People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 27

July 13 , 2008


Expert Committee Formed To Look Into Textbook Controversy


THE government of Kerala formed an 18 member expert committee to look into the controversy created over VII standard Social Science textbook. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on July 4, 2008, M A Baby, minister for Education and Culture, government of Kerala said that the committee is headed by noted historian K N Pannikar and includes Arjun Dev (retired professor, NCERT), Anita Rampal and Poonam Batra (department of Education, Delhi University). Though the representatives of the organisations which have criticised the text were also invited to join the committee, they have refused. He said the LDF led Kerala government was first in the country to make attempts at democratising the process of framing the curriculum for school textbooks. The Kerala Curriculum Framework has been evolved through consensus built up with the grassroots level participation of academics and people at large.


Baby said that in order to reduce students’ burden of carrying a heavy load of books, the textbooks were divided into two parts. The controversial text is only the first part of the Social Science book for class VII. The second part is yet to be printed and circulated. He said the textbook is neither anti religious nor preaches atheism. The story of Jeevan not only exemplifies the right to choose one’s religion which is guaranteed by the constitution, but also gives an insight into the new pedagogy of the text which empowers the children to negotiate knowledge for themselves. He said the Congress party and minority institutions are hand in glove with the BJP in opposing the textbook.


Aditya Mukherjee from the Centre for Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Ram Rahman, an eminent photographer who spoke in the press conference were also very critical of the attempt to thwart the initiative to secularise the text books in Kerala.