The Mamata Banerjee government has found a new space and a new audience for its political philosophy: textbooks for 5 to 10-year olds.
“Our chief minister and the education department pledges (sic) to educate every single child in our state,” declares a note inserted in books meant for classes I, III and V by state education minister Bratya Basu. A reproduction of his official letterhead, the note is duly accompanied by Basu’s photograph.
Unveiled on the Teachers’ Day by the CM, the books had drawn substantial attention by Thursday, and criticism came pouring. “It is a trend with this government to publish big pictures of ministers everywhere. So far it was only the CM, but now others are catching up,” said Sunanda Sanyal, former chairman of the syllabus committee.
“These books are for school children and this is no place for ministers to vent their philosophy or ideas,” said former education minister Kanti Biswas. Basu told HT, “I had no knowledge about the letter...I have asked it to be dropped.”
Syllabus committee chairman Avik Majumdar said, “The minister wanted to convey his ideas.” But, in the evening he said the note was meant only for sample books. Education department sources said 44 lakh books had been printed.