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Covid still cripples school text, NCERT yet to restore content removed over 'learning gaps'

The NCERT had in 2022 removed up to 40 per cent of content from textbooks on the ground that students had developed learning gaps. Academicians and researchers have criticised the NCERT, saying chapters were selectively removed from social science books to conform to the BJP government’s ideology

Basant Kumar Mohanty New Delhi Published 25.02.24, 06:32 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is yet to restore the content it had removed from textbooks citing learning gaps caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The NCERT has decided to continue with the same rationalised books in most classes, including classes X and XII, in 2024-25. It is, however, planning to introduce new textbooks in two classes in the primary section in 2024-25.

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The NCERT books are followed by around 15 school boards, including the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). A CBSE official said that the board had decided to continue with the current syllabi for classes X and XII for 2024-25.

“There will be no major change in the syllabi for board examinations for classes X and XII. The NCERT is not changing the syllabus. The NCERT has decided that the rationalised textbooks will continue for higher classes in 2024-25,” the official said.

The NCERT had in 2022 removed up to 40 per cent of content from textbooks on the ground that students had developed learning gaps due to Covid-related restrictions in 2020 and 2021. Academicians and researchers have criticised the NCERT, saying chapters were selectively removed from social science books to conform to the BJP government’s ideology.

Madhu Prasad, a retired faculty member of Delhi University, said the NCERT’s rationalisation exercise did not have any rationale. She said the NCERT should have restored all the removed texts as Covid-19 was over and schools were functioning normally.

“The removal of material was done on ideological grounds. The government wants to present that India had a homogenous culture, which is Sanskritised Brahminical culture. That is why the NCERT removed content on Mughals, Islamic history, caste struggle and even Darwin’s evolution theory. There was no rationale in the so-called rationalisation exercise,” Prasad said.

She said the NCERT’s decision not to restore the content was also based on ideological grounds. “If the NCERT restores the removed content, the effort to present cultural homogeneity would be diluted. It is true that India has been a land of diverse cultures and traditions. The government cannot accept it.”

She said the NCERT had secretly conducted rationalisation in the same way the government introduced the National Education Policy (NEP) without proper discussion with stakeholders. The NEP draft was not even referred to the Central Advisory Board of Education, a body having state education ministers as its members.

A DU faculty member said the NCERT’s reduced syllabus was not on par with what the students in other countries were learning. “By reducing the syllabus and keeping the reduced syllabus for long, the NCERT is doing injustice to the children. They will pass out with a false sense of their knowledge while they may know much less than their peers in other countries. India cannot become vishwaguru by denying students adequate material,” he said.

Despite phone calls, no comments could be obtained from NCERT director Dinesh Prasad Saklani on the criticism over the continuation of rationalised textbooks.

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