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Panel calls for HS syllabus update

The committee appointed by the state government last July to review what is taught in school has suggested that several contemporary events and works be included in the HS history, English and Bengali syllabuses.

The panel, headed by Avik Majumder, handed over its report to HS council president Muktinath Chatterjee on Monday. The council would table the draft recommendations in an executive council meeting before sending them to the school education department by the end of the month.

If the department approves the recommendations, textbooks incorporating the changes will be published by June next year, Chatterjee told Metro.

The topics the committee wants included in the history syllabus include the Cold War, non-aligned movement, nuclear arms race, conflict between Israel and Arab countries, 2008-09 recession and the emergence of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

“We have restructured the syllabus thematically. For example, the Israel and Arab world conflict is covered under the topic ‘Arab world’,” said Majumder.

Mohun Bagan’s victory over East Yorkshire Regiment club in the IFA Shield in 1911 is going to feature in the Class X history syllabus so that students can learn how it fostered nationalism in Bengal.

History teachers welcomed the move. “The contemporary topics are likely to make the subject more interesting,” said Abid Ali, a history teacher at Hindu School.

The committee has advocated that writings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, J.B. Priestley, Pablo Neruda, William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, Vikram Seth, Gulzar, Khushwant Singh, R.K. Narayanan, Anita Desai and Satyajit Ray be included in the HS English syllabus. “The committee wanted to broaden the perspective. Therefore writings that reflect contemporary times and ideas have been included,” said a committee member.

Some English teachers were circumspect about the proposed changes. “Many of the teachers are not familiar with the contemporary writings,” said Bipul Bhattacharya, English teacher at Hare School.

The proposed changes in the Bengali syllabus are inclusion of works by Buddhadeb Basu, Arun Mitra, Bishnu De, Samar Sen, Subhash Mukhopadhyay, Sankha Ghosh, Joy Goswami and Mallika Sengupta.

The panel has recommended that the poem Athero Bochhor Boyesh by Sukanta Bhattacharjee, uncle of former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, be dropped from the syllabus. “Sukanta’s early death denied him the scope to contribute in the 1940s, a decade we wanted portrayed in poems,” said Majumder.

The committee recently handed over the report containing recommendations for overhauling the Class IX and X history syllabus to the secondary board. These recommendations have been accepted, said a senior official of the school education department.