GUWAHATI, April 2 – Participants at a recent discussion on common curriculum here expressed their dismay over the decision of the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) to introduce the CBSE syllabus and textbooks from 2010 without the common curriculum.
They observed that the decision of the AHSEC to introduce National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) books at elementary level and translate them into local languages without any modification to include local environment, culture, value system and ethos, is despicable. This decision is fraught with the danger of affecting the knowledge-base of the State’s children on their own environment, culture etc.
The participants at the session, organised by the Retired Teachers’ Forum of Cotton College, discussed in detail the decision of the Assam Government to adopt the syllabus and textbooks of the NCERT and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) from class I to XII.
The participants, who included around 50 educationists, observed that the above decision of the AHSEC was without justification since the proposed common curriculum is sought to be made effective from 2011 for the entire country. After the introduction of the common curriculum, the AHSEC will have to revise the syllabus, observed the participants.
They also observed that there is a difference between adopting syllabus and the books. The translation of books involves certain restrictions, which does not permit any single modification. Literal translation of any book often keeps many gaps in understanding and therefore, is not an appropriate option. The decision of the AHSEC to go for exact translation, therefore, has no merit, they observed.
The children of the State would not learn anything about their own state, its environment and the culture of its people from such an exercise. From their childhood, they will be introduced to certain tradition, certain names and certain cultures which are alien to them. This move is hence fraught with the danger of unipolarisation in a country which boasts of multi-culture and multi-ethnicity as the source of the strength of its democracy.
The decision of the State Government to switch over to NCERT courses and textbooks has probably been taken without much thinking and without considering their future consequences, the educationists observed. Moreover, they pointed to the fact that the modifications like incorporating the information on the local flora and fauna, the leading personalities of the State, local lifestyles etc, are not allowed by the NCERT.
The overall view of the participants was that there is a tendency to centralize the education system gradually and to reduce the power of the states in matters of education. The State Government therefore, needs serious introspection in this matter and try to initiate serious dialogue with academics, civil society and other stakeholders.
Such efforts should lead to a consensus in keeping with the need of upgradation of curriculum in one hand and the necessity of providing the children at least the elementary level of flavour of the local environment, culture, lifestyle, value system etc with which they are associated from their birth on the other, the participants observed.
Many educationists of repute like Prof Dulal Gowami, Prof Tabu Taid, Prof Tarakeswar Choudhury, Prof Buddha Chetia, Prof Dilip Barua, Dr Nandita Bhattacharjee, Dr Sopon Duorah, Dr Sunil Pawan Baruah, among others, took part in the discussion. Prof Hiren Gohain and Prof Md Taher sent their views in writing and these were read out by the organisers in the function. The discussion was initiated by Prof Ranjit Bhattacharjee.