A for Arjun, B for Brahma, G for Ganesh, H for Hanuman…That is how the students of Saraswasti Shishu Mandir learn the alphabet. These schools are run by Vidya Bharti — an RSS organisation.
“Ram Pujan is held at 8315 villages in Kerala, in Bengal in another 5516. In which state are more pujas held?” is one question and another is, “If someone reads 110 Ramayan chaupals in a day then in how many days will he complete 12,980?”. These are some questions in Shishu Mandir textbooks.
“Akbar has been criticised for starting Din-e-Illahi and condemned for having non-Muslim wives and non-Muslim courtesans. Hindu kings in general broke agreements and provoked Muslim kings to war”.
This is course material of a book in Jammat-e-Islami taught at madrasahs.
An NGO, Saajhi Duniya, has conducted a study on the textbooks — tainted, anyone? — in non-government schools in the state.
The NGO has made a study of books taught in Saraswati Shishu Mandir, madrasahs under the supervision of mosques and in schools run by the Council of Anglo Indian Schools.
A history book prescribed by Shisu Mandir says: “King Ashok converted to Buddhism. His doctrine of non-violence spread. People started considering hunting, animal sacrifice and even use of weapons as bad. Slowly this led to cowardice in the country.”
And: “Sita was a chaste woman. Find out from the teacher and list five more such chaste women”.
Ms Rooprekha Verma, a former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University and the secretary of the NGO which conducted the study, said: “Many of the text books used by such schools are retrograde. Instead of inculcating modern values it would make the child patriarchal, loaded with caste discrimination, and a sexist individual”.
Saajhi Duniya has observed that the books do not promote scientific spirit, are full of gender bias, give examples of caste identities and hierarchies. In the books mythology intermingled with history and scientific findings with religious faith.
It has pointed out that some of the books in madrasahs encourage an uncritical faith in religion and thereby hamper the questioning power as well as suppress the critical faculties of the students. The report was critical of some of the books taught in Christian missionary schools as well, though in milder terms.