Parents and intelligentsia in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district have criticized authorities in the school education department for their failure to check use of text books in schools that promote ‘socio-cultural distortions’ among school going children.
Interestingly, these text books at being taught at various private and government schools across the district.
The aggrieved parents and civil society members said that some English books taught that at various schools for lower primary classes contain such socio-cultural distortions which are not only offensive but can debase children from their cultural and religious moorings.
Parvaiz Ahmad, a resident of Wahibugh village said that he protested before the school management where his son, Saif Ahmad is a student in primary class for teaching classmate series published by impressive educational publishers, New Delhi.
For Parvaiz, the book contains offensive material. “In one Rhyme, “O God”, the parental characterization of God is detrimental to religious beliefs of a Muslim student of a tender age,” he said, adding that teaching a little kid that God is his father will create conflict in his mind.
Parvaiz said that the school management replaced the classmate series with passion series published by Rishabh Publications, Jhalandar after his protest. “The new series too contains same distortions,” he said.
When this reporter brought this issue into the notice of concerned principal he accepted that the English text is flawed. He assured him that they would change the series from next session.
When this reporter surveyed Pulwama market he found a number of such books including Evershine series by Evershine Publishers, New Delhi wherein the content is full with these socio-cultural distortions.
In one series maximum characters have names like Kavita, Vishnu, Avinash and Ankit.
Umar Rashid, a government teacher said that education is the process of leading the child from unknown to known.
“A teacher will like to teach a student names of persons, places and things which are available in his vicinity,” he said, adding that a child will find it difficult to understand abstract knowledge.
He said that the characterization should be local. “The characters are real for a metropolitan city like New Delhi, taken from the surroundings but for a state like Jammu and Kashmir the scenario is different. The books must be modified,” he said.
In another series, Muslims and characters from backward classes have been associated with low profile jobs. In lesson number three, Our Helpers in English text book of classmate series Mr. Ankit is an engineer but Juned is a barber. Mr. Prashant is a police man but Ragu is a potter.
Majaz Maisar Wani, a scholar of sociology said that such a representation is morally downtrodden.
“Whosoever is our helper is a civilized person and cultural traits teach us that they should be respected,” he said.
He said that Ragu or Juned has contributions in nation building but he can’t be ‘Mr.’ highlights the materialistic outlook of the writer.
“Pan Culture doesn’t allow us for such things,” he said, adding that it reveals failure of Jammu and Kashmir board of school education to check teaching of such books in schools.
A senior education official said on conditions of anonymity that despite their strenuous efforts to check such practices they failed before the lobbyism created by private school owners.
“At present there is no checking, I tell you honestly,” he said.