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Should religion be excluded from the school curriculum? Gujarat Government’s Inclusion of Bhagavad Gita Draws Mixed Responses

The Government of Gujarat announced on Thursday March 17 the introduction of Shrimad Bhagwad Gita into the curriculum of all public schools in grades 6 to 12. Gujarat Education Minister Jitu Vaghani made the announcement to the Assembly during the discussion on the education budget and said that this is part of the implementation of the National Education Policy, 2020.

Regarding the decision to incorporate the Bhagwad Gita into the curriculum for the new June academic session, the government resolution states: “School education shall include Indian culture and knowledge system…in the first phase, the values ​​and principles of the Bhagavad Gita will be incorporated into state public schools from grade 6 to 12 in a way that they are able to understand and generate interest in them.”

As per the rules drafted as part of the notification, the Bhagavad Gita will be introduced in the form of narration and recitation, which will also be assessed, in grade 6-8, The Indian Express reported.

Storytelling and recitation will also be part of school assemblies. In addition, extra-curricular activities on the text such as debates, plays, essay writing, quizzes and drawings will be introduced in public primary and secondary schools.

Congress and AAP welcome move

Both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi party welcomed the decision to include the Bhagavad Gita in schools.

Reacting to the decision, Gujarat Congress Spokesperson Hemang Raval said, “We welcome the decision to include the Bhagavad Gita in the curriculum, but the state government must also first learn of Gita, India Today reported.

“The book makes it clear that to deal with any situation, you must first accept it. What is the current status of education in Gujarat? Out of a total of 33,000 schools, only 14 schools are A-plus level schools. are vacant and 6,000 schools are closed. ” he said.

Raval added that Gujarat has the highest number of school dropouts and many students cannot even read and write until grade 8. He hopes the government will do something for these students. “We welcome the inclusion of Bhagavad Gita in schools but which we learn from childhood,” he said.

Gujarat AAP Spokesperson Yogesh Jadvani while welcoming the decision of the state government said, “We welcome the decision taken by the government of Gujarat. This will benefit the students.

While Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Education, Manish Sisodia, hailed the move, he said the acts of the Gujarat government were like Raavan and talking about Gita. “It’s certainly a big step forward, but the people who introduce it must first practice the values ​​of Gita. Their deeds are like Raavan’s and they talk about Gita,” he said. .

Karnataka Education Minister BC Nagesh has said Bhagavad Gita is not just for Hindus, and if experts suggest, the government will also introduce it to schools in the southern state from next year.

Others question the decision

While the Gujarat government said the decision was to introduce school children to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita under the new Education Policy-2020, scholars and legal experts are questioning the decision to include only Hinduism-specific scriptures with 700 verses in the syllabus. They ask if minority students, whether Muslim, Christian or Parsi, will be allowed to learn their religious scriptures like the Quran, the Bible or the Avesta to name a few.

Jesuit activist Fr Cedric Prakash called the decision “shock but not totally unexpected” and called for it to be reconsidered. “The study of any religious or sacred book should be welcomed by all and at all times. However, the introduction of the study of the Bhagavad Gita alone in public schools smacks of majoritarianism violating the secular fabric of the country and a another step towards the creation of the ‘Hindutva’ Rashtra,” he said in a statement.

The Gujarat government’s decision to include the Bhagavad Gita comes at a time when the petition regarding the wearing of hijab in educational institutions as a means of religious practice has reached the Supreme Court.

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