Rationale Missing From CBSE’s Syllabus Rationalisation Process
We need to see if the intent really is to reduce pressure or to get rid of everything the government is wary of.
It sounds very reasonable that the CBSE woke up to reduce the teaching and learning pressures during this pandemic. But has the pressure really been reduced or has the exercise further pressurised the lives of teachers, which is already under stress?
The teachers are already burdened by issues of technology and connectivity. Affordability of smart devices in middle class homes is also an issue. The teachers in most schools had their lesson plans ready which need to be reworked.
However, is it really a haphazard deletion of some sections or are there a few additions as well? Let us explore that first.
One of the English teachers told me that the testing pattern has been changed radically for class 9 and 10. Now grammar will be tested through multiple choice questions, and clauses have been removed.
Even the reference to context section will have multiple choice questions, which earlier used to have short answer type questions.
In Democracy, Should Challenges Not Be Taught?
Even in geography, the evolution of earth finds no place and climate change surprisingly is out. The latter is our everyday concern which students need to be engaged with from the beginning itself. Many schools have been running campaigns through students to emphasise the hazardous effects of climate change in our lives.
When the country is being hit by dozens of earthquakes in the past few months, we see the CBSE removing a section on natural hazards and disasters. These were quite avoidable lapses. A little more thinking could have brought in a better result.
I do not know much about biology but still the chapters removed here look strange. How can biology be taught without students knowing about digestion and locomotion?
We need to see if the intent is really to reduce pressure or to get rid of everything which the ruling dispensation is wary of. The choice of deleted sections makes that quite obvious. There is much to suspect the intent because these are chapters which deal with subjects students should know about.
For example, there should be no debate on environmental issues. Students need to know about them. Why should that be deleted?
In the updated curriculum for class 10, the students will not be taught about democracy and diversity, gender, religion and caste, popular struggles and movements, and challenges to democracy.
Why should diversity be dispensed with in a country as diverse as India? It has always been our strength though some of us tend to see it as our weakness. Why should a democracy not teach about challenges to democracy? Possibly they do not want to teach children about it as they live in a challenged democracy already.
Why Delete Federalism, Demonetisation?
Most of the chapters deleted are crucial for us in many ways. A different set of choices could have been made to avoid messing with the core subjects.
Secularism seems to be a dispensable subject on so many counts, so why teach it in schools? We have been debating citizenship for the last one year, but still won’t like the students to read about it.
As I said above, most of the chapters deleted from the political science curriculum are the core of the subject such as federalism, which has been found redundant.
Even nationalism, which needs to be discussed in schools, finds no place. I say this because nationalism is in the air for the last few years, it foregrounds most of the policy decisions. Yet it won’t be taught in class 12.
The choice of chapters is really intriguing. There will be no chapters on India’s neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, nothing about the changing nature of India’s economic development, social movements and even demonetisation.
It is difficult to comprehend why something as recent as demonetisation need to be deleted. Why should students not know about the impact of this major decision? In a democracy like India, which is both diverse and unequal, social movements occupy a central place. However, this is being dispensed with for class 12 students.
There is no issue about lessening the burden during these extraordinary times. However, one finds the choices made pretty awkward. The exercise has been called rationalising the curriculum, I wish the process itself was a bit more rational.
(Prof S Irfan Habib had earlier occupied the Maulana Azad Chair at National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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