The Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh issued an order on Friday to include yoga as part of the curriculum in government schools across the state from the new academic session.
On Tuesday, Adityanath directed officials to ensure that “compulsory” yoga education programmes start at all state government schools while chairing a meeting of education department officials.
Deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma said students of Class 5 to 12 will learn the ancient Indian exercise as part of physical education in their schools.
He had announced that yoga will be included as part of school curriculum at the inauguration of Yoga Mahotsav at Indira Gandhi Pratishthan in Lucknow on March 29.
“I issued the directive to include yoga under physical education in all the schools from the new session three days ago, but the order has been formally issued by the principal secretary today (Friday),” Sharma, who is also minister for secondary education, told Hindustan Times.
“However, no one will be forced to do any asanas (postures) like Surya Namaskar. Anyone who wants to join yoga will be welcomed,” he added.
Plans to introduce yoga in schools earlier had faced opposition by some Muslim organisations who said it is essentially a Hindu religious practise and that chanting “Om” or performing the Surya Namaskar is against Islam.
Sharma said yoga should not be branded as communal and added that “it is a way of life”.
“It will benefit the students in handling day-to-day stress, besides making them physically strong. Even the Islamic countries celebrate World Yoga Day on June 21. We are trying to improve the quality of education and this is a step in that direction,” he said.
Sharma was referring to the annual International Day of Yoga that Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed to be celebrated worldwide soon after winning power in 2014.
“We have fulfilled the promise of including yoga in the curriculum. Sanskrit board will be constituted too,” Sharma, who had also promised that a separate board to promote Sanskrit education would be set up in the state, said.
The minister added the process to form a panel for Board of Sanskrit Secondary Education was on and that the board will affiliate, conduct examinations and make available grant-in-aid to the schools following its curriculum.
It will be the first of its kind in the country.
“The state already has a Sanskrit Board but it is more or less defunct. Only a handful of officials are running it, but now I will appoint some noted Sanskrit scholars, intellectuals, professors and writers to upgrade it,” he said.
Ramdev’s Patanjali Vidyapeeth had organised the Yoga Mahotsav in March and the yoga guru had requested the state government to establish a Sanskrit university in Uttar Pradesh and improve the condition of Sanskrit schools. He had also demanded the inclusion of yoga in schools.