Rationalization of NCERT Textbooks: Addressing Misinformation and Ensuring Educational Reforms

Rationalization of NCERT Textbooks: Addressing Misinformation and Ensuring Educational Reforms
Posted on 13-06-2023

Rationalization of NCERT Textbooks: Addressing Misinformation and Ensuring Educational Reforms


Recently, there has been a wave of controversy surrounding the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in India, specifically regarding the alleged removal of topics such as the theory of evolution and the periodic table from science textbooks. This misinformation spread rapidly and gained global attention, raising concerns about the country's education system. It is essential to delve into the facts and provide a comprehensive perspective on the rationalization of NCERT textbooks, addressing the rationale behind the process and dispelling the conspiracy theories surrounding it.


Rationalization of NCERT Textbooks:

The NCERT is responsible for the rationalization of textbooks across all classes and subjects, aiming to ensure the quality and relevance of educational content. The process of rationalization involves several criteria, including:

  1. Overlaps with similar content: Avoiding redundancy by eliminating content that overlaps with similar topics covered in other subjects within the same class.

  2. Similar content in different classes: Eliminating repetitive content that appears in lower or higher classes to streamline the curriculum.

  3. Level of difficulty: Adjusting the difficulty level of the content to suit the cognitive abilities of the students in each class.

  4. Self-learning and peer-learning: Including easily accessible content that can be comprehended without excessive assistance from teachers, promoting self-study and collaborative learning.

  5. Relevance: Assessing the relevance of content in the present context, ensuring that the curriculum reflects changing realities and societal needs.


Rationale Behind Textbook Rationalization:

  1. Regular Process: The updating of textbooks is a regular process, and revisions are not arbitrary. The NCERT periodically incorporates new content, including topics related to information technology and computers, to keep up with advancements in education.

  2. Reflecting Changing Realities: The rationalization process aligns textbooks with reforms in the country's educational system, accommodating changes in pedagogy, curriculum design, and assessment methods.

  3. NEP 2020 Compliance: The rationalization aligns with the criteria outlined in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which emphasizes reducing content load and promoting experimental learning with a creative mindset.

  4. Pandemic Impact: The rationalization process seeks to address the adverse effects of the pandemic on the educational system. The significant loss of teaching time during the pandemic led to gaps in learning, and reducing content load aims to alleviate the burden on students' mental health.


Motivation Behind Current Rationalization of Textbooks:

The motivation behind the ongoing rationalization process can be attributed to two key factors:

  1. NEP 2020 Compliance: The NEP 2020 advocates for reducing the content load and promoting a holistic approach to education. By aligning with the NEP, the rationalization process aims to create a conducive environment for students' overall development.
  2. Mitigating Pandemic Effects: The pandemic disrupted the education sector, resulting in a significant loss of teaching time and compromised learning outcomes. The rationalization process intends to expedite the recovery in the learning continuum and compensate for the time lost during the pandemic.


Understanding the Controversy:

The controversy surrounding the NCERT rationalization process is primarily fueled by misinformation and confusion. Critics argue that certain topics, such as the theory of evolution and the periodic table, were removed without being mentioned in the official notification of the rationalization process. However, it is crucial to provide the correct perspective and clarify that these topics have not been completely removed but have undergone reassignment within the curriculum. For instance, the periodic table has been relocated to Unit 3 in the Class 11 textbook, while Darwin's theory of evolution is covered in great detail in chapter 6 of the Class 12 textbook.


Reprinting and Revision Process:

It is important to note that minor deletions or changes are not explicitly notified during the reprinting process to avoid unnecessary confusion. The textbooks are revised regularly by the Textbook Development Committee, established in 2005. This committee, in line with the 2005 National Curriculum Framework (NCF), develops the syllabus and proposes changes to the textbooks. The proposed changes are reviewed by the Textbook Committee, which carefully analyzes and recommends them. Reprinting textbooks to incorporate suggestions from stakeholders is a recurring practice that occurs every year, ensuring a continuous improvement process.


Past Controversies and Learnings:

The recent controversy surrounding the NCERT rationalization process is not an isolated incident. Similar controversies have emerged in the past, highlighting the sensitivity of educational content and the need for effective communication. For instance:

  1. 1978-79 History Books Controversy: During Prime Minister Morarji Desai's tenure, controversies arose over revising the contents of history books, which sparked significant political debates.
  2. 2006 Sikhism Chapter Controversy: Under the UPA government, a chapter on Sikhism had to be changed due to widespread controversy surrounding its content.
  3. 2012 Medieval Paintings Controversy: The Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Mosque demanded the removal of two medieval paintings from history textbooks, arguing that their inclusion violated Sharia Law.



The recent controversy surrounding the rationalization of NCERT textbooks underscores the importance of countering misinformation and promoting factual information. It is crucial to understand that the rationalization process aims to align with the NEP 2020, reduce content load, and address the educational challenges posed by the pandemic. The reassignment of certain topics, such as the theory of evolution and the periodic table, within the curriculum is a regular practice during the reprinting process. Furthermore, past controversies surrounding educational content serve as valuable lessons, emphasizing the need for effective communication and sensitivity when revising and updating textbooks. By dispelling misinformation and providing accurate information, we can ensure a more informed and constructive discourse on educational reforms.

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