Newly appointed Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister Madhu Bangarappa on Tuesday indicated the possibility of revising school textbooks in the days ahead, in the interest of the students and to ensure that their minds are not ”polluted”.
He however did not wish to make any comments on overturning te ‘hijab ban’, saying the matter was before court, and asked people to wait for answers on the new government’s plans to scrap the National Education Policy (NEP).
The Congress in its poll manifesto had promised to undo the changes made to school textbooks when the BJP was in power, and had also promised to scrap NEP.
”I was the vice president of the Congress’ manifesto committee, and in the manifesto we had said clearly that textbook revision will take place in the interest of the students’ future. We don’t want their minds to get polluted,” Bangarappa said.
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Speaking to reporters here, he said, ”We have already said that students come to schools to get educated and we don’t want it to be disturbed, and there should be no mistake on part of the government or me or officials or the system in this regard. We have given the commitment.” Stating that textbooks for the start of school from tomorrow have been dispatched to an extent, he said, ”The challenge before us now is — how we will do it with care, without affecting the students and their studies.” The commitment in the manifesto will be taken forward with the guidance of the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, he added.
Asserting that the act of ”polluting children’s minds through texts and lessons” cannot be condoned, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday had said, ”As the academic year has started, we will discuss and take action so that the education of the children is not disturbed.” Noting that the education sector will not be allowed to be ”adulterated” in the name of NEP, the CM had said that a separate meeting would be convened in this regard once again to discuss it comprehensively and take strict decisions.
Stating that he has already held one round of discussions with the Chief Minister, Bangarappa said he will be creating a team to take things forward in the department.
”I can’t divulge much on this now, cabinet meeting is scheduled to take place on June 1, and on that day things might take shape for him to share more information,” he said.
There was a textbook controversy during the previous regime, with demands by opposition Congress and some writers for sacking the then textbook review committee chief Rohith Chakratirtha for allegedly ”saffronising” school textbooks by including the speech of RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar as a chapter, and omitting chapters on key figures like freedom fighters, social reformers, and the writings of noted literary figures.
There were also allegations of erroneous content on 12th century social reformer Basavanna and certain factual errors in the textbooks, including accusations of disrespecting ‘Raashtra Kavi’ (national poet) Kuvempu and distortion of the state anthem penned by him. Initially the allegations were refuted but subsequently rectifications were made in some cases. Responding to a question on whether the hijab ban will be overturned in schools and colleges, the minister said, ”As the matter is in the court, if I make any comments, it will be wrong. Whatever has to be done legally by the government will be done by the Law Department. This is the direction I have got as of now…if I say anything else, it will become a commitment.” Asked about Congress’ plans to scrap the National Education Policy, Bangarappa said, ”You will get answers for this in the days to come. I have just got the responsibility of the department yesterday.”