‘No controversy’ over NCERT deletions, states free to teach what they want: School education secy


New Delhi: State governments can choose to teach whatever they wish to, school education secretary Sanjay Kumar told ThePrint, in the context of the Kerala government deciding to teach students portions which have been deleted from the new National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks for the academic year which started this month.

The secretary spoke exclusively to ThePrint on the sidelines of the G-20 education working group meeting, currently on in Bhubaneswar.

“As we all know that education is a concurrent subject and the SCERTs [State Council of Educational Research and Training] can decide what they want to include in their curriculum. If Kerala wishes to teach something to its students, it’s free to do so,” said Kumar.

The Kerala SCERT said Monday that it was going to teach some portions which had been deleted from NCERT textbooks. ThePrint had earlier reported that some schools across India have also decided to teach science subjects to students from old books as the new ones are missing some concepts.

New books with “rationalised” syllabus were introduced in schools around the country with the start of the new academic session this month. This rationalisation — in the name of “easing the burden” on students in the wake of Covid-19 — included deletions from the History textbooks, such as the removal of an entire chapter on Mughal history, references to caste and inequality, mention of 2002 Gujarat riots, and a portion about Mahatma Gandhi’s life and his assassination by Nathuram Godse.

The deletions had drawn criticism, with some historians even demanding that the changes be withdrawn. Science books too some important concepts deleted from them.

Talking about the issue, Kumar said that there is “no controversy” and that whatever was done was because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He further said that new books which will come out in 2024 will “herald a new beginning of pedagogy”. They will be based on a “well-thought exercise”, he said.

“Our books are going to be leaner and heavy on concepts and the child will be expected to reimagine and imagine,” Kumar said, adding that the books will be out much before the next academic session for 2024-25 begins.

He also added that the books will combine skill-based education with theory. Classrooms and teaching periods will also be structured according to the new books.

Also Read: Deleting history from NCERT textbooks is lying to children. It’s also betraying parents

‘How to give options to students’

Apart from science laboratories, the schools will have skill labs, where students will be tested for the skills that they have learnt in the classroom, Kumar said.

“If they are learning to do something with their hands, they will have to be tested for that,” he explained.

The new books will be based on the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), the draft for which was released by the ministry of education early this month. Among other things, the draft talks about making Mathematics easier for children and including tales of local heroes in history books.

The draft has been put up online on the NCERT website for public feedback. Once finalised, the draft will be circulated to the states.

“The states can either adopt the NCF or adapt. It is their choice what they want to keep,” Kumar said.

Discussion on skill-based learning is also a part of the discussions being held by the G-20 education working group, themed after “Future of work”.

According to the school education secretary, with so many options, students will have to be given a chance to choose what they want to study. “We are also trying to work this out in terms of how to give the option to students and what all they can take up,” he added.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also Read: Congress to BJP, Ambedkar cartoons to 2002 riots, NCERT syllabus’ run-in with political axe


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