In a first, students enrolled in Delhi government schools will learn about patriotism through the recently developed ‘Deshbhakti’ (patriotism) curriculum. The curriculum was announced last year but the plan could not move ahead amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
Recently, the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), Delhi, adopted the curriculum, which is ready to be rolled out in schools as soon as they reopen.
The principal of a senior secondary school in South Delhi, who was also a part of the curriculum committee, told indianexpress.com that students will not be assessed and will not have to undergo any formal examination.
“The aim of the curriculum is to inculcate basic constitutional values in students. The decision to not have any examinations is directly related to tackling rote learning. Having a sense of pride for the nation cannot be instilled through an examination or memorising answers. Hence, it is crucial to follow self-assessment,” the principal said.
A senior government official, on condition of anonymity, said the curriculum is a broad set of studies as ‘deshbhakti’ cannot be confined to a fixed syllabus. It has been weaved into stories and observations focussing on self-introspection that would help students develop respect for the country, identify its strengths and challenges and reflect on what each student can contribute to India’s progress.
From the freedom movement to fundamental rights and duties, the curriculum aims to cover all aspects of civic behaviour that students must follow to become ideal citizens.
“The curriculum is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The major focus is to make students responsible citizens who contribute to nation-building and have pride in their country. The curriculum aims to ensure that the students are aware of their responsibilities towards the country and develop an appreciation for constitutional values, fundamental rights and imbibe the responsibility of being an Indian and are ready to sacrifice for the country,” the official added.
While the innovative curriculum is welcome, the academics are divided over the need for a separate curriculum to instil patriotism in students.
“The NCERT school books cover all the required components of patriotism across various subjects. For example, students are taught about rights and duties as a part of social science, environmental studies (EVS) cover one’s duties towards nature and surroundings. The pride for the nation needs to be developed through regular studies and it is not necessary to have a separate curriculum,” said A N Ramachandra, Joint Commissioner (Academics), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS).
He added, the commitment towards the national cause has not changed but the interpretation of patriotism is changing. “If students are following social rules, law and order, are aware of the national causes and commitments, then there is no need to have these lessons transacted in classrooms,” Ramachandra said.
On the other hand, C B Sharma, former chairman of the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), strongly agreed in favour of having a separate curriculum. “The purpose of quality education is to make students global citizens and also serve the nation. Nowadays, students migrate to developed countries in the West after completing their schooling in India, it has become the new motto. But that is not the objective of public education. Having such a curriculum will help us tackle brain drain,” he said.
He added that many nations, such as South Korea and the United Kingdom, have been able to retain students in the country by having such a curriculum or mandatory military tenure for students. Singapore has a policy of waiving off tuition fees of meritorious Indian students if they work there for twice the duration of their course.
“We should not look at patriotism or nationalism through a myopic lens. The curriculum will help students become self-sustainable as they will be more concerned with collective good than personal good,” he added.