By DP Bhattacharya, ET Bureau | 26 Jul, 2014,
Other measures are CCTV cameras in classrooms and penalties when a teacher uses a mobile phone too many times in the class if an outright ban on the devices isn’t feasible.
AHMEDABAD: While Narendra Modi kept saffron ideologues at bay for the most part in Gujarat when it came to governance, his successor as chief minister,Anandiben Patel, seems to be going all out to woo the Sangh. And the impact is showing up in the education sector, with the recent move to introduce new texts being one example.
More changes could be on the way. School teachers may be banned from wearing jeans and T-shirts to work as recommended by a panel formed to recommend primary education reforms.
It may also become compulsory for women teachers to wear a salwar kameez or a sari, according to these proposals. Among other measures, the committee wants CCTV cameras in classrooms and penalties when a teacher uses a mobile phone too many times in the class if an outright ban on the devices isn’t feasible.
“We are talking about the most impressionable age group,” said Jagdish Bhavsar, head of the committee, referring to the dress code recommendation. “Agar achhe sanskaar is umar mein nahi milenge to kaise hoga? (If good values can’t be imparted at this age then what will happen?)”
Educationists, opposition cry foul over suggestions
As for mobile phones, Bhavsar said many schools already ask teachers to put their phones away at the beginning of classes.
“Ringing of mobiles distracts students and we have suggested that a principal may take some punitive action against a teacher caught using mobile more than once during school hours,” he said.This comes as the state government recently issued a circular directing primary and secondary schools run by the government to include books written by educational activist Dinanath Batra in the curriculum.
Batra gained prominence recently after the organisation that he heads, Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, forced Penguin to withdraw American historian Wendy Doniger’s book ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ on the grounds that it was derogatory in nature.Educationists and the Opposition have criticised the recent developments in Gujarat. Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said the moves are part of a well-planned strategy.
“This is a part of a larger conspiracy of homogenising education, something that we have been consistently fighting against for a decade now,” Doshi said. He added the incumbent government appears determined to inject strong saffron values in the educational system and that there is a conscious effort by the chief minister to enhance her acceptability within the Sangh through these efforts.
“Recently, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was in town and met the vice-chancellors of various universities,” Doshi said. “Now, what would explain such a meeting other than the fact that they are trying to inject their values even in higher education?”Vidyut Joshi, former vice-chancellor of Bhavnagar University and professor emeritus of Nirma University, isn’t surprised by what’s happening.”
Surely there is a steady sort of schooling in Hinduism that is happening in Gujarat,” said Joshi. “But there is nothing new, things like these were happening earlier as well, albeit subtly. As a matter of fact, the selection of vice-chancellors in the state has always been dependent on the political affiliation of the candidate rather than his academic prowess.” He added: “We have seen more pronounced developments of a similar nature in Madhya Pradesh. Now these things are spilling over and we shall see these things across India sooner than later.”