The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anti-war pitch in primary syllabus

With the battle raging in Iraq, the state primary education board has decided to include topics related to war and its fallout in the syllabi. The decision was taken at a series of recent workshops in Calcutta, attended by senior board officials, teachers and Leftist intellectuals.

“It is definitely the Iraq war that has prompted us to realise the necessity of devoting at least a small portion of the primary syllabus to fanning anti-war sentiments. Our aim is to make children understand from a young age the evil aspects of war and the kind of destruction it can cause,” said West Bengal Board of Primary Education president Jyotiprokash Ghosh.

Sources in the school education department say the workshops were organised by the board as part of a three-month scheme for overhauling the entire primary school syllabus — an exercise that had been pending with the board for the past two decades. “The inclusion of the war-related topics was not planned before the workshops began three months ago. The Iraq war made us realise that adequate stress should be laid in the syllabus on anti-war sentiments,” said a board official. Once the proposal gets the final nod from the state education department, anti-war stories will be incorporated into the primary syllabus for the first time.

The board president said the anti-war theme is most likely to be included in the first-language syllabus. The stories, however, will “strictly” not be based on any “specific war, like the present one in Iraq... Instead, they will give a general idea on the evil aspects of all wars, such as how they break out, the weapons used, the kind of destruction they can cause, and so on. “In addition,” according to Board president Ghosh, “we also intend to develop a preliminary idea on why we need peace in the world.”

This apart, the board plans to make it compulsory for all state-aided primary schools to observe certain international and national events that can help develop an anti-war feeling among students. For example, each of the 60,000 primary schools may be asked to observe Hiroshima Day and ensure that each student participates in the programmes.

Board sources said the draft recommendations will be submitted to the education department for its approval on April 30.

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