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Revising school syllabi: Maria Sharapova, Gulliver’s Travels, history of mass movements on Delhi govt’s delete list

To keep its promise of reducing up to 25 per cent syllabus in classes VI to X, the Delhi education department has been zeroing in on chapters in text books which, according to it, can be removed.

Written by Shikha Sharma | New Delhi |
September 13, 2015 2:16:00 am

Gulliver’s Travels and The Diary of Anne Frank may have delighted generations of readers but, according to the Delhi government, the content of these literary classics is not suitable for school students.

To keep its promise of reducing up to 25 per cent syllabus in classes VI to X, the Delhi education department has been zeroing in on chapters in text books which, according to it, can be removed. The internal committee of the Directorate of Education — in charge of weeding out these chapters — seems to believe that students may not be able to ‘relate to the text’ in a number of cases, and a more Indian example was needed.


So the committee wants Gulliver’s Travels to be replaced with a children’s story by an Indian author as students may not be able to relate to ‘topical references to 18th century England’. It has also recommended that — in a chapter on achievers — tennis star Sania Mirza should replace Maria Sharapova.

The committee has also found a chapter on ‘socialism in Europe and Russian revolution’ to be ‘far above the level of the learner’ and recommended its removal.

It has also raised objections to The Diary of Anne Frank as the book allegedly contains “too explicit references to physical changes in the adolescent body”, among other reasons.

Interestingly, the government run by AAP — a party which came to the forefront due to its agitational politics — has objected to a lesson on jansangharsh ka andolan (evolution of mass movements). The lesson could make students feel that ‘agitation, anarchy and going against the government are the only means of securing social justice’, stated the committee.

It also wants lessons on democracy, participation in governance, challenges in a democracy and functioning of institutions to be removed. The committee has claimed that a lesson on federalism only ‘details shortcomings in Indian federalism’, the lesson on ‘democratic governments’ depicts ‘problems rather than solutions’ and the one on diversity only ‘brings out the negative aspects of diversity’.

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 the students.

The committee has now posted its syllabus online to seek feedback from principals of various schools across Delhi. Their responses will be analysed by another committee before the implementation of the new syllabus, said senior officials.

School authorities have also been asked to arrange faculty meetings to discuss the proposed changes and submit their responses by September 16.

Lessons that are not needed, according to govt

* ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’
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.

* ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’
References given in the text cannot be explained without referring to South African history. Racism and apartheid questions aren’t easily answered by students. An inordinate length of time is spent in dealing with all references.

* Nationalism in Indo-China
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
Lesson gives unimportant, exaggerated account of cricket.

* Participation in Governance
Students may feel that participatory governance is a complete failure in India, which is not true.

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