NCERT’s textbook ‘rationalisation’ exercise raises questions of political intent, is at odds with progressive thrust of NEP

News: It is reported that the NCERT is going to introduce sweeping changes in social science textbooks for Classes VI to XII. It will involve deletion and modification of certain contents of the NCERT books

The NCERT’s Rationale

The changes are being introduced as a “rationalisation exercise”. This is aimed to reduce the curriculum load to help students make a “speedy recovery” in learning after the Covid-induced disruptions.

What are the proposed changes?

It will delete content related to chapters in history that have acquired political overtones under the current ruling establishment. For example, the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire.

Some changes will be introduced in certain moments in India’s recent political history. For example, the Emergency in 1975-77 and the communal violence in Gujarat 2002.

What are the issues and concerns in this project?

Some of the revisions will impact the learning of the students related to the inequities of the caste system and the impact of social and protest movements such as the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

The proposed changes seem to be motivated by the urge to protect the authority of the state from questions, arguments and criticism. Therefore, it raises the questions on the political non-partisanship and autonomous functioning of the NCERT.

It seems that the proposed changes aim to project the notion of a cohesive Hindu society through NCERT books/.

There is a lack of transparency in the functioning of the NCERT. For example, the name of the “external experts” has not been revealed in the public domain.

The learning loss can be best recovered through classroom-level interventions, such as empowering teachers.

The pandemic-related exigencies do not require making permanent deletions and attenuating the content of textbooks.

The social scientists argue that the content which is proposed to be changed is important to encourage critical thinking of a complex understanding of social and political processes that took place in the past.

It is the responsibility of a historian to depict a nuanced view of the past.

Source: The post is based on an article “NCERT’s textbook ‘rationalisation’ exercise raises questions of political intent, is at odds with progressive thrust of NEP” published in the Indian Express on 22nd June 2022. 

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