NEW DELHI: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports in its report on “Reforms in Content and Design of School Text Books,” recommended that “textbooks should highlight the lives of hitherto unknown men and women from different states and districts who have positively influenced our national history, honour, and one-ness,” on Tuesday. The committee while suggesting that the NCERT and SCERTs should primarily focus on providing core content through their textbooks also it recommended that to maintain uniformity in educational standards of school students across the country the ministry (of education) ministry explore the possibility of developing a core class-wise common syllabus for various subjects for implementation by CBSE, CICSE and various other State education.
Chaired by Rajya Sabha MP Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe, the 32-member committee observed against the backdrop of the revision of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) consequent to the announcement of the New Education Policy NEP 2020, the report is focusing on ‘Removing references to un-historical facts and distortions about our national heroes from the text books,’ ‘Ensuring equal or proportionate references to all periods of Indian History’ and ‘Highlighting the role of great historic women achievers, including Gargi, Maitreyi, or rulers like Rani of Jhansi, Rani Channamma, Chand Bibi, Zalkari Bai, etc.’
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The Committee received approximately 20,000 representations from experts, individuals and organizations on the subject pointing to discrepancies/omissions in the school textbooks. Speaking on history, the Committee in its discussions with the stakeholders observes “that the United Nations, through one of its most important agencies, namely UNESCO, had formulated comprehensive guidelines for history which would foster world peace, tolerance and advancement of universal values of democracy and human rights. They emphasized on the need for highlighting social, economic, cultural and scientific history and the requirement for toning down the history of conflicts. Hitherto marginalized groups, especially women, and the values of ‘Unity in Diversity’ and ‘pluralism’ should gain prominence in the teaching of history.”
The report also stated that in the context of the unequal representation of various periods and dynasties in the history textbooks by the stakeholders, 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. “Similarly, it was observed that school textbooks do not give adequate coverage to some of the great Indian empires like that of Vikramaditya, Cholas, Chalukyas, Vijaynagar, Gondwana or that of Travancore and Ahoms of North-Eastern region, whose contributions in expansion of India’s standing on the world stage cannot be ignored.”
On textbooks design, the committee recommended that inputs from experts from multiple disciplines should be sought to ensure balance and diversity of views and there is a need to have more child-friendly textbooks. “This is possible through enhanced use of pictures, graphics, QR codes, and other audio-visual materials. Children should be taught through enhanced use of games, plays, dramas, workshops, visits to places of historical importance, museums etc. as such approaches will ignite their inquisitiveness and analytical abilities.”
Another recommendation of the committee is to incorporate the ancient wisdom, knowledge and teachings about life and society from Vedas and other great Indian Texts/ Books in the school curriculum.
The report stated that “Contributions of ancient India in the fields of Philosophy, Science, Mathematics, Medicine, Ayurveda, Epistemology, Natural sciences, Politics, Economy, Ethics, Linguistics, Arts, etc may also be included in the textbooks. The traditional Indian knowledge systems should be linked with modern science and presented in the contemporary context in NCERT textbooks,” as it suggested that the NCERT should consider the suggestions received by this Committee, while framing the NCF and syllabus of the textbooks.