scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Monday, January 24, 2022

CBSE’s response to its own exam question on Gujarat 2002 undermines its integrity and autonomy

By withdrawing a question from a paper, a question about a scar the nation has endured, the CBSE undermines its integrity and autonomy. It must dump its idea of penalising the person/s who set the question paper.

By: Editorial |
Updated: December 3, 2021 7:47:48 am
That would be a disservice to the CBSE, an autonomous body with a sound record in carrying out examinations, and proven expertise in drafting syllabus for schools across the country: NCERT, another autonomous body, mostly provides textbooks.

Questions, even difficult ones, are indispensable to education and learning. That’s why it is disturbing to see the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) twist itself into a spot by first calling a question in its Class XII Term 1 sociology test an error, then apologising for it and, finally, promising “strict action” against those “responsible”.

The multiple-choice question that prompted the CBSE’s unnecessary remorse was: “The unprecedented scale and spread of anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place under which government?” The options for the student to choose were “Congress”, “BJP”, “Democratic” and “Republican”. In a Twitter apology, the CBSE said a question violated guidelines that instruct paper-setters to ensure that “the questions should be academic oriented only and should not touch upon domains that could harm sentiments of people based on social and political choices.” The question has been drawn from a chapter in an NCERT textbook for Class XII, which discussed the “two most traumatic contemporary instances of communal violence” — the Delhi anti-Sikh violence of 1984 under a Congress government at the Centre, and the anti-Muslim violence in 2002 Gujarat under a BJP government headed by then chief minister Narendra Modi. The board’s distinction between academic worth and “sentiments of people” is a specious one. Why is a question about one of the most shameful episodes of communal violence in India out of place in a sociology paper for Class XII students? Would a question about the 1984 violence under Congress been less objectionable? Or is it the case that someone in CBSE felt that its political masters may not be pleased with the question?

That would be a disservice to the CBSE, an autonomous body with a sound record in carrying out examinations, and proven expertise in drafting syllabus for schools across the country: NCERT, another autonomous body, mostly provides textbooks. It stands for a certain standard of academic worth, as a result of which a CBSE accreditation is aspirational for many schools. That reputation comes from keeping a buffer between political sensitivities and its work as a professional body. By withdrawing a question from a paper, a question about a scar the nation has endured, the CBSE undermines its integrity and autonomy. It must dump its idea of penalising the person/s who set the question paper. It also must set a better example for students. They surely know how to take questions in their stride — so must the CBSE. Telling a child that some questions cannot and should not be asked is bad education.

This editorial first appeared in the print edition on December 3, 2021 under the title ‘Bad education’.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
0 Comment(s) *
* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by indianexpress.com.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement