(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 12, 2001
The three-day National Convention against Communalisation of Education, organised by SAHMAT, adopted and released the following statement on its conclusion on August 6.
WE express grave concern at the communalisation of education that the BJP-led central government has been pursuing since it came to power. There is a national consensus that the goals of democracy, equality and secularism lay down the basic direction that all educational programmes must follow. The various activities and programmes, which the present government has initiated are marked by the abandonment of this course. This poses a serious threat to the unity and integrity of the country.
The present government has converted almost every national level educational and academic body into an instrument for implementing the communal agenda of the Sangh Parivar. It has appointed persons as heads and as members of decision-making committees of these bodies, on the sole criterion of their affinity with the ideology of the Sangh Parivar.
The ministry of human resources development and the bodies under its control, particularly NCERT, have been engaged in attacking the secular and scientific content of school curriculum, promoting obscurantism under the garb of value education, and tampering with the core curricular area of the scientific temper in the guise of reviving indigenous knowledge. The so-called National Curriculum Framework for School Education, prepared by NCERT and released by the minister of human resources development last November, is a blue-print for lowering the quality of school education in the country and giving it a narrow, exclusivist, sectarian and obscurantist orientation. It grossly violates the National Policy on Education (1986, 1992) which had as its basic thrust the promotion of strictly secular values.
In our country where education, notwithstanding its inclusion in the concurrent list, remains basically a state subject, any national programme in the area of education has to be based on a national consensus and evolved with the full involvement and participation of the states. The present government has rendered this mechanism of consultation totally irrelevant by refusing to place the so-called curriculum framework for the consideration and approval of the Central Advisory Board of Education. The National Curriculum Framework for School Education is, therefore, completely devoid of any legitimacy.
The direction of the changes already implemented or being introduced in higher education is no less dangerous. The kinds of courses which the UGC has already decided to introduce, in the name of traditional knowledge, are aimed at fostering revivalism and obscurantism and destroying the scientific character of higher education. It is heartening that the scientific community in India has raised its voice against these decisions and many universities have refused to accept them as university courses.
We express our deep sense of regret that the partners and allies of the BJP in the present government have remained mute spectators to the policies and programmes which, by destroying the secular character of education, undermine the foundations of Indias nationhood and its unity and integrity.
We demand that
The signatories to the statement included Ajit Jogi (chief minister of Chhattisgarh), education ministers of several states like Kanti Biswas and Mohammed Salim (West Bengal), Ramchandra Purwe (Bihar), C P Joshi (Rajasthan), Ratnesh Solomon (Madhya Pradesh), Chuba Chang (Nagaland), H Vishwanath (Karnataka), A V Subramaniam (Pondicherry), Narendra Nath (Delhi) and Satyanarayan Sharma (Chhattisgarh), members of parliament like Shabana Azmi, Mani Shankar Aiyer, Eduardo Faleiro and Bharati Ray, and leaders of political parties like Arjun Singh (Congress-I), A B Bardhan (CPI) and Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat (both CPI-M).