In Response to Pandemic, CBSE Board Adapts Class 9‑12 Syllabus
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has deleted a number of political science topics, ranging from democracy to nationalism, from the syllabus for Class 9-12. The board stated that this was a temporary measure to reduce student stress and make up for loss of instructional time due to the Covid19 lockdown.
According to documents obtained by the Indian Express, the topics that will be cut from the syllabus are: environment and natural resources, food security, gender, diversity, caste, foreign relations with neighboring countries, citizenship, nationalism and secularism.
The CBSE stated that no questions will be asked from any of the topics above in the 2020-2021 Board Examinations. But, it clarified yesterday that these topics were included in an Alternate Academic Calendar, which is already being covered by all schools affiliated with the board. According to the National Council of Educational Research and Training’s (NCERT) website, this alternative calendar is a means to, “multiple alternative ways of learning at home through interesting activities.”
Taking into account India’s current political climate, both internally and with respect to relations with neighboring nations, multiple citizens and politicians questioned the CBSE’s decision. Politicians like Shashi Tharoor and Mamata Banerjee expressed their shock, with the former questioning the CBSE’s motives and the latter asking the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry to not curtail important lessons at any cost. Prominent journalists, academics and citizens also showcased their displeasure, but many also alluded to not being surprised, considering the government’s positions in recent years.
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Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s deputy chief minister and minister of education questioned the removal of these topics in a statement. He said,”The secondary school curriculum classes IX-X 2020-21 and senior secondary school curriculum classes XI-XII 2020-21 does not explain the process by which the course committee, curriculum committee or the Governing Body of CBSE arrived at the decision to remove or include any particular topic/chapter.”
The CBSE’s move to reduce 30% of student load is justified, especially taking into account the stress of a pandemic piled atop the high levels of stress that Class 9-12 students generally undergo due to Board Examinations. Yet, the exclusions speak volumes about what subjects the board deems essential versus expendable. The only way to get students to take vital political science topics seriously is to deem them serious enough to merit inclusion in even a truncated syllabus.