Following massive criticism over CBSE decision to drop major topics like citizenship, federalism, secularism etc while reducing curricula for Classes 9 to 12 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” on Thursday said that “false narrative” is being created over exclusion of some chapters.

In a series of tweets, he said these “uninformed commentary resort to sensationalism by connecting topics selectively to portray a false narrative.”

As CBSE has clarified, schools have been advised to follow the NCERT Alternate Academic Calendar, and all the topics mentioned have been covered under the same Academic Calendar, he said in another tweet and added that the exclusions are merely a “one-time measure” for exams, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The minister asserted that the only aim is to relax the stress on students by reducing the syllabus by 30 per cent and claimed that the exercise has been carried out following the advice and recommendations of various experts and considering the suggestions received from educationists through the Syllabus For Students 2020 campaign.

Pokhriyal said that while it is easy to misconstrue exclusion of 3-4 topics like nationalism, local government, federalism, etc. and build a “concocted narrative”, a wider perusal of different subjects will show that this exclusion is happening across subjects.

Giving some examples defending the same, he tweeted, “…The topics excluded in Economics are Measures of Dispersion, Balance of Payments Deficit, etc; topics excluded in Physics are Heat Engine and Refrigerator, Heat Transfer, Convection and Radiation among others.”

“Similarly, some of the excluded topics in Maths are Properties of Determinants, Consistency, Inconsistency, and Number of Solutions of System of Linear Equations by Examples and Binomial Probability Distribution.”

“In Biology, portions of Mineral Nutrition, Digestion and Absorption have been excluded,” the HRD minister said and added that it can be “no one’s argument that these topics have also being excluded by malice or some grand design which only partisan minds can decipher.”

Finally, requesting those criticising the move to leave politics out of education and make politics more educated, Nishank said, “Education is our sacred duty towards our children”.

The CBSE has reduced up to 30 per cent of the syllabus for the 2020-21 academic session for classes 9 to 12 in a bid to decrease the course load for students during the pandemic.

The education board, however, faced criticism for its decision to drop key chapters like Democratic Rights, Federalism, Citizenship and Secularism from school courses.

Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia had on Wednesday expressed reservations over the content of the syllabus reduced by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and emphasised on the need for children to learn them from authentic sources rather than from “WhatsApp University”.

Sisodia said that the education board did not give any reason as to why particular topics or chapters were removed, nor did it explain the process by which the course committee, curriculum committee or its governing body arrived at the decision to remove or include them.

The Education Minister sought to know why chapters on understanding the Partition, democratic rights, food security, gender, religion and caste, popular struggles and movement, federalism, citizenship, nationalism and secularism, social movements and regional aspirations, mass media and communication were removed from the social science syllabus.

“Social Science is one discipline where there is maximum scope of controversy and agree that no matter which topics are chosen or left out, the questions are bound to be raised. Hence the board should have been careful and explained its rationale for dropping certain topics,” he added.

The topics of social science which are dropped are so relevant in contemporary context that it is important that children learn about it through authentic sources rather than through “Whatsapp University”, he scoffed.

He also questioned dropping topics in other subjects such Physics and Mathematics.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also expressed shock over the CBSE decision to drop many topics.

“Shocked to know that the central Government has dropped topics like citizenship, federalism, secularism and partisan in the name of reducing CBSE course during the Covid crisis,” the CM tweeted.

“We strongly object to this and appeal the HRD Ministry to ensure these vital lessons aren’t curtailed at any cost,” Banerjee said.

Following the controversy, CBSE came up with a detailed clarification on Wednesday, stating that topics claimed to be dropped “are either being covered by the rationalised syllabus or in the Alternative Academic Calendar of NCERT”.

The CBSE said it had to come up with the clarification after realizing its decision was “interpreted differently”.

“The rationalisation of syllabus up to 30 per cent has been undertaken by the Board for nearly 190 subjects of class 9 to 12 for the academic session 2020-21 as a one-time measure only. The objective is to reduce the exam stress of students due to the prevailing health emergency situation and prevent learning gaps,” it said.

While it has said that no questions can be asked from the reduced syllabus in the next board exams, the CBSE has also directed schools to follow alternative calendars prepared by the NCERT.

“Therefore each of the topics that have been wrongly mentioned in media as deleted have been covered under Alternative Academic Calendar of NCERT which is already in force for all the affiliated schools of the Board,” it clarified.