Government-published books have little on corruption, terrorism

January 29th, 2009 - 12:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) There are no school or college textbooks, at least those published by the government institutions, that explicitly sensitise children on two of India’s burning issues - terrorism and corruption, a reply to a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed.The man who made the query is shocked. A teacher in a government-run school says the textbooks need change, but those who have published the school textbooks say the subjects have been dealt with in a tangential way.

“Terrorism and corruption are the two major problems the country is facing today. I filed an RTI application with the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry to find out what they are doing to sensitise children about these issues,” RTI activist Manish Sisodia told IANS.

He asked the HRD ministry if it has introduced any chapter on the issues of corruption and terrorism in schools or in higher education.

He got a reply from the Department of Higher Education: “The Government of India has introduced no such chapter. The universities have administrative and academic autonomy. They are competent to frame their syllabus and curriculum based on the model curriculum of University Grants Commission (UGC), with suitable modifications considered appropriate by their academic bodies.”

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which prepares school textbooks, replied: “Although the NCERT textbooks based on the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 contain no specific chapter on the issue of corruption, they do highlight the importance of ethics in public life.

“The issue of corruption was dealt with in the context of democratic governance. The textbooks in political science, sociology and economics discuss - using narratives, dialogues and cartoons - the role of citizens in a democracy, the RTI Act, harmful effects of corruption on the society and the ways to combat it.”

Sisodia was clearly dissatisfied. “Our education system is busy creating technology skilled students but have completely ignored the ‘humane’ part of education. Children are the future of country and if they would not sensitise children then who will? Who will teach them about being honest and working for the country?

“Is it not their (the government’s) duty to inculcate belief against these evils amongst the citizens from their school days?

“NCERT provided me copies of some chapters of its books that carry the word ‘corruption’ in the text. Is this all they are doing for sensitising children? Is this a joke? Who will shape the minds of children constructively if the education department is washing their hands off like this?” Sisodia added.

“Why are billions spent over this department which is nothing but a white elephant? It should be closed down if money is being wasted on so many officials.

“The education department should work towards inculcating a belief against these evils amongst the citizens from the time they are students.”

Lokesh Kumar, vice principal at a government-run school in east Delhi, said: “We have specific chapters about disaster mismanagement and how to deal with it. But we don’t have anything specific about terrorism and corruption. There is an urgent need to sensitise students about these issues and for that specific chapters are required.”

Neera Chopra, who is an academic consultant with Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar, said: “It is not a part and parcel of the curriculum. But as a part of school’s education, we discuss these issues while discussing newspaper reports. We also organise discussions with students as and when required.”

“There are no specific chapters but our textbooks have dealt with challenges like terrorism and corruption in an integrated manner,” said an NCERT official who did not want to be identified.

“To get the message across to the learners regarding these issues, the textbooks use cartoons, narrations and case studies. Teachers discuss these subjects while talking to students. It is difficult to have full-length chapters on these issues.”

Sisodia said: “You cannot expect every teacher in every school to take the initiative; all teachers are not the same.”

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