In Gujarat, learn history from Hindi films and English with ‘Karsanbhai’

New school textbooks introduced in current academic session under revised curriculum.

Written by RITU SHARMA | Ahmedabad | Published:July 23, 2015 3:19 am

How does a student learn about Lord Dalhousie and the events that led to the 1857 uprising? Watch patriotic Bollywood films, suggests the Class VIII social science textbook introduced by the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks.

And the best way to learn spoken English? The teachers’ navigator book for Class III features the popular rhyme “Old MacDonald had a farm”, but with a difference. It replaces MacDonald with Karsanbhai, so the rhyme becomes “Karsanbhai has a farm…”.

The textbooks have been introduced in the current academic session, that began in June, under a revised curriculum recently drawn up by the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT).

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In the history textbook, the chapter ‘How the traders became rulers’ (referring to the British) has a section on Lord Dalhousie’s Subsidiary Alliance and annexation policies. It says, “You must have seen Kranti and Mangal Pandey. If you have not seen then try and see these movies. At this time, the people were suppressed under the dictatorial regime of the British….. The reforms made by Dalhousie added fuel to fire….. The dissatisfaction of people had reached a point of saturation and they were in the state of rebellion which resulted in the freedom movement of 1857.”

Kranti is a 1981 multi-starrer by actor-director Manoj Kumar, in which a working man takes up arms and leads the fight for independence from the British; and Mangal Pandey is the more recent Ketan Mehta-directed film on the events of 1857. Aamir Khan plays Mangal Pandey, who leads an uprising against the British.

The same textbook describes Greenpeace as an “institution”, despite the crackdown on the international NGO by the Centre under the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act.

A chapter on ‘Environmental Changes’, discussing global warming and its impact on Gujarat, says, “According to an institution named ‘Greenpeace’ approximately 55 lakh people living in Gujarat will have to migrate in the year 2100 CE.”

In September 2014, the state education department acted upon the ‘need to improve the standard’ of English in government schools. Thus the language was introduced in Class III as against the earlier practice of teaching the subject in Classes V and VI. The stress is on spoken English rather than writing and grammar, therefore only teacher’s navigator books have been introduced while students have not been prescribed textbooks. For example, the rhyme “Karsanbhai has a farm” has been incorporated as one of the “activities” for children to learn “English expressions”, says the teachers’ navigator book for English language for Class III.

The Class VI science textbook discusses the popular story behind the discovery of the magnet by Greek shepherd Magnes, with an illustration that shows Magnes dressed as a Gujarati shepherd (bharwad) in a white coatee and churidar with a turban on his head.

The GCERT has also brought in changes to do away with references to caste, religion, profession and surnames, officials said. To propagate equality and inculcate environment consciousness and gender-sensitivity among children, implied messages portraying animals, plants, females or a particular profession in a derogatory form have been removed, the officials added.

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