If you spot the neighbour’s son frantically searching for ‘Silicon Valley’ in the map of USA, don’t be amused. He probably goes to a government school where his Geography text book identifies Silicon Valley as a namesake city.
A Schoolbag of Biases published in the Outlook magazine reports how textbooks published by school education boards acrossIndia are fraught with serious factual errors.
Like political influence on government textbooks is old news in this country, with the latest being Mamata Banerjee’s alleged demand of omitting chapters on Marx and Engels from high school history books, errors in facts is something that has been brought up repeatedly but has been hardly addressed with conviction.
Debarshi Dasgupta of the Outlook says, “Amidst all the brouhaha over the Ambedkar cartoon in a school textbook, the need for reviewing textbooks, especially those at the states, has been conveniently glossed over.”
The report reiterates what many have known for long – the lack of a proper reviewing system of government text books at times subject students to wrong, at times controversial information and comes with the rosk of keeping them a step behind students from expensive private schools with elaborate curriculum and well-designed books.
“This problem was raised even in Parliament by AIADMK MP S. Semmalai when the cartoon controversy was at its shrillest, but it was immediately forgotten by our lawmakers, who kept themselves busy with the self-appointed task of purging cartoons from our textbooks,” says Dasgupta.
While the NCERT is embroiled in a tussle with a section of the political class over the necessity of cartoons in school text books, the Education Observer reports how dozens of factual errors have been found in their text books.
A Times of India report dated July 31, 2010 report how untrained translators have resulted in the introduction of hundreds of errors in school textbooks in Chennai. A problem that probably persists in government books acrossIndia. Given that government textbooks come at cheaper rates, there are apprehensions that not much thought and money goes into hiring quality writers for them.
So, if someone thinks that Vivekananda was a great personality because he was ‘a Brahmin and fair’ blame it on a hastily written history book in school!