The lies of Director of NCERT exposed
Some of the newspapers have reported today that, in a statement issued by him, Dr. J.S. Rajput, Director of NCERT, has refuted allegations levelled both inside and outside Parliament against the NCERT and the National Curriculum Framework prepared by it, which was released by Murli Manohar Joshi, Union Minister of MHRD, on November 14, 2000.
It had been pointed out by critics including Prof. Arjun Dev, to whom Dr. Rajput has specifically referred, that the justification for preparing a new framework of curriculum by NCERT was the misrepresentation and deliberate distortion of the National Policy of Education (NPE 1986, 1992) and the Programme of Action (POA 1992). He had referred to the NPE statement that ‘the implementation of various parameters of the policy must be reviewed every five years’, and suggested that what was done was required by the NPE. The critics had pointed out that the reference to review ‘every five years’ had nothing to do with the preparation of the new curriculum framework. Dr. Rajput had also (mis)quoted the POA, which had recommended that ‘curricula in various subjects will be examined for any deficiencies and inadequacies and for its moderation’, by deleting the italicized words from this quotation to prove that the POA required the preparation of a new curriculum framework. He had also referred to the preparation of a new curriculum framework as a matter of NCERT honouring ‘its commitment to the nation’, without saying anything about when the ‘nation’ had asked for such a commitment and when the NCERT had made it. The programme to prepare the new framework had not been proposed by any department or body of the NCERT, and the decision in this regard was taken and announced by the NCERT Director without any prior consultation, in a meeting of the heads of departments, within two months of his coming to ‘power’.
Dr. Rajput seems to have forgotten all that he had stated earlier in print in justification of the new curriculum framework. Now he gives all the ‘credit’ for this to Prof. Arjun Dev, then Professor of History and head of NCERT’s Department of Education in Social Sciences and Humanities. According to him, because Prof. Arjun Dev and the department headed by him failed to revise the social science curriculum, he decided to ‘undertake a review of the curriculum framework as it was anyway overdue’. It is true that Prof. Arjun Dev and his department proposed over a period of three years to prepare a revised/new curriculum framework and syllabi in social sciences and languages, in pursuance of the POA’s recommendation for modernisation of subject curricula. However the programme was not pursued for reasons stated in the department’s annual progress reports, notably the faculty members’ preoccupation with other programmes, which Dr. Rajput must have seen. It is important in this context to note that Dr. Rajput’s reference to a comprehensive review of the curriculum framework is completely untrue. Not a line of any such review was ever circulated and in fact no such review was taken up. What was taken up was preparation of what was called a ‘discussion document’, which reproduced large portions from the 1988 curriculum framework without any quotation marks and much less any comments/review, and newly prepared material reflecting ‘new ideas’ which were later reflected in the ‘final document’. When the discussion document was made available to the faculty in January/February 2000, the common joke in the NCERT campus was that ‘a statement was found which was linguistically correct and made some sense in that document, it should be presumed that it had been lifted from the 1988 framework’. It is also relevant to recall that during the entire period from September 1999, when the discussion document began to be prepared, till after November 2000, when the final document was released, a large number of the NCERT’s faculty remained idle because most of the programmes proposed by the faculty had been dropped in anticipation of the new curriculum framework. There was a
gap of over ten months between the release of the discussion document and the final document, and little work was done during this period as most of the programmes proposed by the faculty were in the nature of follow-up of the national curriculum framework.
Some newspapers have refered to Dr. Rajput saying that he had circulated ‘a seed paper’ for discussion in the faculty. The Minister had referred to a ‘chhota parcha’. Neither a ‘seed paper’ nor a ‘chhota parcha’ was ever circulated to the faculty for discussion. Not a single issue, whether of value education or a composite course in social sciences or any other was ever ‘debated’ by the faculty. The curriculum group which prepared the discussion document and the final document did not even refer to two major reports which NCERT had prepared in 1999: one was a status study of the upper primary stage in the country which dealt with many issues related to curriculum issues, and two, a detailed report on value orientation in the NCERT curriculum and textbooks which had been presented to the Justice J.S.Verma committee on fundamental duties and had been included in the second volume of that committee’s report and published by NCERT. Dr. Rajput has alleged that Prof. Dev ‘maintained a mysterious and motivated silence’ while everybody else participated in the allegedly consultative process. Dr. Rajput is perhaps suffering from selective, if not complete, amnesia. NCERT’s academic staff association organised a discussion on the discussion document in which a number of NCERT’s faculty members expressed their critical views on the document. A report of what was said by who was sent by the association to the Director. This report included what Prof. Dev had to say on the discussion document. On another occasion, a meeting of the department’s faculty chaired by the Director was held, in which many members of the faculty expressed their views. Prof. Dev spoke in this meeting and pointed out that any exercise for preparing a new curriculum framework must be based on the preparation of a status note on the implementation of the existing curriculum throughout the country, a critique of the existing curriculum framework, formulation of new areas and issues that need to be discussed, etc. As none of this had been done, the document was not a discussion document. Interestingly, both at the meeting of the association and the meeting chaired by the Director, not a single member of the curriculum group or the Director himself said a word in response to the criticisms that had been made by the members of the faculty. They maintained a stoic silence. This was how the ‘debate’ on the curriculum was conducted. The same process was followed in the various workshops/seminars which NCERT organised on the discussion document. Participants raised questions but there was no response from those who had framed the framework. They are supposed to have taken notes on what was said. They seem to have made little use of what was said in this meeting/workshop. In any case, no issue was discussed or debated which involved argument and counter-argument leading to some sort of a consensus.
Dr. Rajput as well as the Minister, in his Lok Sabha speech, have mentioned that the discussion document and the final document had been sent to a very large number of people and that a ‘level of transparency’ in consultation has been received, which means that the ‘nation’ has approved it. He claims to have evidence that the entire student and school academic communities were ‘fully behind’ it. Before making such claims, Dr. Rajput should ask his PRO or the librarian to show him the voluminous file of press clippings of reports and articles on the discussion document and the final document. He would have found that except for mainly his own articles, there were few reports and articles which were not in the nature of ‘negative responses’.
Dr. Rajput is quite happy in the belief that the ‘nation’ is with him except for ‘the leftists’. In fact, there are few takers of his curriculum framework in the country and even the non-BJP ‘rightists’ are not happy with it.
Statement by Arjun Dev