New Delhi: Karnataka’s Department of Public Instruction announced on Monday that it would be reducing syllabi for students in classes one through ten by 30% in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the learning challenges that has brought with it. The new schedule, uploaded on the Karnataka Textbook Society website, assumes that school will open on September 1.
A section from the Class 7 social science textbook that discussed Tipu Sultan, Haider Ali, historical sites in Mysuru and the administration of commissioners has been removed, according to The Hindu. Similarly, a section from the Class 10 textbook that covers Tipu Sultan, Haider Ali, the rebellion of Halagali Bedas and the rebellion of Kittur Chenamma-Rayanna have been cut, and will now be taught through “project and chart preparation”.
There has been a longstanding demand from Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in Karnataka to cut sections on Tipu Sultan out of school textbooks. In December 2019, though, a panel constituted by the state government recommended retaining these sections, saying, “It is impossible to teach the history of Mysore without the introduction to Tipu.”
The Class 7 social science textbook will no longer have chapters on salient features of the Indian constitution and the drafting committee, because students also learn that in Class 9, according to the department. Similar logic has been applied to cutting “entire lessons” on Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad from the Class 6 textbook.
According to the Times of India, educators are worried that the government is not making any plans on how to keep students engaged until physical classes resume. The Hindu too quoted experts who believe the government is focusing more on cutting syllabi than ensuring proper time for learning. “They should have considered more hours for higher primary and secondary classes as we have time till May 2020. It is not that the exams should get over in March itself,” said V.P. Niranjan Aradhya, fellow, Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University, Bengaluru.
Cutting syllabus in junior classes, he said, could have an adverse affect on students in higher classes, as they may not have the required background.
Earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Central Board of Secondary Education too had decided to “rationalise” syllabi for classes 9-12. However, critics pointed out that crucial sections were being cut. For instance, chapters on federalism, citizenship, nationalism and secularism from Class 11’s political science curriculum were completely eliminated for the academic year 2020-21. Biologists also criticised the removal of chapters on ecology and evolution.