A very few parents might realise that a majority of the nursery rhymes being taught to their children in schools had their origins during the British colonial rule in India.
The rhymes in children’s curriculum originated mostly in England, Scotland or Ireland. A few may also have originated in the U.S., thereby having little relevance to the children here.
Sabrina Bernadine, an educationist who has undertaken a research on this subject says, some of these poems have been dropped by the British for they have caused controversies for being insensitive to certain sections of the society.
Such poems include the widely-used ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep,’ which is now believed to be a complaint against medieval English taxes on wool and slave trade.
“My research led me to realise that most of nursery rhymes smack of a colonial agenda with references to places like St.Ives, Banbury Cross, and London Bridge that are ridiculously misplaced in the present Indian context.”
In order to provide the children with rhymes that reflect the needs of the present day environment, she has come out with a collection ‘My First Rhymer Primer” designed for the 3 to 5 age group (LKG, UKG and Class I). It is a composition of fresh nursery rhymes with accompanying tune and music. The music is available along with the book in the form of an animated CD which each child can take home. Some schools in Tirupur and Bangalore have already agreed to use this book, she says.
Ms. Sabrina Bernadine was the vice-principal of a school in Kotagiri, which was funded by an educational consortium of the United Kingdom eight years, and later held the post of principal-cum-administrative officer of Century Foundation Matriculation School in Tirupur for seven years from its establishment in 1997 to 2004.