RSS takes up fight against revision in school syllabus in Rajasthan
The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated education bodies have sought information from the Congress-led Rajasthan government on “downsizing portrayal of right wing leaders” in the state textbooks, alleging that the changes have been made flouting norms.
Through several Right to Information (RTI) applications, the RSS-backed organisations have asked for information about the procedure to set up committees for reviewing the syllabus and whether it was done in a transparent and fair manner.
The Congress in the past had accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of distorting history and saffronisation of school education.
Now, several BJP leaders including former education minister Vasudev Devnani, who was accused of saffronisation of textbooks, have criticised the state government move “to dilute references to right wing ideologues such as VD Savarkar and Deen Dayal Upadhayay”.
A controversy broke out after in drafts of the new textbooks the prefix Veer was removed from Savarkar’s name and he was being referred to as one, who “plotted the assassination” of Mahatma Gandhi, though he was later exonerated by a court, and that he sought clemency from the British government.
The new textbooks do not have chapters on Upadhyay and welfare schemes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Education minister Govind Singh Dotasara has justified the changes saying it was an attempt to correct history “distorted by the Bharatiya Janata Party ” and claimed that “the RSS forced its ideology in the syllabus and glorified people such as Savarkar who made no contribution in the independence struggle.”
Members from the RSS-backed organisations such as Rajasthan Shikshak Sangh (Rashtriya), Rajasthan University and College Teachers’ Association (Rashtriya), Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, Adarsh Vidya Mandir and Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal have filed multiple RTIs with the secretary of the Education Department, the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE), Ajmer and the State Institute of Educational Research and Training (SIERT), Udaipur.
SIERT prepares the school curriculum for classes 1 to 8, while RBSE decides curriculum for classes 9 to12.
The RTI applications have sought information regarding details of all the changes proposed in the school syllabus, details of the subject committees and its members, minutes of the RBSE meeting in which the decision was taken to change the syllabus for the academic year 2019-20 and educational background of the experts.
BL Natiya, national vice president of the Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal, said the RTIs have been filed to find out all the changes proposed in the syllabus. “The government is not sharing any details about the syllabus change. It seems they have not followed the laid down procedures,” he added.
Natiya said, when the previous BJP government made changes in the textbooks, everything was there in black and white. “The changes suggested were backed by academic research and the norms were followed,” he added.
According to former RBSE chairman Vimal Prasad Agarwal, only the education board chairman has authority to set up committee to review the syllabus. “The post of RBSE chairman is vacant as the earlier head has completed his three-year tenure and no new appointment has been made. So, who gave the order to set up the committee?” he asked.
Agarwal said the subject committee decides the syllabus which is then sent to the curriculum committee for approval and making changes, if needed.
It is then sent to the board for approval and then subject authors are asked to write the textbooks.
“If the regulations are followed then it takes about a year to revise the syllabus,” he said.
Nathmal Didel, director, secondary education department, said the expert committee was appointed by the government since there is no chairman appointed to RBSE by the government. “The committee was appointed by the state government to examine and revise the existing textbooks,” said Didel, who also holds additional charge of administrator, Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education. “The changes have been accepted and RBSE has given orders to the Rajasthan State Textbook Board to print the books as per the recommendations of the committee,” he said .
Former president of the Rajasthan Shikshak Sangh (Rashtriya) Prahlad Sharma said they oppose the government’s attempt to politicise education. “There should be no interference of politicians from BJP or Congress in education. They should leave education to educationists,” he said, adding that if the government is found to have flouted norms, the organisation would launch a protest movement.