73 academics, including vice chancellors of major institutions, released a declaration in the midst of the controversy over the substantial alteration of the original curriculum National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks, claiming that “false propaganda is being spread against the council.”
They further stated that efforts were being made to obstruct the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020’s implementation in order to further political objectives.
The announcement comes just days after 33 academicians who served on the textbook development committee for the currently used, 2006–2007 National Curriculum Framework (NCF)–based textbooks wrote a letter to the council claiming that their creative collective effort had been jeopardised by the recent syllabus rationalisation exercise. They also requested that their names be removed from the current textbooks.
Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palshikar, two former NCERT consultants, then distanced themselves from the “rationalised” political science textbooks.
The 73 academicians claimed in a statement released late on Thursday night that their counterparts who wanted their names removed from the textbooks were only interested in garnering media attention and seemed to have forgotten that textbooks are the result of extensive research and collective intellectual engagement.
They stated, “The last update of textbooks was undertaken in 2006,” before going on to note that the Indian school curriculum has not been revised in almost two decades. By rationalising the curriculum and making the information pertinent to current demands, the present NCERT team has been working consistently to lessen the workload on students and improve learning outcomes.
“The academics who have proposed the textbook revisions have not advocated any epistemological rupture in the existing realm of knowledge; rather, they have merely rationalised the course material in light of current knowledge needs.It is stated that every new generation has the right to contribute to or remove from the body of existing knowledge with regard to who chooses what is acceptable and what is desired,” they added.
Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, the vice chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Suresh Kumar, the vice chancellor of the English and Foreign Languages University, Sanjay Srivastava, the vice chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Motihari, Shambhu Nath Singh, the vice chancellor of Tezpur Central University, Shrinivasa Varakhedi, the vice chance
Academicians claimed that this time’s author selection procedure, which took place throughout the exercise in rationalisation, was far more open and morally sound than it had been in the past.
They claimed that the procedure for choosing the scholars for this duty was entirely liberal, democratic, and humanistic.
The signatories claimed that it is intellectually arrogant of certain academics to insist that students continue to study from textbooks that are 17 years old rather than more recent editions.
“In their efforts to further their political agenda, they are willing to jeopardise the future of millions of youngsters around the nation. Updated textbooks are highly anticipated by students, but these academics continue to put up barriers and stymie progress… They intend to obstruct the rollout of the NEP and the updating of NCERT textbooks by misleading information, gossip, and accusations, they claimed.
They also extended an invitation to thinkers, academics, and concerned people to join their petition in order to expose self-serving academics who are trying to sabotage the implementation of NEP 2020 and the much required and long overdue updating of school curricula.
The criticism of NCERT’s redesigned textbooks, according to UGC head M Jagadesh Kumar, is “unwarranted” and he agreed with the remark.
The NCERT has previously periodically updated textbooks. The rationalisation of NCERT’s textbook content is very justified. According to NCERT, feedback and recommendations from many stakeholders are the starting point for textbook revision. The National Curriculum Framework for School Education, which was just released, will serve as the foundation for the new set of textbooks that NCERT is preparing. The existing textbooks, whose contents have been rationalised to lighten the academic load, are only a transitory phase, according to NCERT. Given this, there is no justification for the clamour of these “academicians.” They appear to be complaining for reasons other than intellectual ones, he said.
An ongoing political debate has existed ever since NCERT textbooks were rationalised last year. In the process, allusions to the theory of evolution, the Cold War, the Mughal courts, the industrial revolution, the 2002 Gujarat riots, the role of agriculture to the Indian economy, and a section on democratic difficulties were all removed.
The modifications were implemented as part of a council-led effort to streamline the curriculum in light of the Covid-19 outbreak and lessen the workload on students.
In its answer, NCERT said that for the entire exercise and revision, it contacted up to 25 external experts and 16 CBSE instructors.
The union ministry of education consulted specialists in seven fields, including history, political science, economics, geography, commerce and business studies, sociology, and psychology, according to a written response it provided to Parliament on July 18, 2022.