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Friday, December 03, 2021

From dowry to killing: The shocking oversights in Indian school textbooks

Even a line drawing of a dead kitten is present, which makes you wonder who drew it and who let that pass into print, uncensored?

Written by Nandini Rathi | New Delhi |
Updated: February 8, 2017 1:30:24 am
school textbook, textbook experiment to kill cat, textbook experiment teach kids to kill cat, class 4 environment studies textbook, textbook 4 grade experiment kill kitten, education news, indian science textbook primary school, latest news, indian express The class IV textbook, innocuously called “Our Green World”, tries to teach that air is needed for living things to breathe and survive through an absurd experiment.  A twitter user posted the pictures of this shocking passage. (Source: Lola Kuttiamma/ Twitter)

It is sad that lately we keep discovering cruel and regressive messages in the material meant to shape the young generation into kind, responsible and respectful human beings. Recently a Class XII Social Science textbook, published and circulated by the Maharashtra State Board authority, validated a social ill and a disgusting label unashamedly by stating that a man’s family may demand high dowry, particularly when the girl is “ugly” or “handicapped”. If that wasn’t bad enough – a new shocker aimed at children just surfaced.

A throwback to the faint memories of primary school days is a usually a nostalgia of envy from our little selves who were just beginning to grasp the basic concepts about the world around us. Those exploratory activities and experiments within books taught us about about the chlorophyll pigment in leaves and encouraged us to observe the lives of numerous living creatures in our environment. An environmental science textbook for a fourth-grade curriculum in a well-known school in Delhi, however, was recently found to have a baffling, cruel experiment planted in to ‘teach’ students that all living creatures need air to breathe.

The textbook reads, “no living thing can live without air for more than a few minutes”. And to explain this with an actual experiment the book suggests, “You can do an experiment” and asks the young students to put a small kitten each in two separate wooden boxes and close the lids, one with holes and one without. The obvious outcome of the cruel experiment states that “the kitten inside the box without holes has died”. One really wonders if this unthinkable act of animal cruelty, which actually results in the death of an innocent baby animal, is suggested for real to kids with impressionable minds?

Even a line drawing of a dead kitten has been provided, which makes you wonder who drew it and who let that pass into print, uncensored? And all this is in the book called “Our Green World” – which supposedly should be teaching about conservation and living with harmony with nature and the other forms of life present in the human habitat. Instead, it makes a mockery of the same by asking a little child to treat animals as pure expendable material in the name of scientific curiosity. That’s chilling because such ideas could only qualify as building blocks for those notorious ‘doctor-scientists’ of Nazi Germany who were commissioned to ‘experiment’ on captive Jewish subjects.

Even by accident and even for an adult – killing an innocent animal would be a scarring incident on the conscience. To propose that by design is a grotesque oversight on the part of the publishers Millennium Booksource Pvt. Ltd. and careless on the part of the school that did not bother to screen their curated textbooks.

People tasked with the responsibility to educate really need to be proactive about weeding out such utterly inexcusable follies.

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