Speakers of a round-table conference on ‘Saffronisation of Education' held in the city on Saturday demanded that the State Government should withdraw the draft of the new social studies textbooks of Standard 5 and 8 that are reported to have a strong saffron slant.

While resolving to call for a bandh of schools and colleges in the State on February 28, the conference also decided to lay siege to the Department of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT) on February 23.

Organised by Students Federation of India (SFI), the conference saw representation from Samata Sainik Dal (SSD), Dalit Sangarsh Samiti (Ambedkarvada), Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Bharath Jnana Vijnana.

M. Venkatswamy from the SSD said the State Government was poisoning children's minds with communal views at an age when they can be moulded into good citizens. “These classes [5 and 8] are turning points in a student's life. It is easy to brainwash their minds at this age. It is unfortunate that the Government is providing them education with a saffron stint,” he said.

“These textbooks not only have distorted historical facts but also a slant typical of the Hindutva nationalist construction of Indian history,” he said.

Agitation needed

Pointing out that the Government had already released Rs.14 crore for publishing the textbooks, Mr. Venkatswamy said: “We need to launch an agitation to stop this. The draft copies should be burnt in front of Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri's house,” he said.

Mavalli Shankar of the DSS pointed out that the committee set up for the draft copy was full of people from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. “They say the books are being printed following a direction from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). But, it is a fact the Government is misusing the NCERT direction to promote its own gains,” Mr. Shankar said.

“Saffronisation of education started at the time the Government entrusted the midday meal scheme to organisations such as ISKCON and Adayuma Chetana. The textbook committee should be dissolved and a new committee comprising secular-minded people should take its place,” he said.

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