Bengaluru: Karnataka has been known as an educational hub at the national level. Educational clusters have been established across the state. People from across the country prefer to study in reputed educational institutions of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Mysuru, Dharwad and Belagavi districts. However, the controversies surrounding textbook revisions followed by political slugfest between BJP, Congress and JD(S), agitation by litterateurs, protests registered by religious seers over the differential treatment to great personalities have again put the state in to the spotlight at the national level. Experts are fearing that the events have dented the image of the state as an educational hub. After the hijab controversy, the textbook revisions row has hit the state`s education sector hard. As the hijab crisis made international headlines, the controversies over textbook revisions have already taken a communal turn and seems to be evolving as major crisis causing concern among parents and children.
Recognised Unaided Private Schools Association (RUPSA) President Lokesh Talikote talking to IANS stated that the whole process of textbook revision has completely dented the image of the state as an educational hub.
“There used to be sanctity and respect towards textbooks. Universally acceptable chapters were chosen. There used to be 180 experts as members for the textbook revision committee earlier. Each subject, lesson are carefully dealt with by experts. The ruling BJP with 9 to 10 members committee got the revisions done. It is impossible for such a committee to revise 160 to 170 chapters,” he explained.
The ruling BJP government has constituted the textbook revision committee under the Chairmanship of Rohith Chakrathirtha to revise Kannada textbooks of Class 1 to 10. The committee also revised Social Science textbooks of Class 6 to 10.
Opposition leader Siddaramaiah has launched a scathing attack on Chakrathirtha. He called him a “troller” and a person with a “perverted mindset”. Siddaramaiah also slammed the Education Minister B.C. Nagesh for backing Chakrathirtha.
The Opposition leader has demanded legal action against Chakrathirtha for “insulting” great personalities and martyrs.
Minister Nagesh maintains that the opposition and commotion is “due to the inclusion of the speech of RSS founder K.B. Hedgewar in the syllabus”. He also said that the opposition is also due to “dropping glorification of Muslim kings” including Tippu Sultan. The revision exercise gives due respect to the culture and religion of the land, which is not tolerated by leftists and Opposition parties, he said.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced that he would look into lessons on which concerns have been raised and assured of rectification. He also announced the dissolution of the textbook revision committee headed by Chakrathirtha as its job of revision is complete.
Nagesh later announced that the revised lesson of History textbook of II PUC (Pre University Colleges) by the Chakrathirtha committee would not be accepted to pacify the dissent voices.
The Opposition has intensified its agitation and warned the government that the revised textbooks should not be distributed to the students. Sources explain that if the ruling BJP decides to distribute books, there is going to be a crisis situation in the state.
RUPSA President Talikote has given a call to private school managements to choose books of their choice. “Out of 1.6 crore children studying in schools in Karnataka between Class 1 and 10, more than 50 lakh children study in private institutions and they won`t read the revised textbooks,” he says.
“…There is great demand for private schools. The parents are migrating from government schools to private schools after the syllabus row. About 15 lakh students have joined private schools,” he explained.
S.R. Raghavendra, President of Human Rights Preservation and Corruption Eradication Forum and social activist, while speaking to IANS, accused the ruling BJP of “attempting to falsify what is eternal truth in the education system”. “It is trying to prove that education imparted all these days was a farce,” he claimed.
“If the political parties take up the work of textbook revision for promoting their ideologies, where will it lead to? Earlier, litterateurs, scholars and researchers use to decide what the children should read. It is sad that now politicians are deciding over the issue,” Raghavendra added.
“If lessons on minorities are being dropped, it must be replaced with better content which has not happened. The government has not bothered to take opinions from all sections. The revision exercise has caused a dent in the emotions of people of Karnataka and dent in the education process of the children,” he said.
Experts fear that political slugfest apart, the whole controversy has resulted in students and the teaching fraternity looking at the textbooks with suspicion. The sanctity and pure clean mindset of knowledge exploration has been lost in the din.
As the elections are nearing, the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress as well as the JD(S), “lost in their strategies”, do not seem to be bothered about the dent the issue is making on student fraternity and on the image of Karnataka as an educational hub, experts say.