Learning to be kind to animals will be part of the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) curriculum from the next academic year.
The board has asked its schools to integrate an internationally-recognised humane education course created by the group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) into their syllabus.
The board’s notification endorses the use of PETA’s “Compassionate Citizen” course in the official school curriculum of children between the ages of 8 to 12 years.
Designed to help students develop respect and compassion for animals, the programme will include information on how to be sensitive to animals’ rights and needs.
“The programme offers tools and lesson plans to teach children to view animals as feeling, sensitive beings... [it] can also be used with other age groups and in languages, science, social studies, environmental and values education curricula,” the CBSE notification states.
Schools have also been asked to inculcate it in their eco clubs: groups created to encourage students’ interest in nature.
City schools feel this will make students socially aware and responsible. “Children love animals. Sometimes they emulate the behaviour of grown-ups and treat them cruelly. This programme could teach them appreciation and empathy towards animals,” said Deepshikha Shrivastava, principal of Rajhans Public School, Andheri.
Already over 1.4 million children in more 7,000 private and government schools throughout India, including the Doon School in Dehradun, the Delhi Public School, and Jamnabai Narsee, Lilavatibai Podar and Ryan Global schools in Mumbai have implemented the programme.
“It helps build the emotional quotient of the children as they learn to care for animals. Our programme to sensitise our students on rehabilitation of stray animals was well-received,” said Nureen Fernandes, principal of Lilavatibai Podar, Santacruz.