Will the recent modification of the CBSE syllabus for Stds. XI and XII affect the quality of education?
Recently, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced the rationalisation of the classes XI and XII syllabus by 30% for the academic year 2020-2021. This was due to the shorter academic season and loss of instructional hours caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision to drop certain chapters in each course has been welcomed by some and criticised by others. Many think the move reduces the course load on students and frees them from stress. Some are sceptical because they think that the reduction will affect students who prepare for competitive exams such as NEET and JEE. Some of those opposing the move feel that certain chapters removed from the Stds. IX and X Social Science syllabus are essential for students to understand society and that this deletion will impact them negatively.
The deleted portions include chapters on population, democratic rights, food security in India, everyday life, culture and politics, print culture and the modern world, forest and wildlife, democracy and diversity, gender, religion and caste, popular struggles and movements, and challenges to democracy.
The deleted topics in the Stds. XI and XII Political Science course include federalism, citizenship, nationalism, secularism, social movements in India, planning commission and five-year plans, and India’s relations with its neighbours.
Looking at the deletions makes one ask: Why were these chapters/topics removed? Is it a democratic decision? Is it a productive ‘curriculum rationalisation exercise’ as claimed by the CBSE? How important are these topics? What impact will the scrapping of these chapters from the syllabus have on education? What is the purpose of education?
About a year ago, the CBSE was severely criticised by academicians for its decision to scrap the chapters on ‘Democracy and Diversity’, ‘Popular Struggles and Movements’ and ‘Challenges to Democracy’ from the Std. X Social Science syllabus for the academic year 2019-2020 in the name of ‘curriculum rationalisation’.
The opposition forced it to clarify later that “no chapters have been deleted from the syllabus of Social Science class X by the Board. All the chapters will be studied by the class X students in due course of time and also evaluated.”
It seems that the government is allergic to the terms democracy, diversity, popular movements, and does not want students to know, study and discuss these vital topics.
The purpose of education is to create well-informed citizens who know how a society functions, what values are important in a democratic society, how in the past people struggled to protect their rights, how they formed popular movements and tried to overcome challenges to democracy, and so on. With this knowledge, they learn how to take part in discussions and make informed decisions. It is important for students to reflect on concepts such as equality, justice, tolerance, inclusion, and human rights and In a multicultural, multi-religious, and multilingual society like ours, it is imperative for teachers to discuss topics such as democracy, diversity, popular struggles and movements, citizenship, secularism, and human rights with the students. Students need to have informed views in order to function effectively as responsible citizens.
As the topics deleted form the core of Social Science and Political Science courses, it is not a wise decision on the part of the government to have removed such vital chapters from the syllabuses.
Syllabuses and curriculum should be designed and, if necessary, modified by experts in various fields and educationists without political interference. The HRD ministry should be interested in improving the quality of education in the country and the government should be interested in creating informed citizens. A country with informed citizens will progress in all aspects.
The writer is an academic, columnist and teacher educator. email@example.com