Panel restructures school curriculum, readies draft of new syllabus

Higher secondary students in State-run schools in West Bengal may no longer have the opportunity to study from their textbooks subjects such as the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels — founders of Marxism — and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

A committee to restructure school education syllabus in the State has prepared a final draft of new syllabus excluding the topics in the history textbooks.

“The committee has done away with excess stress on any particular topic including Karl Marx. With alterations, we have tried to present history of the world in a new thematic way,” Avik Majumdar, the chairperson of the Committee, told The Hindu.

Mr. Majumdar said that the committee had recommended teaching historical background of Latin America, anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and the Chinese revolution instead.

Stating that the existing history textbooks stressed on a particular ideology, he said that the committee has tried to have a balanced approach on the history syllabus. “The committee has not excluded anyone without logic,” he said.

Teachers of the subject, however, claim that there had s been no overemphasis on Marx in the existing textbooks. The history textbooks of Class XI and class XII discuss the Industrial Revolution and refer to Karl Marx and his contributions in that context.

The 19-member committee has prepared the final draft of the new syllabus and will be submitting it to the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education the next week.

Certain representatives of the Committee, however, are in the dark about the developments.

“The matter was discussed in a meeting and members had also raised objection to the proposal. But we have no idea that whether the final draft of syllabus has excluded these subjects,” a committee member said.

The Committee was set up by the State government in July 2011 to frame syllabus of all subjects “in conformity with [the] National Curriculum Framework, 2005, Right of the Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and modern developments in pedagogy.”

However, noted educationist Sunanda Sanyal, who was appointed chairperson of the committee, resigned within months citing differences with the government.