“Text books should go beyond morals and values”
They might still have a few years before they actually enter a polling booth and exercise their franchise, but students are exposed to ideas such as democracy, citizens' rights and responsibilities well ahead, while in school.
Many middle school students will, for the first time, see some of the processes described in their Civics textbooks come alive in the city on Wednesday.
G. Koteswara Prasad, Rajiv Gandhi Chair and former head of Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras, says exposing students to concepts such as democracy early might help them when they become eligible to vote.
“I know that the CBSE revised its Civics education syllabus relatively recently. I have not examined the State Board textbooks recently. It is important that students get to know what it means to be a good citizen and the duties that come with it,” he adds. According to sources in the team of teachers involved in writing textbooks in the Samacheer Kalvi initiative of the School Education Department there has been a conscious attempt to make Civics subject more engaging for students.
“Traditionally, our Civics textbooks have placed too much emphasis on morals and virtues. Civics education has to go beyond that. I think more information on local body elections and Assembly elections will be useful,” said a high school social science teacher who did not wish to be named.
T.S. Thiyagarajan, correspondent, Sri Sai Vivekananda Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Kodungaiyur, says Civics lessons could actually help restore children's faith in democracy and a government.
“I find that children are increasingly voicing their concerns about how rules are not being followed in general, corruption, and this freebie culture in elections. They do not have a good impression of politicians,” he said.
Organising activities such as mock parliaments may help capture their attention. Lessons on the powers of a government and the role of a citizen can make them realise their responsibilities, including their contribution to the formation of a good government.
“They should know how every vote can help make a difference in the larger context. We have been urging students to encourage their parents to vote without fail,” he adds.