A new syllabus for English literature for school students in Britain has raised a storm due its exclusion of classics by American and other foreign writers, and inclusion of ‘modern works from Britain’ that include Meera Syal’s Anita and Me.
The syllabus, to be taught to students at GCSE level (equivalent to India’s 10th standard), is part of the David Cameron government’s controversial education reforms, which includes removing the category ‘prose from different cultures’ in English literature syllabus.
Prominent works excluded under the new syllabus are I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Of Mice and Men by John Steinback and To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. Books axed include those by writers from Australia, New Zealand and Nigeria.
Books by British authors on the new syllabus includes Anita and Me, the debut novel (1996) by noted Indian-origin actor and writer Meera Syal, which was made into a film in 2001. It also includes Never Let Me Go, the science fiction novel by the Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro.
Protests over the reforms include a petition, signed by more than 50,000 people, asking Education secretary Michael Gove to reconsider the changes.
GCSEs in England must include at least one Shakespeare play, a 19th century novel, a selection of poetry from 1789 onwards, including the Romantic poets, and British fiction or drama from 1914 onwards.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We have not banned any authors, books or genres…GCSE specifications are only a starting point. The new GCSEs in English Literature will be broader and more challenging for pupils than those available at the moment”.