On the occasion of Teacher’s Day this year, Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had announced a 25% reduction in the syllabus for schools in Delhi, for classes V to XII. However, now that the list of topics that are proposed to be removed, are announced, the move seems to be under scrutiny. The internal committee of the Directorate of Education — in charge of weeding out these chapters — reasoned that school students may not be able to ‘relate to the text’ and the need for more ‘Indian’ examples is needed, for almost every decision it took.
Here is a list of topics that have been deemed ‘unnecessary’ according to the AAP government, and the school principals have been asked to revert with feedback, following which, the official process of removing the said topics will begin:
- Panchayati Raj Institutions. Reason provided: Panchayati Raj institutions are not related to a city like Delhi and thus school children are unable to comprehend properly.”
- Feudalism. Reason provided: “Content of lesson relates to feudalism, which is not good for social harmony and is inappropriate for the level of school students. The practices mentioned in this lesson are slowly disappearing from the modern society.”
- Participation in Government. Reason provided: “The lesson contains examples from different parts of the world; after reading this lesson students feel that participatory governance is a complete failure in India, which is not true.”
- Maria Sharapova. Reason provided: A dip in her ranking has been cited as a reason, and it suggests a chapter on Sania Mirza as a replacement.
- Gulliver’s Travels. Reason provided: ” School Students may not be able to relate to topical references to 18th century England.” A suggestion to replace the same with a children’s story by an Indian author is also made.
- Socialism in Europe and Russian Revolution. Reason provided: “The topics are far above the level of the learner.”
- The Diary of Anne Frank. Reason provided: “Knowing the culture and history of the times is prerequisite to understanding the details in the text. A mere learning of facts in the History syllabus, which our children read in Hindi, does not suffice. Also, there are explicit references to physical changes in the adolescent body.”
- Evolution of mass movements. Reason provided: “The lesson could make students feel that agitation, anarchy and going against the government are the only means of securing social justice.” This is interesting to note, since, the AAP was a result of a mass movement as well.
- A Long Walk to Freedom. Reason provided: “References given in the text cannot be explained without referring to South African history. Racism and apartheid questions aren’t easily answered by school students. An inordinate length of time is spent in dealing with all references.”
- Nationalism in Indo-China. Reason provided: “Deals with political chronology of a very vast area which is not only difficult for students but also difficult for the teacher to teach. It is also uninteresting, burdensome.”
- The Story of Cricket. Reason provided: “Lesson gives unimportant, exaggerated account of cricket.”
The committee also recommended the removal of certain chapters as they contained ‘repetitive content’ or were ‘uninteresting’, ‘lengthy’, ‘ subtle’, ‘inappropriate’, ‘difficult’ or ‘burdensome’. Some of the other chapters, according to the committee, ‘reflected the country in a negative light’ or did not match the ‘mental level’ of school students.
Though the recommendations are being criticized for being ill-thought of, hasty and oppressive, it remains to be seen how many of these recommendations are actually implemented, and which topics are removed from the syllabus of classes V to VIII. Even more worrisome are the impending recommendations for syllabus of classes IX to XII, which will see a 20% reduction beginning next academic year.