum, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) director Dinesh Prasad Saklani said, “Why should we teach about riots in school textbooks?”

He said references to Gujarat riots and Babri Masjid demolition were modified in school textbooks because teaching about riots “can create violent and depressed citizens”.

“Should we teach our students in a manner that they become offensive, create hatred in society or become victim of hatred? Is that education’s purpose? Should we teach about riots to such young children... when they grow up, they can learn about it, but why in schools. Let them understand what happened and why it happened when they grow up. The hue and cry about the changes is irrelevant,” Saklani said.

In April, the NCERT announced changes in school textbooks. References to Babri Masjid demolition were dropped from Class 12 political science textbook and that of Gujarat riots from Class IX social science book.

Saklani said tweaks in textbooks were part of the annual revision and should not be the subject of a hue and cry. “The purpose of our education is not to create violent citizens... depressed citizens. Hatred and violence are not subjects of teaching, these should not be the focus of our textbooks,” the NCERT director said.

The revised Class 12 political science textbook does not mention Babri Masjid, but refers to it as a “three-domed structure”. The NCERT has also brought down the Ayodhya section from four to two pages and deleted details from the earlier version.

“A three-dome structure was built at the site of Shri Ram’s birth place in 1528, but the structure had visible display of Hindu symbols and relics in its interior as well as its exterior portions. Therefore, Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi issue got linked to the national pride in its ancient civilisation,” the revised textbook read.

Portions related to the BJP “rath yatra” from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya, the role of karsevaks, communal violence in the wake of the demolition of Babri Masjid and BJP’s “regret over the happenings in Ayodhya” have been removed.

The book has an added section about the Supreme Court’s decision on the Ayodhya dispute. It states, “Through a number of democratic and legal procedures, including court hearings, mediation attempts, popular movements and finally with a 5-0 verdict of a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court on November 9, 2019, the Ayodhya issue was resolved. The verdict allotted the disputed site to the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust for the construction of Ram Temple and directed the government concerned to allot appropriate site for the construction of a mosque to the Sunni Central Waqf Board. This issue was resolved following the due process of law based on evidences such as archaeological excavations and historical records,” the book read.

Saklani said updating textbooks was a global practice and was in the interest of education. “Revising textbooks is an annual exercise. Whatever is changed is decided by subject and pedagogy experts. I do not dictate or interfere in the process... there is no imposition from the top,” he added.

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