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Education

Teachers' Forum Dismayed At NCERT's Decision to Cut Chapters About Climate Change

Teachers Against the Climate Crisis said while it appreciates the need to cut the students' workload due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the content removed neither overlaps with similar material nor is irrelevant.

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New Delhi: A forum of teachers has expressed dismay at the NCERT’s decision to cut crucial chapters on climate change in several textbooks, saying different facets of the crisis need to be taught to all senior school students.

In a statement, Teachers Against the Climate Crisis (TACC) said the forum appreciates that the COVID-19 pandemic “has resulted in a massive disruption to regular learning schedules all over the country” and that there is a need to cut students’ workload by culling material that overlaps with similar material or is “irrelevant in the present context.”

But the chapters that have been cut – an entire chapter on the Greenhouse Effect from the Class 11 Geography syllabus, an entire chapter on Weather, Climate, Weather Systems and Water from the Class 7 syllabus, and information about the Indian Monsoon from the Class 9 syllabus – deal with “fundamental issues”, the statement said.

It is extremely important that senior school students all over India are conveyed the essence of updated information about climate change in an accessible, easy-to-understand manner, TACC said.

TACC is a non-funded, non-party organisation that “seeks to promote understanding and engagement about different aspects of the climate crisis among students and teachers”. It has members in different universities and research institutions in the country.

The forum also expressed concern that information about popular people’s movements such as the Chipko movement or the Narmada Bachao Andolan has been cut as part of the “Popular Struggles and Movements” lesson out of the “Democratic Politics” syllabus.

“We hence urge the NCERT to rethink its deletions from the school environmental syllabi, and demand that they be reinstated. We also urge that different facets of the climate crisis be taught to all senior school students, in multiple languages, and in varied disciplines, as it intersects with so many,” the statement said.

TACC’s full statement is reproduced below.

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TEACHERS AGAINST THE CLIMATE CRISIS (TACC)
6 July 2022
Re: Changes to environmental curricula by NCERT

We in Teachers Against the Climate Crisis (TACC) are deeply dismayed by the many recent changes to school syllabi by the NCERT. Among these, and directly related to an entire chapter on the Greenhouse Effect from the Class 11 Geography syllabus, an entire chapter on Weather, Climate, Weather Systems and Water from the Class 7 syllabus, and information about the Indian Monsoon from the Class 9 syllabus.

We appreciate that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a massive disruption to regular learning schedules all over the country. Dependent upon their teachers and their school, school children have been the worst affected. Teachers and students have not been able to meet for much of the last two years, and technological transmission being intermittent and unequally accessible to students from different social strata, students have had to find their own way through much of the material. In the context of the ensuing “learning deficit” it may seem understandable that the NCERT seeks to reduce students’ workload by culling material that, as they explain on their website, overlaps with similar material or is “irrelevant in the present context.” We in TACC also believe, as does the NCERT, that students should not have to labour over outdated and repetitive information.

However none of these concerns apply to fundamental issues such as climate change science, the Indian monsoon, and the other chapters that have been deleted. In fact, the relevant climate change science is being continuously updated via thousands of peer-reviewed papers published each year as well as very important compilations such as the IPCC’s latest, The Sixth Assessment Report earlier this year as well as the first climate change report for the Indian region from IITM published in 2020 under the aegis of the Ministry of Earth Sciences itself. It is extremely important that senior school students all over India are conveyed the essence of such updated information in an accessible, easy-to-understand manner.

The world over, and including in India, students have been deeply concerned with the drastic changes wrought by environmental degradation – of which climate change is an example. And young people’s actions and interventions are crucial to meeting this most fundamental challenge. This action needs to be predicated upon systematic knowledge of the reality of climate change, its causes, and its enormous reach. Students need to understand the complexity of the climate crisis if they are to respond and engage intelligently with it. In recent years, this engagement has typically begun in the classroom. It is essential therefore that schools continue to present students our concerns, is the removal of with information about climate change and related issues that is accurate, up-to-date, rational, and relevant.

Moreover, climate change is now widely accepted to be the result of the last few centuries of global economic and industrial practices, which have jeopardized planetary systems essential to life. As such, the issue can no longer be understood solely through the lens of “environmental science”; instead it involves various disciplines in the school curricula, including Physics, Contemporary India, History, and Democratic Politics, among others.

We have been extraordinarily fortunate in India to have had several people’s movements that have understood these linkages and who have based their struggle at the intersection of ecology, society, culture and economics. Popular people’s movements such as the Chipko movement or that led by the Narmada Bachao Andolan have been, and continue to be, a source of inspiration to people all over the world for this reason. Class 10 students however will no longer be able to learn and be inspired by these in their “Popular Struggles and Movements” lesson since the chapter on them has been taken out of their “Democratic Politics” syllabus.

We hence urge the NCERT to rethink its deletions from the school environmental syllabi, and demand that they be reinstated. We also urge that different facets of the climate crisis be taught to all senior school students, in multiple languages, and in varied disciplines, as it intersects with so many.

(Teachers Against the Climate Crisis)
Email: teachersagainstclimatecrisis@gmail.com