Karnataka: Siddaramaiah govt set to shelve controversial textbook revisions

It's reliably learnt that changes’ made by the Rohit Chakrathirtha committee will be put on hold and the revisions implemented in 2017-18 will be continued in the 2023-24 academic year

Siddaramaiah, textbook revision controversy
An expert committee will be formed by the Siddaramaiah government to study the revisions and a decision will be taken by the new committee whether to make any further changes or abolish the same

The newly elected Siddaramaiah government seems to be all set to shelve the controversial revisions in textbooks made during the BJP dispensation in Karnataka, which had given a communal colour to the entire issue in the state.

Sources say ‘changes’ made by the Rohit Chakrathirtha committee will be put on hold and the revisions implemented in 2017-18 will be continued in the 2023-24 academic year.

An expert committee will be formed to study the revisions and a decision will be taken by the new committee whether to make any further changes or abolish the same and continue the older version in the textbooks, highly placed sources told The Federal.

The controversial revisions

The revisions had generated a lot of controversy and almost triggered a socio-political crisis in the state with many writers, scholars, politicians and seers up in arms against the previous BJP government.

In 2020, a textbook revision committee was set up by the BJP government after it received complaints that some chapters or sections in Kannada textbooks were against the Brahmin community. Last year, revisions were made in social science textbooks from Classes 6 to 10 and Kannada language textbooks from Classes 1 to 10. The Karnataka government then ordered the printing of school textbooks ahead of the academic year.

The primary and secondary textbooks of Kannada and history, which contained information related to Tipu Sultan, famous poet Kuvempu and other sections, were changed accordingly by the committee. Education experts, progressive thinkers and the Opposition Congress party leaders, including Siddaramaiah, raised a hue and cry against this move by the education department.

The allegations were that text on progressive reformer Basavanna was changed, a chapter on Kuvempu was dropped from the Bhasha Bharati textbook, a chapter on Bhagat Singh was dropped, including a topic on RSS founder Hedgewar and more. This attracted protests from various communities in the state and progressive writers and thinkers wanted Chakrathirtha to be removed and wrote letters to the government.

Veteran writer Devanuru Mahadeva wrote a letter to the then-BJP government to drop his article from the textbook.

Also read: ‘Bulbul flight’: Textbook chapter on Savarkar makes Karnataka govt blush

Rohit Chakrathirtha, textbook revisions, Karnataka
Professor VP Niranjanardhya wants the controversial elements in the textbooks to be removed and action taken against the textbook committee chairman, Rohith Chakrathirtha

Demand to drop revisions by educator

Meanwhile, The Federal learnt that the newly formed Congress government is now goaded to act on this issue after education experts have urged them.

Professor VP Niranjanardhya, fellow and programme head of Universalisation of Education at the National Law School of India university and the founder of the co-ordination forum of SDMCs (School Development Monitoring Committee) wrote a letter to Karnataka Chief minister Siddaramaiah and demanded that the revisions suggested in the textbooks by the BJP government should be dropped.

Moreover, the professor wanted the controversial elements to be removed and action taken against Rohit Chakrathirtha. He also requested the state government to reject the centre’s National Education Policy-2020 (NEP) and formulate and implement a ‘State Education Policy’.

In his letter, the professor said that the ruling BJP has used the education sector in Karnataka for politics. “Till the implementation of the New Education Policy in the state, the revised syllabus of the BJP government should be abandoned. The syllabus and textbooks in effect in 2017-18 should be continued, and legal action should be taken against the chairman of the syllabus revision committee, Rohit Chakrathirtha and the members of the committee,” the professor demanded in his letter.

‘Reject unconstitutional NEP’

“The National Education Policy formulated by the central government is unconstitutional and should be rejected in the first session of the legislative assembly. A new education policy should be formulated to bring a good quality education system in the state,” the letter also said.

Further, Niranjanardhya demanded that the Kannada and history books have already been printed and they should be stopped. “Legal action should be taken against the persons who have caused crores of losses to the state exchequer in the name of text revision against the wishes of the Constitution, without even a proper order, and the government has to recover that money,” said Niranjanardhya.

In the first session of the legislature, a resolution should be taken to reject the National Education Policy, which is unconstitutional and undemocratic and has been designed to achieve Hindu nationalism based on religious communalism instead of the pluralistic nationalism advocated by the Constitution secretly without transparency, he added.

He wanted the state government to officially communicate to the Union government. The union government should be convinced that education is on the concurrent list, he stressed.

Also, he suggested that a permanent state education commission/authority should be established to formulate, implement and continuously evaluate a State Education Policy that can comprehensively transform public education as per the wish of the Constitution and ensure an equal quality education system for all children.

Also read: BJP targets Siddaramaiah as ‘Savarkar Chariot’ makes its way across districts

Formulate State Education Policy

Meanwhile, Niranjanaradhya told The Federal that until the State Education Policy, formulated as per the wish of the Constitution, is debated and passed in both Houses, the syllabus, textbooks and textbooks implemented in 2017-18 should be continued for 2024-25.

“With only 10 days left for schools to open, the government should treat the issue of education as a matter of utmost urgency and take all kinds of emergency measures, considering them as an immediate priority and later priorities,” he pointed out.

“The process of recruitment of 15 thousand teachers should be completed in the state and guest teachers should be appointed by June 15. Steps should be taken to get students’ textbooks, shoes, uniforms and bus passes on time and 20 per cent of the state budget should be earmarked for education,” he requested.

The recruitment of teachers, which has been stagnant for the last several years, has completely derailed the learning of children. The number of vacancies in the state for the year 2021-22 is around 1,41,358. Of these, the process of recruiting 13,352 teachers is underway and urgent action is being taken to ensure they are in schools before the school starts, he demanded.