Panel finds 50 errors,wants NCERT to rewrite books

The forum has pointed out 50 instances across NCERT textbooks where the information provided was either too old and factually incorrect or inappropriate.

Written by Anubhuti Vishnoi | New Delhi | Published:May 21, 2012 3:35 am

Pointing out nearly 50 errors or inappropriate information in school textbooks,a parliamentary forum has written to the National Council of Educational Research and Training slamming it for books which are “full of factual and spelling errors and outdated information”. It has asked the NCERT to “urgently carry out a complete rewrite of books” and “review the whole panel of authors/ writers and their abilities to produce the quality content”.

The forum has pointed out 50 instances across NCERT textbooks where the information provided was either too old and factually incorrect or inappropriate. This list was shot off to NCERT after a meeting held on March 27.

Headed by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar,the forum has Naveen Jindal as the convenor. Harsimrat Kaur Badal,who had recently raised the issue of political cartoons in NCERT books,is also a member. It is the factual errors in NCERT textbooks and not the cartoons that first attracted the attention of the Parliamentary Forum on Children,Jindal confirmed. Interestingly,the forum has said that NCERT’s autonomy must not be infringed upon.

“While most of the information in NCERT textbooks is correct — these books are even used by those who prepare for civil service exams — there are some glaring errors. We pointed it out to NCERT which has accepted most of the points we have raised and will update the textbooks with correct data,” said Jindal.

The forum has written to the NCERT that its Class X book on Contemporary India failed to mention sources of data and pictures used,there were discrepancies in data on India’s annual rate of growth of population and human development index within a single book,and that texts were using old names for cities and towns that have been renamed.

While the NCERT has largely agreed with the forum’s suggestions,correcting mistakes and updating data in most cases,there are a few instances where they have dug in their heels. While the forum objected to the usage of the word ‘Dalit’ in Social Science books,the NCERT has defended the usage arguing that ‘Dalit’ “has been used in a specific political context”. They have added that “it is to be retained in the textbooks as decided by the textbook development committees”.

In case of Hindi Vitan-I book,the forum has objected to the language used in the translation of Baby Haldar’s story — Aalo Andhari — and said that words used by the translator were “not up to the mark” and instead some “decent words or some common language should have been used”. The NCERT has resisted this saying that exchanging of words would change the mood of the story.

The Parliamentary Forum has also objected to the usage of the term mentally challenged/retardation in Psychology textbooks. The NCERT has said it will replace the term with “intellectual disability”.

CARTOON CONTROVERSY: what young turks say

Supriya Sule: Minister Kapil Sibal has taken action on the issue,appointed a committee,replied on it,and even those associated with the textbooks have resigned,so the controversy is over. This is a democracy and people are free to air their views. If something like this is there in a Reader’s Digest,it’s perfectly fine but if something is a bit objectionable in the curriculum then it’s another thing altogether.

Naveen Jindal: Cartoons in newspapers stay with you for a day or so but in children’s textbooks,it’s quite another thing. Children can get a wrong message… nothing good is written about politicians in textbooks,like they have not contributed to the country in any way. And why are there no cartoons on Mahatma Gandhi,Subhas Chandra Bose or Bhagat Singh? Why is it only Nehru,Indira Gandhi,Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Rajiv Gandhi? At the Parliamentary Forum,we decided we would call in child psychologists and experts to discuss the impact of such cartoons on children. However,once the issue came up in Parliament and the HRD minister set up a committee,the forum dropped it.

Hamdullah Sayeed: I have not seen these cartoons… while cartoon can be there in textbooks,they should not in any way be offensive to any particular community or set of people.

Manicka Tagore: Cartoons are not the real world — they depict something. So one should not get carried away by them. For instance,there is so much being written about match fixing in the IPL,but does it mean people will stop watching cricket or hate cricketers? We should worry more about why everyone views politicians in such a negative light,and why the level of public trust is so low as far as politicians are concerned. This is my individual view. I abide by party views and the government’s response to the situation.

Sachin Pilot: I am part of the government,so I’d rather not comment on the issue.

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