Published: 23rd February 2021
DAV Question Paper Controversy: Alumni call question ‘inappropriate’, ‘disappointing’ in letter to school
The alumni reminded the school of the ten principles of the Arya Samaj which is etched in stone in the school campus
After a question paper for students of DAV School, Gopalapuram went viral on social media for its controversial question on farmers protests, the alumni are now coming together to show their disapproval and disappointment with the question. Members of the alumni have penned a letter to the school and are encouraging those who feel the same way to become signatories. The alumni said that the question had shown the school in poor light.
“We are alumni of DAV Gopalapuram and would like to express our disappointment at such an inappropriate question being included in a class 10 question paper. An educational institution and its students (present and former) share an indelible bond and the actions of each continue to reflect on the other. A question like this shows many in poor light - not just the decision-makers involved, but also by association, the large number of former students who call DAV their alma mater,” the alumni wrote in their letter.
The alumni said that this raised concerns about the core values and mindsets of the students. They reminded the school of the ten principles of the Arya Samaj which is etched in stone in the school campus. “We call upon all of you to ponder these principles and contrast the thoughts and ideals espoused therein on one hand, with the choice of words and their import in the question in the English paper on the other. Principle five of the Arya Samaj urges one to delve into an understanding of right and wrong before acting. In keeping with this, would it not have been appropriate to provide information in the question that allowed for students to build and present their own independent points of view on the ideas of democracy, dissent, individuals interacting with the government, the violence that occurred or the larger protests themselves?” the alumni wrote.
They criticised the wording of the question for forcing an idea on the students, “The wording of the question left no doubt as to where the school stood on the issue – but, is it the school’s role to think on behalf of the students? Or is it to facilitate the students’ growth by providing them the tools and frameworks necessary for original thought?” they questioned.
The Arya Samaj principles are driven by love and benevolence, the DAV alumni reminded, “Sadly, the choice of words used as descriptors (‘violent maniacs’ for instance) in the question could not have been further from this. What better way to achieve this than to instill in a student the spirit of inquiry? Is it not the role of the school to encourage them to question what they see around them and to seek answers to questions? We request you to consider a simple thought exercise. Had a young Mool Shankar Tiwari studied in DAV, would he have challenged the then-existing conventions of idol worship upon seeing a mouse crawl over an idol?”
“The school must aid a student in this journey from darkness to light by fostering a spirit of enquiry, by allowing for the growth of critical thinking and most importantly, inculcating a habit of listening to multiple viewpoints and sources of information to underpin that critical thought. Unfortunately, this letter-writing exercise turned out to be a highly editorialized polemic against one group of individuals, exhorting the student to take on a specific stance, with no actual room for any individual thought,” the letter read. The alumni urged the administration to ‘openly talk’ about the issue, “We trust that the management, executives and Board take this opportunity to openly talk about this issue, review whether the institution’s actions fully reflect the motto as well as the founding principles and improve upon their actions.”