The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This PagePrint This Page
Students in textbook crossfire

New Delhi, Oct. 17: The Opposition’s call for a boycott of NCERT’s new social science textbooks will land in a soup students appearing for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) examinations in Opposition-ruled states.

However, students taking the Indian Council of Secondary Education (ICSE) examinations will not face any difficulties.

The CBSE has implemented NCERT’s controversial curriculum while ICSE officials say the council was never bound by the NCERT’s rules.

“Our examination papers are based on a curriculum and not textbooks. The ICSE suggests a curriculum, which is then left to the schools to develop. The CBSE, on the other hand, is a prescriptive body. Its examination papers are also based on textbooks,” said Francis Fantome of the ICSE.

CBSE chairperson Ashok Ganguly said the central board had implemented the new curriculum in April when the current academic session began. “Barring social science and history textbooks, which were kept in abeyance because of the Supreme Court stay, all other new books are already in the classrooms. Now the new social science and Hindi textbooks are also being adopted,” he said.

This makes the fate of CBSE schools in Delhi — a state ruled by the main Opposition party, the Congress — uncertain. Senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh yesterday said his party high command has directed state governments ruled by the Congress not to use the new NCERT textbooks.

“Delhi is a perfect case for this kind of mismatch. The CBSE is implementing a curriculum already rejected by the ruling party. This is a cause for grave concern,” Fantome said.

On the other hand, in a state like West Bengal — which is also ruled by the Opposition — there is no dichotomy between the examination board and the government.

Most schools are run by the state government, which has its own board of examination, separate from both ICSE and CBSE. More than 95 per cent of children attend government schools. “We may have a mere 3 per cent of them in our schools,” Fantome said.

The ICSE officials believe a hue and cry is being raised for nothing. “Why is there so much of noise now about the NCERT curriculum' West Bengal has been giving its own type of education for more than three decades — education with a Leftist orientation,” Fantome said.

The ICSE ranks second in the state with 260 schools while the CBSE has about 30 schools under its wing.

“What is unfortunate is that till now we have been able to maintain a certain synchronisation in the curriculum. But now there will be a dichotomy of objectives in education in the states ruled by Opposition parties,” Fantome said.

Email This PagePrint This Page