Ground Report | New Delhi: Diversity curriculum in schools; Education gives people the liberty to have the right comprehension of society and social structure. It gives people a vision to look beyond their imagination and to make their dreams a reality. As schools are considered to be the backbone of society, it is important for them to promote inclusion, equality, equity and diversity through education.
Schools need a diverse curriculum simply because if it starts from the foundational entity (schools), then issues like stereotypes, race, colour, religion can be curbed at the most appropriate times. It will build acceptance, respect and understanding for different sections in societies and cultures.
As researchers, note in their report on how racially diverse schools and classrooms can benefit all students, support for school integration is “a need for curriculum and accountability approaches.”
Diversity curriculum in schools
The diversifying of the curriculum will make it more inclusive, as there will be more representation of different cultures and marginalised backgrounds. It can change a lot of narratives that have dominated the thought process of people over the years. It will break all the prejudices and biases one community holds for others.
In schools, a new brood of leaders are being moulded, so it is imperative for them to be well aware of the issues that various sections of society face. It would not only give them options but also broaden their vision and help them to learn and develop profoundly.
Students who have studied a diverse curriculum in school are of the opinion that they learnt about the concept of universal brotherhood by reading about different religions, cultures, and various personalities and their contribution to varied fields, through their academic books. It has made them culturally self-aware, made them more open for a conversation with people from other cultures and appreciative and emphatic to a wide range of identity characteristics like ethnicity, gender, language, religion etc.
The Current Scenario in India
Central Board of School Education (CBSE) recently reduced 30% of the syllabus in secondary classes, which included chapters on diversity, which according to some were necessary for students to learn more about society and cultures. A column “Lack of Rationale” published in The Hindu (2020) by Albert P Rayan widely criticised the decision of scraping the topics.
Rayan stressed the importance of a diverse curriculum and its role in developing a conceptive perception in a multicultural, multi-religious and multilingual society like India. He also said that how it was not a “wise decision” on the government’s part. Rayan mentioned in his column that the curriculum should be designed without any “political interference”.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi, launched a “Deshbhakhti curriculum” for Delhi government schools on 28 September 2021, with the hope of generating “true patriots”, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the curriculum will be released for nursery to class 12. It is pertinent to mention here that decisions like these will make students more exclusive and they will not have the right comprehension of diversity in the truest sense.
According to a circular issued last week by the Directorate of Education (DOE), “Each patriotic period will begin with a five-minute ‘patriotic meditation’ where teachers and students will practice mindfulness, their gratitude to the country, freedom fighters and any five individuals.” Whom they consider being patriots, and pledge their respect for the country.”
In a country like India which is home to diverse cultures, ethnicities, races and religions, it becomes necessary to develop a more diverse curriculum. Many educators believe that a diverse curriculum will cover certain factors like complexity of culture, diversity in the knowledge market, a clear acceptance of heterogeneous groups and diverse enrollment. They believe India is in need of a more flexible, diverse and dynamic curriculum, as people cannot stick to a “closed and compact curriculum”. But what is pertinent to mention here is that “implementation” is where the country is lacking the most.
If a diverse curriculum is introduced and implemented, many of the current global issues can be overcome to a considerable extent. A diverse curriculum needs to be implemented not just at the school level, but at the higher education level, workplaces, and religious gatherings as well. To make it just a course or degree will be useless, it should help in serving the bigger goals, which includes a society where all the people are treated and respected equally, where a sense of tolerance, security and belonging prevails, where “Unity in Diversity” becomes the goal in the classroom.
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