Several academicians have criticised the Council of Boards of School Education (COBSE) for pushing for a common curriculum in science and mathematics across the country.

Describing the move as an “overstep” of its role on the part of the Council, a joint statement issued by four academicians have raised questions over the preparation of the curriculum by the COBSE, which is the coordinating body for school boards in the country.

The statement has been issued by Professor A.K. Sharma, Prof. J.S. Rajput — both former directors of the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) — Prof. N.K. Ambasht, former professor in the NCERT, and Prof. A.N. Maheshwari, former chairman of the National Council for Teacher Education.

The COBSE last month prepared a common core curriculum for science and mathematics for the Plus 2 stream and got it approved by the States. The syllabus was released by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

“Such an attempt tends to give an impression that a parallel curriculum is being developed as an alternative to the NCERT curriculum. We fail to understand the need for this new effort,” the joint statement said.

The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 — developed by the NCERT and approved by the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) — provides a benchmark to the States for developing syllabi and textbooks which have the flexibility to suit specific contexts.

The statement pointed out that the NCERT curriculum in science and mathematics was the core curriculum in these subjects, adding that many States had already undertaken a revision of their curricula in conformity with the guidelines contained in the NCF.

The COBSE's new attempt has created misgivings and confusion in educational circles, particularly so when the NCF is already in force and students have already undertaken the examination in the NCF-based curricula. “We feel that this development calls for rethinking on the part of all concerned,” the statement added.

“The NCERT associates with its faculty, practising school teachers, eminent scientists, social scientists, historians, and linguists in its curriculum development initiatives. We sincerely feel that an institution like the NCERT, which has wide ranging expertise spread over five decades in all areas of school education, the like of which is not available in any other institution in the country, should continue to discharge its responsibility for curriculum development,” the statement said.