Anu Parthiban|Jan 18, 2022
Correct or delete 'erroneous facts' from NCERT history textbooks: Parliamentary Panel
The report tabled in Parliament today, also recommends a common syllabus for schools to be implemented by central and state boards.
NEW DELHI: Stressing on the need to ensure “balance and diversity” in the school textbooks, a Parliamentary committee on education has recommended that errors in the school curriculum be investigated thoroughly and rectified.
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The Parliamentary Standing Committee on education, women, children, youth, and sports had been entrusted with the task to examine and seek inputs from all stakeholders for the improvement of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks. Public responses were invited on the proposed changes. According to the report, tabled in the Rajya Sabha on November 30, the committee received around 20,000 emails.
The bulk of its recommendations relates to the teaching of history and “ancient wisdom”. The report suggests that a “core class-wise common syllabus” be developed centrally, by the ministry of education, and be implemented in central and state schools and also a “monitoring mechanism” for content in textbooks by private publishers. The panel report also recommends digitising textbooks and adding audio-visual elements with QR codes. It has also argued for better representation of women and female historical figures, the northeastern states, and India’s linguistic diversity.
The report stated that several historical figures and freedom fighters of the Indian freedom struggle have been portrayed in an incorrect manner as offenders. The committee, led by BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabhuddhe, has called for the removal of these distorted facts.
To that effect, “the NCERT is in the process of constituting a committee to immediately analyze and address some of the issues with regard to un-historical facts and distortions about our national heroes as well as events if any raised by different stakeholders”, the report stated.
Moreover, the panel has recommended that “ancient wisdom, knowledge and teachings about life and society from Vedas” must be incorporated in national and state-level school curriculum. For teachers, the committee suggested studying the educational methodologies used in ancient universities like Nalanda, Vikramshila, and Takshila to improve their pedagogical skills.
In September, the education ministry had set up the national steering committee led by former Indian Space Research Organisation chief K Kasturirangan to update the National Curriculum Framework or NCF to frame guidelines for changes in the NCERT curriculum. The panel’s recommendations will also be incorporated into the NCF guidelines.
NCERT Textbooks: ‘Unity in diversity’
The committee has “strongly recommended” the need to address the unequal representation of regional history for a “balanced and judicious perception of the Indian freedom struggle.”
“The Committee, in the context of the unequal representation of various periods and dynasties in the history textbooks by the stakeholders, observes that NCERT should take a relook at the guidelines for the writing of the history textbooks so that equal weightage and importance is given to the various eras, periods and events in the history textbooks,” the panel suggested. The committee further asked for adequate coverage of some of the Indian empires such as Vikramaditya, Cholas, Chalukyas, Vijaynagar, Gondwana, or that of Travancore and Ahoms of the North-Eastern region in the school textbooks.
Earlier, the Indian History Congress, the largest body of historians in South Asia, had criticised the Parliamentary committee's unfounded allegation that NCERT books contain “distortion” of history on national heroes and disproportionate attention to the Mughal era and Muslim rulers. The body had asked the Parliamentary committee to revise the NCERT textbooks only in “consensus” with the historians and scholars of the country.
Emphasising the need to rectify the underrepresentation of women and girls in school textbooks, the committee called for a thorough analysis of gender bias and stereotypes in school books. “The textbooks should have a greater portrayal of women in new and emerging professions, as role models with a focus on their contributions and pathway of achieving the same,” the report said. The committee also suggested that SCERTs identify regional historical figures to highlight the contribution of local personalities.
CBSE, State board: Common school syllabus
To maintain uniformity in educational standards in the country, the panel further suggested that the education ministry develop a “core class-wise common syllabus” to be implemented by central and state boards. Books by private publishers must be scrutinised, the report said.
“All books especially history books other than published by Government agencies used for supplementary reading may be in consonance with the structure or content of NCERT books to avoid discrepancies. Also, the Ministry of Education should develop a monitoring mechanism for ensuring the same,” the report further stated. To avoid discrepancies, the committee has also called for the scrutiny of private publishers and authors at some level. “This may ensure commonality of approach and thereby cause no confusion,” the panel reasoned.
In line with the National Education Policy (NEP 2020), the panel emphasised on the need to prioritise the use of information technology and digital devices. “Introduction of modern technologies and methodologies for the dissemination of information as part of teaching strategies should be undertaken preferably after enabling the possibility of the same uniformly in every part of the country. Schools in remote corners of the country should be suitably equipped for the same,” the report said.
Moreover, it suggested the need to revamp the syllabus for more “experiential learning” and textbooks to be based on competencies rather than content.
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