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Is the Education ministry making madarsas teach Gita, Ramayana? A fact-check

As the stakeholders have shown interest in incorporating these subjects, NIOS decided to explore the possibilities. Secondly, these subjects are optional. There is no compulsion on any student in madarsa or otherwise to learn these subjects.

On March 2, Ramesh Pokhriyal’ Nishank’, Union Minister of Education, released the study material for Indian Knowledge Tradition courses for the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) in Noida Uttar Pradesh.

NIOS has prepared 15 courses of Indian Knowledge Tradition that include Veda, Yoga, Science, Vocational Skills and Sanskrit language subjects available in Sanskrit, Hindi and English medium at all three levels of the Open Basic Education Program. These courses are equivalent to 3rd, 5th and 8th standards.

While announcing the new subjects in the 2021 curriculum, NIOS chairperson Prof. Saroj Sharma said that NIOS is trying to include students from Gurukul and Madarsas in the mainstream education program. She also noted that NIOS is working with madarsas to introduce modern education for its students who cannot afford regular school.

She further informed that in the recent meetings held with madarsas, the stakeholders had shown interest in introducing Indian Knowledge Tradition as subjects in madarsas. She said that initially, NIOS is planning to offer these subjects under OBE Program in 100 madarsas and in future it will be expanded further to 500 madarsas.

It has to be noted that NIOS is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education. There are some speculations that the Ministry of Education is trying to force these subjects that include Vedas, Ramayana and other Hindu Scriptures in madarsas which is not true. As the stakeholders have shown interest in incorporating these subjects, NIOS decided to explore the possibilities. Secondly, these subjects are optional. There is no compulsion on any student in madarsa or otherwise to learn these subjects.

Is the education ministry ‘imposing’ these courses on madarsas?

Several news agencies like the Times of India picked up the news but distorted several facts. For example, they did not mention that the stakeholders had shown interest in the subjects. Following the news reports, there were some claims on social media that the government is imposing madarsa students learn Hindu religious teachings.

imposing

Following the emerging controversy, NIOS issued a clarification. It said, “It is clarified herewith that NIOS accredits madrassas under SPQEM (Special provision for quality education of Madrassas). Various subjects are offered to learners under this provision-without any hard-line boundaries of fixed subject combinations unlike that in the formal education system. It is totally the discretion of the learner to opt for subject combination from the bouquet of the subjects provided by NIOS.”

It further added that around 50,000 students from 100 Madarsas are accredited with NIOS. “There are around 100 Madrassas with 50,000 students are accredited with NIOS. Further, there are plans to accredit around 500 more Madrassas with the NIOS in the recent future- totally on the basis of demand of Madrassas,” NIOS said.

NIOS is doing a commendable job in promoting Indian Knowledge Traditions – Pokhriyal

While addressing the attendees, Pokhriyal said that NIOS is doing a commendable job in making efforts to spread the Indian Knowledge Traditions in-country and abroad.

He also informed about the additional courses, including Vedic Studies, Sanskrit grammar, Indian philosophy, Sanskrit literature and Sanskrit language, prepared for Secondary and Senior levels at NIOS. These courses are available in Hindi and Sanskrit language. Experts are translating these subjects in English medium and other major foreign languages so that the Indian culture and knowledge tradition can be taught abroad.

The Minister further added that the course material prepared by NIOS is in sync with the new education policy recently enacted by the central government. The efforts made by NIOS to promote Indian culture, heritage, ancient knowledge and philosophy will prove to be a milestone.

Indian Knowledge Tradition subject details in the latest curriculum

Under OBE, three levels are equivalent to 3rd, 5th and 8th standards. All levels have five subjects that are Veda, Vijnana, Yoga, Sanskrit and Vocational Skills. Under Veda courses, lessons on Ramayan narratives, teachings of Bhagwad Gita, Maheshwara Sutras, Ekatyasastotra, Vedic hymns, Vishnushatranama stotra, the Shikshaavalli, Brahmavalli, Bhriguvalli and Lallishatnama stotra and more are included.

Under Yoga subjects, lessons on Patanjali kritasutra, yoga sutra exercises, Surya namaskars, asanas and activities, pranayama, Yama, niyam, hatha yoga and more are included along with memory-enhancing exercises.

In vocational courses, lessons such as watering plants, cow rearing, cleaning of cowsheds and hygiene, garden care, sowing and harvesting and many others are included.

In Science or Vijnana, lessons such as water, air, vegetation and land conservation in the Vedas, the origin of creation, Panchamabhut, and others are included.

Conclusion

NIOS is an autonomous body that provides distance education, especially to students who cannot afford regular school. It comes under the Ministry of Education. The latest courses under OBE Program include lessons of Ramayana, Gita, Yoga, and more. Though NIOS is introducing these courses in Madarsas, it is being done only after the stakeholders showed interest in these subjects. Moreover, these subjects are optional. It is not mandatory for any madarsa student to study these courses. Thus, speculating that the Ministry of Education is forcing students at Madarsas to learn these subjects is false.

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