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New HS syllabi from 2005

Calcutta, Dec. 2: The West Bengal Council for Higher Secondary Education today finalised its decision to introduce new syllabi for all streams from the 2005 session.

If the change finally takes place, it would be the first in 29 years.

The if is because of the fact that the new syllabi were supposed to be introduced this year itself but textbook publishers could not submit their draft copies to the council for scrutiny on time.

The higher secondary course, in its plus-II format, was introduced in 1975. Never after that has the syllabus been changed.

Publishers today assured the council at a meeting that they would submit the draft copies of the new textbooks by December 31 for final scrutiny.

Once the drafts are scrutinised, the publishers will get the final print orders. 'After getting the publishers' assurance, we are definite the revised syllabi will be implemented from the 2005 academic session. We are now working to ensure that the students rightly benefit from the revision,' council president Gopa Dutta said.

The revision process started nearly five years ago when the government felt the need to upgrade the course with the inclusion of modern topics in every subject. It was perceived then that HS students were ill equipped to take competitive exams at the national level or match students from other boards like the Delhi-based Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations.

At today's meeting, the council also decided to start organising workshops and training programmes for teachers based on the contents of the new syllabi.

'About 25 per cent of the syllabus in each subject has been changed. The teachers need to go through a series of orientation programmes to update their knowledge before they start teaching the course from the next academic session, scheduled to begin in June-July 2005,' a member of the council said.

The meeting also decided to engage as many teachers as possible to ensure that the final scrutiny of the draft textbooks is completed in time. Last year, the publishers submitted the draft copies to the council when there was little time to complete the scrutiny.

Besides, a dispute between the council and Visva-Bharati University over using 'modern' spellings in Tagore's works prescribed in the HS course also prompted the council to defer implementation of the revised syllabus. Finally, the council bowed to the university's pressure and decided not to change Tagore's spellings.

In the existing system, Visva-Bharati prints all HS English and Bengali language textbooks. The textbooks for the remaining subjects are printed by private publishers.

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