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10. Serving a political cause for free!
Review of social studies textbooks in Gujarat.
There has been $ 0 as contribution that is registered from the Seattle Chapter.
We started this exercise of reviewing textbooks after we heard complaints about the content of the social studies textbooks in Gujarat. Media reports talked about the poor state and also the communal overtones of the books. So we decided to check it out for ourselves. ASHA has been very closely involved with education for over a decade. But to our knowledge a systematic assessment of the quality of teaching material has never been made. We feel that such an assessment is necessary to really understand what the children are subjected to in schools. Soon after starting we realised that we were entering a problematic territory. We heard a lot about ‘communalisation’ of Gujarat textbooks. In addition to aspects of this, we found a whole lot of other issues in these books.
Before I go into details of what we found, let me give you the set of guidelines that we were following when looking into the textbooks. We selected the following questions as our guidelines:
- Does the textbook provide a comprehensive view of history?
- Does the textbook present history in a clear and coherent manner?
- Does history follow a timeline?
- Does the textbook promote different types of biases and stereotyping?
- Are there any factual inaccuracies?
- Does the textbook promote analytical thinking on part of the student?
- Are multiple viewpoints presented?
- Does the textbook provide background for pressing social problems in India?
What we found
We found all kinds of issues including the following— widespread mix-up of history with mythology, promotion of various types of biases and stereotyping, incoherent and incomprehensive presentation of history, poor presentation, factual inaccuracies and often lack of any attempt towards promoting critical thinking among children.
Project Type: Working with the Government [emphasis added]
Comment: Now this is a joke. I would have thought working against the Narendra Modi Government would have been a more accurate description. This project, which is one of the 1,538 projects listed in the ASHA funding website, is overtly political in that it has undertaken a review of textbooks as a part of their history/fiction-writing obsessions in a state which they fear is completely Hinduised. Sandeep Pandey was obviously justifying his Magsaysay citation which commended him for resisting Government plans to favour Hinduism in state schools. (excerpts from the citation are presented at the end of this chapter). No money though! At least none that is on the website. We must take it that the textbooks were reviewed free of cost by ASHA to retrospectively justify Sandeep’s Magsaysay!!