Jharkhand will include lessons on communal harmony highlighting symbiosis between different communities in government school textbooks for classes 3 to 8 from the academic year 2017 in a bid to foster love and brotherhood among children of different societies.
The new lessons which will be part of moral science are expected to bridge communal barriers among children and instill respect in them for their classmates who belong to other communities, officials from the state school education and literacy department said.
“The lessons will help the students know about the strength of communal unity and the drawbacks of disharmony between different communities. They will also teach the children about how different communities in India are inter-dependent on each other and should live peacefully together,” said state school education and literacy secretary Aradhana Patnaik.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2014, Jharkhand witnessed 349 incidents of communal flare ups in 2013 – the highest in the country, followed by Haryana with 207 incidents, and Tamil Nadu with 120.
Communal incidents have been on the rise in Jharkhand for the past couple of years, seriously challenging the government’s initiatives of maintaining peace during festivals.
In April this year, a curfew was imposed in Hazaribagh after communal clashes during Ramnavami. Jharkhand also simmered with tension in October 2015 as communal clashes in four districts - Hazaribagh, Bokaro, Daltonganj, Latehar left one person dead and several others injured.
“Children are the future of Jharkhand, and if they know the importance of maintaining communal harmony at this tender age, they would grow up and advocate peace in the society,” said Shahid Akhtar, national convener of Muslim Rashtriya Manch.
Akhtar, a former chairperson of Jharkhand’s minority commission, added that the lessons should also inculcate the feeling of common aim of service towards nation among the children.
“The chapters should teach that the country is above all religion, caste and creed,” he said.
The books, which would also include fictional stories and references from India’s history, would be published by the Jharkhand Council for Educational Research and Training (JCERT), said Patnaik.
The stories, however, would not be directly related to any particular religion, but encourage brotherhood between different religious groups, a JCERT official said. They would carry stories about Muslims helping Hindus during festivals and vice versa, he said.
There are around 40,000 government schools in Jharkhand and over 52 lakh children study in these schools. The special lessons are expected to benefit at least 30 lakh students.