[Sansad TV] Reforms in Content and School Text Books


  • The Parliamentary Committee on Education has suggested in its report that textbooks should inculcate constitutional values ​​in children and promote national integration.
  • The committee believes that books should be free from prejudice.
  • This report has been presented in the Parliament on 19 December 2022.

Key observations and recommendations of the Committee include:

(1) Quality of textbooks

  • Multidisciplinary approach: The Committee recommended that while creating content for textbooks, inputs by experts from multiple disciplines should be sought.  
  • Imbibe pedagogy: Further, mandatory standards for content, graphics and layout, and pedagogical approaches should be developed.
  • Interactive learning: The Committee noted the need to have more child-friendly textbooks.  It recommended the use of pictures, graphics, and audio-visual material.  
  • Local language curriculum: The Committee recommended that textbooks should be published in all the languages mentioned in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.  Further, efforts should be made to develop textbooks in local languages. 

(2) Updating syllabus

  • Internal committee to review: The Committee recommended to set up an internal committee to examine suggestions received from teachers, students, and institutions for updating syllabus of NCERT textbooks.  
  • Nationwide common syllabus: Further, it recommended the Ministry to explore the possibility to develop a core class-wise common syllabus for various subjects for implementation.  
  • Reducing number of textbooks: Ex. Maharashtra’s Ekatmik Pathya Pustak- a single book for several subjects for class one students in order to lighten the school bag. The Committee recommended that other states should also follow a similar approach.  

(3) Representation of women in textbooks

  • No stereotyping: Women are underrepresented in school textbooks and are depicted in traditional and voluntary roles.  
  • Recognition of women’s contribution: NCERT should undertake efforts to (i) make textbooks gender inclusive, (ii) portray women in emerging professions, and (iii) adequately represent role of women in the Indian freedom movement.  

(4) Depiction of history

  • No distortions: The Committee noted that many historical figures and freedom fighters in history textbooks have been portrayed in an incorrect manner as offenders.  
  • No undue dynastic glorification: Further, it noted that there is unequal representation of various periods and dynasties in history textbooks.  
  • Focus on national issues: Ideas of ‘national history’, or conflating the ancient and medieval periods of Indian history as indigenous and foreign respectively, are some examples of this.
  • Focus on nation-building aspects: The Committee recommended: (i) updating history textbooks to include certain details (such as post 1947 history and world history), (ii) reviewing depiction of freedom fighters from various regions and communities.

(5) Others

  • Information on drug and internet addiction: The Committee noted that drug addiction is cutting across class divide and has adverse effects on the socio-economic structure of the country.  
  • Higher ethical standards: via character-building and good citizenship values.

Broader Issue: Attempts to re-write History

  • The Home Minister has pitched for decolonizing history textbooks of India.
  • Why did he say this? Here is the answer-

Disproportionate allocation of spaces in history: It is observed that school textbooks (at present) do not give adequate coverage to some of the great Indian empires like that of Cholas, Chalukyas, Vijayanagar, Gondwana or that of Travancore and Ahoms of the northeastern region but glorifies Mughal history.

Glorification of selective leaders and events: Leaders like Motilal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu and Abul Kalam Azad find elaborate mentions — and nothing objectionable about that — other great leaders like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Gopinath Bordoloi or revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh are either ignored or at times are mentioned as offenders.

Depiction of Women: Notable women in all fields, and their contributions, like that of Ahilyabai Holkar, Abala Bose, Anandi Gopal Joshi, Rani Ma Gaidinliu, Captain Prem Mathur, Cornelia Sorabji, Durgavati Devi, Janaki Ammal, Mahasweta Devi, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Kittur Chennamma, Savitribai Phule and many others have not found adequate mention in NCERT textbooks.

Way forward

  • School textbooks need to reflect historical scholarship that is methodologically rigorous and based on primary research, while also keeping in mind pedagogical considerations.
  • There is a constant need to question, revisit and revise our understanding of the past through rigorous examination of historical and archaeological sources.
  • Equally important for us is to be cautious about the use of present-day ideas to construct and bolster history and historical consciousness.
  • School textbooks need to reflect historical scholarship that is methodologically rigorous and based on primary research, while also keeping in mind pedagogical considerations.

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