Radical Changes In NCERT Textbooks – Poverty, Inequality, Democracy Among Topics Removed

Students in Class 6 will no longer study about food and where it comes from. They also lack chapters on the fundamentals of democracy, as well as on India’s climate and biodiversity. Students in Class 7 would no longer be taught about the fight for equality, a chapter that explained the elements that contribute to various forms of inequality in India. The chapter also included information on well-known equality efforts, such as the women’s movement and the Tawa Matsya Sangh, which advocates for the rights of displaced forest inhabitants in Madhya Pradesh.

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Why In The News?

  • Over The Last Six Years, NCERT Has Made Three Rounds Of Major Changes In Its Textbooks – Mainly History, Political Science, And Sociology – For Students In Classes 6-12.
  • Food, Poverty, Inequality, Democracy Etc Among Topics No Longer Part Of NCERT Textbooks.
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What Has NCERT Said About It?

  • NCERT Says That The Cuts, Which Were First Announced In May 2022, Were Made To Ensure A “Speedy Recovery” In Learning After The Coronavirus Pandemic.
  • “Difficulty Level, Overlapping Content, And Content Irrelevant In The Present Context” Are Some Of The Reasons Listed By NCERT For Dropping The Chapters From The Curriculum.
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Key Takeaways:

  • High School Students Will Have Radically Different Textbooks Soon, With Several Key Subjects Dropped From Government-issue Reading Material That Has Sparked Concern About Their Academic Proficiency.
  • The National Council Of Educational Research And Training (NCERT) Deciding To Cut Chapters Under Its “Rationalization” Move Could Hit Over 134 Million Students In The Age Group Of 11-18.
  • Class 6 Students Will No Longer Learn About Food And Where It Comes From. They Also Don’t Have Chapters Now On The Key Elements Of Democracy And On India’s Climate And Wildlife.
  • Students In Class 7 Will Not Learn About The Struggle For Equality. The Chapter Also Had Information On The Famous Struggles For Equality, Such As The Women’s Movement And Tawa Matsya Sangh, Which Fights For The Rights Of Displaced Forest Dwellers In Madhya Pradesh.
  • Two Of The Topics Which Seem To Have Been Hit The Hardest Across Classes Are Democracy And Mughal Rule In India, Chapters On Which Have Been Dropped From Classes 6, 9, 10, 11, And 12th.
  • Chapters On Poverty, Peace, Development, and States Of Matter Are Among Those That Are No Longer A Part Of NCERT’s Class 11 Textbooks. For Class 12 Students – Gujarat Riots, Understanding Partition, Cold War And Reproduction In Organisms Are Some Of The Chapters Which Have Been Dropped.
  • Earlier This Year, More Than 1,800 Scientists And Educators Had Written An Open Letter Against The Theory Of Evolution Being Dropped From The Class 10 Science Textbook. The Government, Though, Has Rejected All Criticism As Propaganda.
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Revision Of Textbooks By NDA Govt Since 2014:

  • The First Round, In 2017, Was Termed A “Review” Rather Than A Revision.
  • The Review Resulted In 1,334 Changes Across 182 Books.
  • New References To Schemes Introduced By The Narendra Modi Government, Increased Content On Ancient Indian Knowledge And Practices.
  • A Focus On Nationalist Icons Who Had Been Overlooked In The Country’s Collective Memory, According To The BJP And Right-wing Advocates.
  • Just A Year Later, In 2018, At The Request Of Then Education Minister Prakash Javadekar, The NCERT Initiated A Second Round Of Revisions, Known As “Textbook Rationalization”, To Reduce The “Syllabus Burden” On Students.
  • Ultimately, The Council Achieved A 20% Reduction, Primarily In Social Science Textbooks, While Keeping Cuts In Mathematics And Sciences To The Minimum.
  • This Exercise Led To The Deletion Of Several Chapters.
  • Among The Chapters Deleted From History Textbooks Was One On Clothing And How Social Movements Influenced How We Dressed.
  • Another On The History Of Cricket In India And Its Connection To The Politics Of Caste, Region And Community.
  • Less Than Three Years Later, The NCERT Announced A Third Round Of Textbook Rationalization.
  • The Official Reason For This Latest Exercise Was To Reduce The Curriculum Load Further And To Help Students Recover From Learning Disruptions Caused By The Covid-19 Pandemic.
  • In June 2022, The NCERT Made Public A List Of Changes And Deletions In The Reprinted Textbooks That Came Into The Market Recently.
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Controversies Around NCERT Textbooks Earlier?

  • NCERT Textbooks Are No Stranger To Controversies As They Have, Over The Years, Become The Government’s Medium For Political Communication And A Battleground Of Competing Ideologies.
  • New Textbooks Drafted In 2002-03, When The First NDA Government (Of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) Was In Power, Were Criticised For Portraying The Muslim Rulers Of India As Savage Invaders.
  • The Medieval Period As A Gloomy Era Of Islamic Domination That Cast A Dark Shadow Over The Brilliance Of Preceding Hindu Empires. These Textbooks Were Scrapped Immediately After The UPA-I Government Came To Power In 2004.
  • The UPA Government Made Its Own Changes To School Textbooks. In 2012, Cartoons That Were Deemed Derogatory To Jawaharlal Nehru And B R Ambedkar Were Removed From Political Science Textbooks.
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Why do Parties In Power Do So?

  • School Textbooks Have Always Been Seen As Playing A Crucial Role In Shaping National Narratives And As A Tool For Cultivating A Desired National Identity.
  • NCERT Textbooks Are Read By More Than 5 Crore Students In 18 States Around The Country, Who Are Seen By Political Parties As A Large Captive Audience With Impressionable Minds.
  • It’s Not Just School Students Either – Candidates Preparing For Competitive Exams Such As The Civil Services Examination, SSC, JEE, And NEET, Also Rely On These Textbooks.
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