07/31/2020, 14.54
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Karnataka government tries to remove Islam and Christianity from school curriculum

by Nirmala Carvalho

Following an outcry against the proposal, the State’s Education Department issued a statement on Thursday, saying that “the decision to drop certain chapters has been put on hold. A review will be done, following which the deleted chapters will be uploaded to the website”.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The BJP-led Government of Karnataka has put on hold a controversial proposal to drop certain chapters from social science textbooks to trim the 2020-21 curriculum for Grades 1 to 10 students. The sections to be removed covered Islam, Christianity, Tipu Sultan and his father, Hyder Ali.

State authorities had initially decided to cut the 2020-21 syllabus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapters on the Constitution, Islam and Christianity were left out of school curricula, various media reported.

The rationale behind the move was that students would study these topics in Grade 9 anyway. However, media reports noted that Grade 9 teachers were asked to briefly summarise these topics since the syllabus erroneously claims that students already studied them in Grade 6.

Speaking about the matter, Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore told AsiaNews that "India is a secular country blessed with a multi-religious heritage of tolerance and harmony. No other country can boast such a rich and interfaith fabric and traditions, which are best taught when children are young and innocent.”

"To do away with lessons on Islam and Christianity from the school syllabus may not only keep them [students] ignorant of the positive values ​​of these religions, but also infuse them with feelings of indifference, distrust and hostility,” said the prelate.

“Ushering in such major policy changes by the government in this sad season of COVID without much public discussion also smacks of a pre-fabricated agenda,” he added.

“I hope the syllabus committee will undo the damage and restore the lessons on Islam and Christianity in the school standards as before, for a complete holistic education of the child.

“The Government speaks of ‘Made in India’ and the best thing we have from ‘Made in India’ is the tolerance we have due to having so many religions. Diversity among us is a great value to be edified by others.”

After the outcry, the State’s Department of Public Instruction on Thursday released a statement by S Suresh Kumar, Karnataka’s Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.

On his instruction, “the decision to drop certain chapters has been put on hold. A review will be done following which the deleted chapters will be uploaded to the website," the note said.

Earlier in the day, Kumar had issued another statement, saying that the decision to shorten the syllabus had not been finalised, making it clear that his department would not remove chapters unnecessarily.

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