Content quality in new Tamil Nadu textbooks called into question

Unsubstantiated claims while narrating sensitive parts of history, factual errors and spelling mistakes, in textbooks released recently for various classes by the Tamil Nadu government, have cast doubts over whether they have achieved the intended standards.

The sentence formation and language in these textbooks, which are intended to revise the old syllabus, are of poor quality, according to a section of teachers. “There are several spelling mistakes, including wrong usage of similar sounding consonants. The English in the textbooks for English-medium students is bad,” an English teacher pointed out.

While narrating the course of the 1857 revolt for the students of Class VIII, the Science and Social Science textbook, in Page 166 of Term-I, Volume-III for English medium, contends: “The Muslim leaders and Maulvis sought the opportunity of establishing the Muslim rule in India after turning out the British”, without substantiation.

When asked about the contentions made in the textbook, Professor Sucheta Mahajan, Chairperson of the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, said: “This is untrue and is a distortion. Historians should produce evidence when they make such observations.”

M. Sivagurunathan, who teaches Social Science in a school, said: “This will only lead to unnecessary tension among students. This contention should have been published only if there is substantiating evidence [for it].”

There are factual errors, too. Inconsistent with the Class VIII lesson for students that says graphite (crystalline carbon) would conduct electricity, the Science textbook for Class IX students claims (on page 178 for Tamil medium) graphite neither conducts heat nor electricity.

‘Selective prominence’

Another teacher claimed that leaders had been selectively given prominence in the textbooks. While late political leader Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar had been given his caste name along with his name, late freedom fighter and leader V.O. Chidambaram’s caste name was missing (pages between 58 and 66 for Class VII students). “Why this differential treatment to leaders?” he asked.
There are sections where incomplete information has been provided. The Civics lesson in Social Science for Class VII students (Page 210 for Tamil medium) states that Hindi is the official language of India, without noting that English, too, is an official language of the country. “This fact must be underlined for students of Tamil Nadu, which is the epicentre of the anti-Hindi agitation,” he said.
School Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan was not available for comment. B. Valarmathi, Chairperson of the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation, said the organisation was only printing textbooks with content recommended by the Curriculum Committee. A senior official with the State Council of Educational Research and Training said: “Why do these teachers go to the media directly instead of raising these issues with us? If they list out the errors, we could always revise them in the following year.”

Source from The Hindu news paper.
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