Revision: Significant & Systemic
“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Jimi Hendrix.
Curriculum or academic syllabus at educational institutions had been radically revised in Italy during Benito Mussolini‘s reign (from 1923 to 1943). The main aim of that move was to prove the superiority of Italy, geographically, historically and linguistically, through the curriculum. Prior to the Gentile Reform of 1923, learning in other European languages, such as French, German or the ancient Latin language, was widespread at various schools in the south-western European country. However, the New Education Policy made it compulsory for students to study only in Italian. The new syllabus did not allow students to know how the geographical border of Italy was recognised by the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War. It also excluded the historical explanation of the demarcation. Instead, attempts have been made in textbooks to refer to parts of Italy, which could have been parts of Roman Civilisation or the ancient Italian Kingdom in the past, as integral parts of the country.
The Third Reich was formed in neighbouring Germany in 1933. It was such a system of governance in which the State could interfere in almost all the aspects of social life. Education was not an exception to this. As expected, the rulers of Nazi Germany changed the curriculum, omitting Religious Education and study of foreign languages, like English, French, Latin etc., and grammar. Only History, Racial Science and some other subjects found their places in the new curriculum. Five hours of physical activity per day was made mandatory for students. The Government printed new textbooks in which the native borders, the previous Prussian rule and its long history were not mentioned. Students were advised to learn the Lebensraum Policy and the importance of aggression. It may be noted that the German concept of Lebensraum comprises policies and practices of settler colonialism which proliferated in Germany from the 1890s to the 1940s. Similarly, the concept of Eugenics was included in Biology syllabus. The Nazi Germany adopted the Education Policy in 1939 by gradually changing the previous syllabus since 1933.
Nearly eight decades later, India has decided to change the school syllabus. According to sources close to the Government of India, several parts of History and Political Science would be left out of the curriculum. Although the Government has claimed that it wants to reduce the burden of the syllabus, the educationalists have expressed serious concern over the proposed move, saying that the Government actually wants to distort Indian History.
Reports suggest that the Mughal Era is about to be dropped from the History curriculum. It means that school students no longer have to read the history of this three-century-long empire, founded in 1526, and contemporary India. One can easily understand why the Government has decided to change the curriculum, keeping in mind the statements issued by the Government in recent times. Showcasing the history of India from Hindu and Vedic angles can only be possible by erasing the history of the Mughal Empire. The Government of India is well aware of the fact that it is difficult to underestimate the economic policies of the Mughal emperors, and to term the good governance of Mughal Emperor Akbar as oppressive. Hence, the Government plans to erase the history of more than three centuries (from 1526 to 1857).
The history of the Cold War shall also be dropped from the syllabus. When it comes to the Cold War, India’s policy of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) will also come up, along with the role of first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in this movement. However, the current Government in New Delhi, seemingly, does not want to acknowledge Nehru‘s achievements.
Similarly, the Government has planned to remove important issues, like citizenship, democracy and diversity, from the Political Science curriculum. Hence, the students shall have no idea about the main conditions of citizenship, conditions of democracy, violations of the Constitution, and also about the Government’s duty to protect the diversity of people of different castes and religions in India. Knowledge about all these may prompt students to question the immorality of the ruling class.
Previous Governments also changed the Education Policy in India in the past. Various changes are still being made in the school syllabus at provincial level. However, the proposed move of the current Government of India is quite different and unprecedented, as its impact on students shall be dangerous in the long-term.
Perhaps, this is the right time for the conscientious people to raise their voice and to stop the Government from hegemonising the children.
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