Karnataka is known as an educational center nationally. Educational clusters have been created throughout the state. People across the country prefer to study in reputable educational institutions in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Mysuru, Dharwad and Belagavi districts.
However, the controversies around the revisions of the textbooks followed by political fights between the BJP, the Congress and the JD(S), the agitation of the litterateurs, the protests registered by the religious seers against the differential treatment of the great personalities have put the State in the national spotlight. . Experts fear the events have damaged the state’s image as an educational center.
After the hijab controversy, the row over textbook revisions has hit the state’s education sector hard. As the hijab crisis made international headlines, the controversies over textbook revisions have already taken a community turn and seem to be evolving as a major crisis that worries parents and children alike.
Recognized Unaided Private Schools Association (RUPSA) President Lokesh Talikote, speaking to IANS, said the whole textbook review process had completely shattered the image of the state as a educational center.
“Before, there was sanctity and reverence for the textbooks. Universally acceptable chapters were chosen. There were 180 expert members of the textbook review committee earlier. Every subject, every lesson is carefully handled by experts “BJP in power with 9 to 10 Membership committee did the revisions. It is impossible for such a committee to revise 160 to 170 chapters,” he explained.
The ruling BJP government constituted the Textbook Review Committee under the chairmanship of Rohith Chakrathirtha to revise the Kannada textbooks for grades 1 to 10. The committee also revised the social science textbooks for grades 6 to 10.
Opposition leader Siddaramaiah launched a scathing attack on Chakrathirtha. He called him a “troller” and someone with a “perverse mindset”. Siddaramaiah also criticized BC Education Minister Nagesh for supporting Chakrathirtha.
The opposition leader has called for legal action against Chakrathirtha for “insulting” great personalities and martyrs.
Minister Nagesh argues that the opposition and unrest is “due to the inclusion of the speech of RSS founder KB Hedgewar in the program”. He also said that the opposition is also due to “the abandonment of the glorification of Muslim kings”, including Tippu Sultan. The review exercise respects the country’s culture and religion, which are not tolerated by leftist and opposition parties, he said.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced that he would review the lessons on which concerns were raised and ensured rectification. He also announced the dissolution of the textbook review committee headed by Chakrathirtha as its review work is complete.
Nagesh later announced that the revised II PUC (Pre University Colleges) history textbook lesson by the Chakrathirtha committee would not be accepted to appease dissenting voices.
The opposition stepped up their agitation and warned the government that the revised textbooks were not to be distributed to students. Sources explain that if the ruling BJP decides to distribute books, there will be a crisis situation in the state.
RUPSA President Talikote called on private school principals to choose the books of their choice. “Out of 1.6 million children studying in schools in Karnataka between grades 1 and 10, more than 50 lakh children are studying in private institutions and they will not read the revised textbooks,” he says.
“…There is a high demand for private schools. Parents are migrating from public schools to private schools after the curriculum line. About 15 lakh students have joined private schools,” he explained.
SR Raghavendra, Chairman of Forum for Preservation of Human Rights and Eradication of Corruption and Social Activist, in an interview with IANS, accused the ruling BJP of “attempting to falsify what is eternal truth in the educational system”. “He is trying to prove that the education given all those days was a joke,” he claimed.
“If political parties undertake the work of revising textbooks to promote their ideologies, where will it lead? Previously, literati, scholars and researchers decided what children should read. It is sad that now politicians decide the matter,” Raghavendra added.
“If lessons on minorities are dropped, they need to be replaced with better content, which has not happened. The government has not bothered to take the opinions of all sections. The exercise of revision has caused a dent in the emotions of the people of Karnataka and a dent in the process of bringing up children,” he said.
Experts fear that political tussles aside, the whole controversy has led students and the teaching fraternity to look at the textbooks with suspicion. The sanctity and pure, unadulterated spirit of exploring knowledge was lost in the din.
As elections approach, ruling BJP and opposition Congress and JD(S), ‘lost in strategy’, seem unconcerned about impact on brotherhood student and on Karnataka’s image as an educational hub, experts say.
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