The Congress, which had ordered to delete the names of patriots from school textbooks, is out to politicise the efforts of extending due respect to the patriots in Rajasthan. Organiser Senior Correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to Rajasthan Education Minister Vadudev Devnanani to know the changes that have been made in the curriculum. Excerpts:
What was the objective behind amending the school curriculum?
The curriculum has been amended focusing on three points—to add the lessons highlighting the life and contribution of patriots, generate glorious feeling towards Indian culture, and to mould the citizens with good values. The new curriculum has come into force from this academic session only. The previous State government had gone to such an extent to poison the curriculum that it ordered to tear the pages from books or black the names of many great personalities mentioned in the books. Some of the names which were removed from the pages are of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Deendayal Upadhyaya, Veer Savarkar, etc. Even the word ‘Sanghe Shakti Kalauyuge’ was blacked. Similarly, the word ‘Kumbha Mela’ was deleted.
Now what has been added?
We have added the life sketch of about 200 patriots of Rajasthan. The previous government taught the students that the freedom movement began from 1885 totally ignoring the first freedom movement of 1857. Therefore, we have accommodated the life of those patriots also. We have also added the life and work of Bhagwan Mahavir, Acharya Tulsi, Surajmal, Durgadas Rathor, Mahatma Phule, Dr Ambedkar, Netaji Subhas Bose, Veer Savarkar, Hemu Kalani, etc. We have also replaced the chapter which taught ‘Akbar was Great’ with the chapter on Maharana Pratap. If Gandhiji is great it is because he fought against the British. If the British cannot be great for us, how can Akbar be?
Singing of Vandemataram, performing Suryanamaskar, yoga and dhyana are also now compulsory during morning assembly. Some people went to court against this decision, but the court ruled in our favour. We have also recruited Sanskrit teachers.
What is the impact of all these steps on the ground?
In two years we have enrolled over 8 lakh more students and hope to increase this number to 10 lakh in this academic year. It is important, because around four lakh enrolments decreased per year during the Congress regime. By and large 12 lakh enrolments had decreased. There used to be 72 lakh students, which decreased to 60 lakh. We addressed the grievances of teachers and now they visit door-to-door to increase the enrolment. The first and third ranks in the merit list of Arts in 12th standard are from government schools. In 10th standard, there is 15 per cent improvement in government schools results.
But the Congress is criticising all these efforts?
The Congressmen stopped criticising when they were asked counter questions by the public itself. They alleged that we removed the name of Pt Nehru. It is wrong. Pt Nehru’s name is still at more than 15 places. We did not remove the names, we only added. It was the Congress which calculatedly ordered to remove the names. In 2009, the Madhyamik Shiksha Board issued directive to black the names or tear the pages from the books. In 2002 also, they had done it.
What is the objective behind all these efforts?
The overall objective is to make good citizens by imparting quality education. We want to improve the quality of government schools so much so that they become top priority for parents to admit their wards. We have collected the data of about 80 lakh teachers and students through web portals—Shala Darshan (for secondary set up) and Shala Darpan (for primary set up) by collecting their Aadhar Card and blood group.
What about girl education?
All the girls studying in ninth standard are being provided with free cycles. We have distributed about 5.5 lakh cycles in two years. This year we are going to provide 3.5 lakh cycles. Those who could not be provided with cycles, they are being provided transport allowance through schools. During the last two years, we have distributed about 43,000 laptops also to the students.