Punjab govt regrets ‘any mistakes’ in books, but denies deletion of chapters on Sikh gurus
While banning the use of “guide books” in government schools, the Congress government in Punjab on Thursday apologised for “any mistakes that may have crept into” the new Class-12 history textbooks of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB). “These will be rectified immediately,” said minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa who, along with cabinet colleagues Manpreet Singh Badal and OP Soni, who is the school education minister, was fielded by the government to reply to the opposition’s charge of deletion of Sikhs history chapters from the new Class-12 book.
The minister made the statement after his attention was drawn towards some mistakes pointed out by a six-member committee set up by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
The three ministers, at the joint press conference, rejected allegations of the SAD and AAP that chapters related to Sikh gurus and their teachers were dropped from history textbooks, accusing the two parties of distorting facts for political benefit. Two experts with the ministers said “bulk of the content has been shifted to Class 11”.
Manpreet further alleged that private publishers are behind “the controversy” because “their business is getting affected due to the books brought out by the board”. “PSEB is an autonomous body and syllabus revision is an academic exercise. Its academic autonomy should be respected. Political concerns should not affect the debate,” he said, rejecting the charge that the Congress government is pursuing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) agenda. Soni said the PSEB has for the first time published history textbooks on its own for senior secondary classes, and use of “guides” of private publishers would be completely banned in government schools in the state.
Manpreet also said the board has involved experts from renowned educational institutions, such as Delhi University, Panjab University and Punjabi University, besides taking an expert suggested by the SGPC on board. “What do those who are nitpicking have to say about schools run by the SGPC and Chief Khalsa Diwan with CBSE affiliation? Why don’t they raise these issues with them too?” he asked.
School education secretary Krishan Kumar said the PSEB would issue corrigendum for any factual or language mistakes in the new books.
Meanwhile, Eklavya Foundation faculty member CN Subramaniam, who was associated with the syllabus and textbook revision in Punjab, said there was a need to look at history textbooks for senior secondary classes (11 and 12) together for “a mix of the world, Indian and the state’s own regional history”.
Subramaniam said the three should be balanced. “There was an issue with the way Punjab history was structured in books in the state. The history of Punjab from stone age to medieval period was ignored with no mention of social, economic and political history of those times,” he told HT over the phone.
The pedagogy and curriculum expert, who is still to receive his printed copies of Class 11 and 12 books, said he had also suggested that Punjab history be placed in Class-11 textbook instead because the children were going to compete at the national level. “At the national level, curriculum is set by the CBSE. It makes more sense to put Indian history, and India and the world, in Class 12,” he said. The foundation has been associated with curriculum development and revision work in NCERT and other states.