Changes in textbooks in non-CBSE schools

November 20, 2006, 12:00 am

After recommendation for changes in CBSE text books, a Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) Committee has suggested rectification of "anomalies" including alleged communal propaganda, gender and caste bias in textbooks prescribed by 11 state governments for non-CBSE-affiliated schools.

In a report presented to Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh today, the 10-member Committee co-chaired by eminent intellectual Zoya Hassan, said history in ’Saraswat Vidyalayas’ was being presented in a "distorted" form and steps needed to be taken to correct it.

"In our review of textbooks brought out by 11 states for schools not affiliated to CBSE, we have come across a lot of anomalies like communal poropoganda, gender and caste bias, besides distortion of history," Hassan told reporters.

The committee, also headed by Prof Gopal Guru, advocated change in the curriculum of ’madrasas’ saying this was not in tune with the present age.

Hassan said the report suggests setting up of a National Textbook Council which would act as an "interface between the civil society and the government for periodic review of textbooks."
The Committee for suggesting a ’Regulatory Mechanism for Text Books and Parallel Textbooks for Schools Outside the Government System’ recommended setting up of a Standing Committee on Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE).

"In many of the text books brought out by state governments, mythology has been presented in the garb of history. Besides these, we could find highly gender-biased representation of girls and casteist remarks," Hassan said.

HRD Minister Arjun Singh said the report would be discussed at the CABE meeting on July 14, along with reports of five other committees on various topics.

"There is a need to review text books of various state governments, but it is all for the states to decide. We will not force them to do so," Singh said when asked about the Ministry’s future course of action.

The Committee, which also reviewed books prescribed for ’madrasas’ (Islamic seminaries) found that these were "outdated" and "focused only on the Islamic way of life."

"In our report, we have mentioned that such text books will only lead to insular mindset among the Muslim community and also lead to their ghettoisation. There is an urgent need to review outdated syllabi prescribed in madrassas and also remove existing anomalies," Hassan said.

Elaborating on the proposed National Textbook Council, Prof Guru said it was not for "outright censorship of textbooks" but a forum, where even the public could air its objections towards distorted textbooks, which would be then forwarded to the Government for consideration.