National Curriculum Framework-2005 (NCF-2005) is against the wisdom and psyche of the nation. It imposes an outdated materialist ideology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries behind the facade of rational and scientific approach on a nation that aims to send its 21-century generation to moon and stars of beyond. It negates and in reality violates founding fathers, Parliament of India and the considered opinion of the Supreme Court on many counts.
The Constitution Assembly debates tell that even our founding fathers distinguished between religious education and education about religions and had accepted the latter. So has the Supreme Court in its September 12, 2002 judgment. Similarly, S.B. Chavan Committee also maintains a similar view. There was even a directive to the NCERT to implement the Chavan Committee report on this issue. But the NCF-2005 absolutely ignores these values completely. The students would not be able to develop spiritually as per Gandhiji'sdreams. Education would be limited to being an instrument of mere material, cut-throat competition and valueless social living.
The draft of the NCF-2005 at least mentioned the names of some Indian thinkers like Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, etc (P.97) but under the unfortunate pressure of leftists, these names were dropped from the final document. It is a matter of grim concern that the NCERT has not followed the established procedure in which first the curriculum is framed, on the basis of which syllabi of various subjects are formed and finally on the basis of these syllabi the textbooks are written. But now the NCERT authorities tried to match pre-1999 books to post-2000 syllabus (as they claimed). Moreover, before a new syllabus formation they began writing new books and the curriculum framework that should have come first is coming in the end.
The NPE-1986 shows its commitment to the development of facilities for the intensive study of Sanskrit (5.23, p.26). But the UPA government'snew curriculum tacitly betrays its opposition to the study of Sanskrit by remaining silent on the matter. Sanskrit has been included in classical language such as Latin, Arabic, Persian, Tamil. It is against the Constitution. In other place it has been stated that Sanskrit may be studied as an MIL. Why this contradiction? The NPE-1986 also underlines the need for including yoga in all school programmes and paying special attention to it (8.21, p. 41), whereas the new curriculum document merely lists yoga in school activities along with games, sports and health education. Nothing has been said about making any special effort for its development or even on its importance.
The NPE-1986 adequately emphasises the need for providing special opportunities to the talented and fast-learning children in order to enable them to learn more and more and maintain the level of excellence in education, so that Indian students may secure a place among the best students of the world (5.12, p.21 and 12.2, p.50). However, Curriculum-2005 does not care for excellence in education, nor does it recognise the talented learners? educational needs. The NPE-1986 gives clear direction for including Constitutional obligations (fundamental duties) among the core elements of education (3.4, p.6). Contradicting this, the new documents lay full emphasis on only fundamental rights, learning of duties has been willfully ignored.
The NPE rightly considers education to be an instrument of social and national unity and cohesion, whereas the new framework is committed to viewing education exclusively from the perspective of the ?deprived groups? in order to make the social and national divisions eternal. The NPE-1986 expresses a resolve to the new generations not to break away from their roots of ancient Indian history and culture (8.1, p.35) and reiterates the determination to encourage young students to discover and interpret India in their desired manner and from their own perspective (3.7, p. 7). Quite contrary to this, the new framework presents India in the form of a multinational country fragmented on the left considerations of caste, groups, class, religion, etc. It also declares its resolve to do so.
The students would fall a prey to ill will, prejudice and misgivings because of their constant reading and brooding about caste, religion, class etc., and would remain involved in social division, self-condemnation, cynicism, class conflicts, etc.
The Kothari Commission, deemed to be the guiding light in Indian education, has described education as the most important instrument of national unity, social cohesion etc. National identity has also been accepted as being important. As against this, these elements have been driven out of the new NCERT documents. The NCF maintains studied silence on India'spast glory and ancient fund of knowledge. It focuses on ?making education more relevant to the present day and future needs only.?
The late Shri Rajiv Gandhi'sslogan ?My India is Great? (Mera Bharat Mahaan) is not acceptable to the UPA government. It is committed to picking up black spots and blemishes alone in the political, religious, cultural and social manifestations of this ancient nation. A paradigm shift is recommended proposing the study of social sciences from the perspective of marginalised groups above. It is an extremely divisive and exclusivist view aimed at further fuelling close conflicts?not helping national cohesion. The MLL approach is held as being ?impractical? and ?pedagogically in sound? (Comprehension 3.17.4, p. 67).
The NCF-2005 projects India to be known as a fractured too divided, multinational and political country. No alternative is allowed or tolerated. ?Significant changes are recommended with a view to making education more relevant to the present day and future needs? (Eco Summary; P.VI). The views about vocational education held so far have been totally rejected. The school education has been deprived of the vital sector.
(The author is former joint director of NCERT.)