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Smriti nod to UPA textbooks

New Delhi, July 14: Human resource development minister Smriti Irani today defended the national curriculum framework adopted by the UPA government, saying the 2005 guidelines for preparing textbooks “takes care” of new developments in the school education system.

The minister’s written reply in the Rajya Sabha came in response to a question by a Samajwadi MP who had asked whether the government had considered any proposal to overhaul the framework.

“The present national curriculum framework (NCF-2005) takes care of any new development and concern in the school level education system,” Irani said.

Irani said the 2005 document follows five principles: connecting knowledge to life outside the school; ensuring that learning is shifted from rote methods; enriching the curriculum to provide for overall development of children; making examinations more flexible, and nurturing an overriding identity within the democratic polity of the country.

Dina Nath Batra, an RSS member and president of the NGO Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas who early last month had called for a “complete revision” of school textbooks to include teachings from the Vedas and the Upanishads, said he didn’t agree with what the minister said.

“The curriculum should be revised periodically in view of new developments happening in different subjects,” Batra told The Telegraph.

Batra’s call for “complete revision” had come at a time the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) had started revising school curricula based on what he said was “their ideology” — the 2005 framework prepared by the UPA I government.

Irani said the curriculum developed by the NCERT infused arts, heritage and craft across subjects at all levels, which helps in developing sensitivity towards various cultures. “Cultural aspects in education are an integral part of school curriculum at all the stages,” she said.

But Batra said the textbooks prepared according to the 2005 guidelines lacked value education. Batra recently wrote to the HRD minister, saying the NCERT should not be allowed to revise textbooks without changing the 2005 document.

An expert associated with preparing the 2005 framework said the document does not subscribe to any particular ideology. “Some 30 states and Union territories have adopted NCERT textbooks and syllabi prepared on NCF principles. These states include many ruled by the BJP.”

Among the states that have adopted the NCERT textbooks are BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.