“There are state boards everywhere”, says Delhi HC in response to PIL seeking common syllabus in all schools

Alleging resistance from the "school mafia", "coaching mafia", and "book mafia", the petitioner urged for a unified education system
Delhi High Court | (Credit:Express)
Delhi High Court | (Credit:Express)

The Delhi High Court, on Monday, December 11, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a common syllabus in all schools, questioned the feasibility due to diverse state boards, reports PTI. The bench, led by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna, acknowledged the challenge posed by different state boards.

"How can we do this? There are state boards everywhere," the bench said. 

Petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay emphasised equal opportunity, comparing it to unified entrance exams like the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). "They (entrance exams) have one paper and one syllabus for all, then why different curriculum in schools," he submitted.

The court, responding to the petitioner's plea, included the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and granted a three-week response time. The court listed the matter for further hearing in May.

The petitioner argued that varied syllabi (Central Board of Secondary Education - CBSE,  Indian Certificate of Secondary Education - ICSE, and state boards) contradicted constitutional articles and the Right to Education. The petition stressed the uniformity in entrance exams while highlighting disparities in school curricula.

"Syllabus and curriculum is common for all entrance examinations viz JEE, BITSAT, NEET, MAT, NET, NDA, CU-CET, CLAT, AILET, SET, KVPY, NEST, PO, SCRA, NIFT, AIEED, NATA, CEPT etc," the petition has said.

"But the syllabus and curriculum of CBSE, ICSE and state board is totally different. Thus, students don't get equal opportunity in the spirit of Articles 14-16," it added.

The petitioner advocated for a common syllabus in the mother tongue, aiming to foster a common culture, eliminate disparity, and enhance overall quality of life. Alleging resistance from the "school mafia", "coaching mafia", and "book mafia", the petitioner urged for a unified education system.

The petitioner alleged that the "school mafia don't want One Nation-One Education Board, coaching mafia don't want One Nation-One Syllabus and book mafia don't want NCERT books in all schools".

Earlier, the CBSE, in its counter affidavit, had told the court that multiplicity of curricula and resources in addition to a "core element" was desirable as a uniform board or syllabus across the country did not take into account the local culture, context and language.

The CBSE clarified its adherence to NCERT's guidelines for syllabi and textbooks, aligning with the National Policy on Education. The court scheduled further hearings in May, considering the complexities surrounding a common syllabus amidst the diversity of state education boards.

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