Schools now will have to take responsibility for the books that they introduce in the curriculum if they are not prescribed by any central or state board agencies, according to a new guideline issued by the Ministry of Education (MoE). The education ministry launched the “Guidelines on School Safety and Security” earlier this month. It talks about several aspects of safety on the school campus and also consists of instructions regarding students’ well-being in school. There are also instructions regarding books in the curriculum.
There have been many incidents in the recent past, of schools making news for teaching books that have some controversial material. The Print quoted a National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) official referring to these incidents and saying that the study material in these cases is not prescribed by the NCERT or State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and hence, it should not be their responsibility, rather the schools shall own up to it.
In accordance with these instructions, the schools ought to put up a notice, specifying the list of books prescribed or selected by it if the institution chooses not to follow textbooks suggested by NCERT, SCERT, and respective state boards.
The order is for both government and private schools. The guidelines further add that the institutions shall put up a written declaration on their website that the responsibility of thoroughly checking the contents of textbooks prescribed by them lies with the school. This declaration is to be jointly signed by the manager and the principal in private schools and by the principal or head of school in government schools.
To avoid repeating controversial incidents from the recent past, the guidelines specifically mention that the textbooks used by the schools should not promote any kind of discrimination based on religion, gender, caste, class, ethnicity, language, etc. Rather the books should promote environmental protection, inclusion, ethical behaviour, gender equality, etc, said the NCERT official to ThePrint.
Earlier in 2018, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had also brought in a new clause in its by-laws cautioning schools that they could lose affiliation if they prescribed books with objectionable content.