The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Madhyamik to break free of time warp

Calcutta, Nov. 4: For the first time since it came to power a quarter century ago, the Left Front government is set to bring about a change in the Madhyamik syllabus to strike a balance with the Higher Secondary system.

The government had formed an expert committee in 1997 following pressure from various quarters to revise the dated syllabus. The committee headed by the former president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Chittaranjan Banerjee, submitted its report last month with recommendations for sweeping changes in the Madhyamik and Higher Secondary syllabi.

Sources in the education department said the Madhyamik syllabus had not been revised since 1978. The Higher Secondary syllabus was last changed in 1985.

“The committee feels that the syllabus should be restructured and it must be realistic and in tune with the need of the hour and modern concepts. The course of materials in each subject should be fixed in accordance with the availability of classes,’’ the report said.

Underlining the students’ need to be aware of environment and ecology, the committee suggested that specific chapters on air, noise and water pollution and green house effect be included along with ones on the adverse effects of pesticides and chemical fertilisers in Madhyamik science.

To make room for the new chapters, the committee has suggested that some of the older theoretical ones can be deleted.

The report has also suggested a separate chapter on blood donation for classes IX and X.

The committee wanted physical science and life science to be clubbed into one up to Class VIII.

The panel said the first language paper (Bengali) should include the lives and works of Raja Rammohun Roy, Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray, Satyen Bose, Meghnad Saha, Sister Nivedita, and Subhas Chandra Bose.

In life science for classes IX and X, the committee suggested that the syllabus should include a detailed discussion on malaria and AIDS.

It added that some chapters should be taken from Class X and be included in the syllabus for Class IX’s history and geography to strike a balance. Only Indian history should be taught in Class IX and world history be kept for Class X, the experts felt.

“The committee’s aim is to ensure that students in classes IX or Class X are not over-burdened while coping with their history or geography syllabi,” an official of the school education department said.

The committee also emphasised the need for uniformity in courses and availability of texts.

Manuscripts of books on all subjects should be prepared under the direct supervision of the Madhyamik board and the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education and sent to “reputed publishers” for printing and distribution, the experts said.

While setting questions for internal or external examinations, care should be taken to ensure that all the chapters are covered, the report said.

As the president of the Madhyamik board was the ex-officio convener of the committee, and the man at the helm changed a couple of times, the report took time to shape up, said former convener Arun Kiran Chakraborty. “We have held conventions and workshops with experts, took people’s opinion and discussed the matter with teachers’ and students’ organisations,’’ he added.

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