The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bye-bye black sheep in MP
- State ‘Indianises’ curriculum by cutting out children’s rhymes

Bhopal, June 13: Like Birmingham some years ago, Bhopal has decided to ban Baa, baa, black sheep in government schools.

But the BJP regime has also banned Twinkle, twinkle, little star, Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Jack and Jill went up the hill, Johnny, Johnny, yes, papa and all other rhymes that children love to spout in front of proud parents and grandparents.

Instead, schools have been asked to teach tales from the life of Ahilya Bai Holker, the legendary ruler of Indore from 1767 to 1795, and Gond (tribal) folklores.

Ahilya Bai is credited with building and renovating a number of temples, including Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi and Vishnupad in Gaya.

State education minister Narottam Mishra said today: “We intend to Indianise our school curriculum. English poems written by foreigners will be replaced with Indian authors and Indian subjects. It will be beneficial for our children,” he said.

But Ramadhin, a resident of Idgah Hills, was dismayed that his daughter would no longer have to recite “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”. “Every time she sings it, her eyes light up and I cherish that look on her face,” he said.

School education director Shakuntala Srivastva said the syllabus for Classes I, IV and VII is being revised for the new academic session. “We are going to do it gradually.”

In 1999, guidelines from the Birmingham City Council in England suggested that Baa, Baa, black sheep should not be taught in schools because it was seen as racially negative and could cause offence. But after coloured parents described the advice as “ridiculous”, the guidelines were dropped early in 2000.

Baa, Baa, black sheep, first published in 1744, was written to help children associate wool with the animal that produces it, not to mention the sound a sheep makes.

Parents and teachers will be hoping the Bhopal ban goes the Birmingham way. Saima Khan, a teacher in the private Super Kids School, said this was a “needless” step to deprive children from learning the most melodious rhymes. “We seem to be changing everything for the sake of change,” Khan said, adding she was grateful the decision applied only to government schools.

Government teachers said their lips were “sealed” and they would have to abide by the decision. “We have no say in such matters,” said Devender Kumar, a schoolteacher, but added he would miss teaching the nursery rhymes to young students.

Last week, the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government had “renewed” a ban on fashion shows in girls’ colleges. The ban was imposed a year ago by another BJP chief minister, Babulal Gaur, but was not enforced. The makes it clear it will be now.

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