Hardline Marxist academics are up in arms against a section of their own fraternity — left-liberal educationists — for drawing up a flawed national curriculum framework (NCF) that will come into effect in schools from the next academic year.
Historians like Irfan Habib, Bipan Chandra and Arjun Dev today launched a campaign against NCERT director Krishna Kumar and his team of experts at a day-long seminar, saying they will not allow the framework to be adopted.
“The 2005 NCF is appealing to the NDA-BJP constituency. We will stoutly oppose it and will try to get it withdrawn at the Central Advisory Board of Education (Cabe) meeting later this month,” Habib said.
The education board is, however, expected to endorse the 2005 NCF. “The NCF draft is a huge joke,” Habib said.
Five years ago, academics and educationists had led a campaign against Murli Manohar Joshi and his acolyte and former NCERT director J.S. Rajput, charging them with introducing a “sub-standard and biased” curriculum framework. The curriculum and textbooks were pushed through despite opposition.
After the United Progressive Alliance came to power, human resource development minister Arjun Singh set into motion the exercise of charting a new NCF.
A section of Marxist academics hoped to see the textbooks authored by Romila Thapar, Bipan Chandra, Arjun Dev and Satish Chandra back in the classrooms. The NCERT under Rajput had scrapped these books.
But the new curriculum draft has scuttled such hopes. “There is a lot of heartburn because we are not going back to the old textbooks,” said an education board member.
The real grouse of the Marxist critics — many board members believe — lies in the textbooks. “They are sulking because they have been left out,” an educationist said.
“What is being planned for the new curriculum is innovative and radical,” said another member.
At today’s seminar, a panel of academics reeled out a series of objections to the new NCF. “What does the framework mean saying the curriculum should be rooted in local tradition and everyday experience?” asked Zoya Hasan of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
“Too much of this local business is not good. A lot of it is a den of patriarchal, casteist values.”
But she stressed it would be wrong to equate the 2000 NCF introduced by Joshi’s team with the present one.
Habib said the new NCF “eludes” secularism and does not give enough space to the subject.
Critics believe the proposal to scrap the Class X board exam will hurt students. The NCF says students unwilling to take the exam should settle for an internal school exam lading to a certificate.
Other recommendations in the draft include having two levels — simple and complex — for subjects so that “weak” students can opt for the former, and doing away with school exams between classes V and XI. This would rule out failures.
“You can do anything but you will still be promoted to the next class,” Habib said.