he National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has its hands full. The council has the rather arduous task of revising the entire syllabus for school students as mandated in the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
While it is quite logical to renew textbooks in accordance with changing times, many in the academic circles believe the NCERT is making unpardonable blunders in its efforts to rationalize the syllabus. One of the major reasons behind this syllabus rationalizing process is to reduce the academic burden on children.
So, the NCERT powers that be have dropped Darwin’s theory on evolution from class 9 textbooks and the periodic table from class 10 textbooks and included both in class 11 books, but mind you, only for the science stream.
It has also dropped Mughal history, the Industrial Revolution, partition of India from history textbooks in the humanities stream for classes 11 and 12. Also wiped out from political science are topics like the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi, India’s five-year plans, the emergency and democratic protests in the country.
Kerala, a left-run state, has squarely refused to accept these omissions, and its Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, has re-released those textbooks with all portions removed by the NCERT, saying, “chapter(s) dropped in history, politics, economics etc., cannot be justified by any academic group.”
“NCERT had made many revisions to the textbooks of classes 6 to 12. The Kerala Government had opposed this decision academically. The argument for the revisions relied on reducing the burden on children in the aftermath of Covid-19, however, anyone who sees the text can realize that these changes are not for an academic reason but to fulfil certain nefarious purposes,” according to a statement released by the Kerala education department.
Meanwhile, the NCERT has constituted a 19-member panel that will have the authority to finalize the curriculum, textbooks and learning material for classes 3 to 12. Some of the personalities in this panel called the National Syllabus and Teaching Learning Material Committee (NCTC) include Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murthy, singer Shankar Mahadevan and badminton player U. Vimal Kumar. The appointment of these three personalities in the panel has divided the internet, with many doubting their credentials to have a say in developing the school curriculum.
However, the other members of the committee leave little room for debate.
Distinguished academician Mahesh Chandra Pant, chancellor of the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), will head this 19-member panel. Prof. Manjul Bhargava – who has won the Fields Medal, the highest award in mathematics – will co-chair the committee.
The others in the group are Dr. Bibek Roy, a renowned economist; Dr. Shekhar Mande, Secretary at the government’s Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR); Dr. Sujatha Ramodrai, the first Indian to win the ICTP Ramanujan Prize; Prof. Michel Danimo, a Franco-Indian historian; Suraina Rajan, a retired IAS officer; Chamu Krishna Shastry, a veteran Sanskrit educationist; Sanjeev Sanyal, a well-known economist; Dr. MD Srinivas, Chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies in Chennai; Gajanan Londhe, NSTC’s program office head; and Dr. Rabin Chhetri, Director of the State Council of Education and Research Training (SCERT).
All in all, it seems, our future is in safe hands. Fingers crossed.