Instruction, not indoctrination
Public education should teach how to think, not what to think.
A number of different organizations and
individuals have, in recent months, raised their voices in protest against
what they see to be the inclusion of ideologically motivated material in
the school curricula. Whereas differences among political parties
understandably lead to different intentions in the exercise of
administrative power, the use of authority to rewrite history or to
propagate particular religious expressions are clearly outside the realm
of mere differences in policy. The text below raises these concerns in a
letter to the prime minister of India.
Shri A. B. Vajpayee
Prime Minister of India
Subject: New curriculum changes and policy changes in
Dear Prime Minister,
We are concerned citizens who have been following
recent developments in the education
curriculum in India, represented by the new National
Curriculum Framework put forth by the NCERT, the new
Policy Framework for Reforms in Education, and by
recent changes in textbooks in some states. We are
deeply concerned about the future of India's education
and the effect it will have on future generations. We would like to raise the following concerns.
The Indian Education System must remain free of communalism
Lack of Representation for different Voices
The communalization of education evident in recent changes in textbooks and
in the tone of New Curriculum Framework is alarming. Textbooks in
institutions such as Vidya Bharati and Shishu Mandir,
the official text books in states such as Uttar
Pradesh and Rajasthan reflect narrow, partisan
viewpoints that amount to propaganda rather than to
education. The state's role in education is fund the intellectual and moral banks of our nation, not to invest these valuable resources in its own ideology. We call for a review of these textbooks.
The non-secular tone of the new framework goes against the
secular character of the Indian Republic. Moreover, in significant portions of the texts, history is simply rewritten in ways that distort facts to promote a particular ideology, rather than record the actual events which took place. This isn't scholarship. We demand that an unbiased and rational discussion with
education experts, academicians and elected representatives be held before the new framework is endorsed as a truly national policy.
Privatisation of Education
We feel that the New Curriculum Framework does not
reflect the cultural diversity of our nation and we
strongly emphasize that the multi-cultural nature of
Indian society has to find expression in the
Framework. The strongest bond that ties us together is a willingness to acknowledge and embrace the differences that span our multitude of cultures. The Framework erodes this important glue in our national fabric. The culture, traditions, important figures of several
marginalized sections of Indian society do not find
adequate representation in the Framework.
Value based education should not be equated to
religious education, but to universal values of
compassion, fairness and equality of all people. The test of India's famed religious pluralism lies in the security that religious minorities find for their views and ways of worship.
The recent textbook changes exacerbate existing gender inequalities; women are often portrayed as those who play subservient roles in society and that is unacceptable. Women - who constitute half the nation's populace - play a vital role in giving strength to the nation's foundation. Any education that does not support and nuture their intellectual development and provide for complete gender equality would only harm the country. We find the lack of gender equality in some rewritten textbooks disgraceful.
We are strongly opposed to increased privatisation of higher education as put forth in the new Policy Framework. With total privatisation, 98% of our youth will remain outside the reach of higher and technical education because they cannot afford it. The state being a welfare state, education policy should diminish the vast and unjust inequalities that exist instead of aggravating them.
We hope an end will be put to these alarming trends and our education will reaffirm India's commitment to secular and pluralistic values, and will promote social justice. The above statements represent the collective opinion of many concerned Indians who wish to see that changes in education policy and curriculum live up to the ideals of a just society.
Cc: Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi,
Minister for Human Resource Development
Dr. J. S. Rajput, Director, NCERT
******* This Petition is now closed. ******
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