The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has raised objections in the Supreme Court against a petition seeking the implementation of a uniform school syllabus and education board across India in a Wrot Petitione Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India WP (c) 6901/2022 . The CBSE argues that a uniform syllabus does not account for the diverse local contexts, cultures, and languages across the country. It advocates for a national framework with room for incorporating local resources, culture, and ethos. The CBSE emphasizes the importance of allowing flexibility in curricula to enable students to relate more closely to their lives outside of school.
Local Context and Cultural Relevance
The CBSE’s opposition to a uniform syllabus underscores the significance of considering the local context and cultural relevance in education. India is a diverse nation with various languages, traditions, and regional identities. A one-size-fits-all approach to education may not effectively cater to the needs and experiences of students from different regions. By preserving diversity in curricula, students can have a more meaningful and relatable educational experience.
Role of National and State Bodies
The CBSE also highlights the roles of various educational bodies in shaping the curriculum. While the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) is designated as the academic authority to frame a national curriculum under the Right to Education Act, states have the autonomy to establish their agencies, such as State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and State Institutes of Education (SIE), to develop their curricula. This reflects the federal structure of education governance in India.
Concurrent List and State Autonomy
Education is a subject in the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution, meaning that both the central and state governments have jurisdiction over it. The majority of schools fall under the purview of state governments, allowing them to determine syllabuses, curricula, and examination processes. State bodies like SCERTs and State Education Boards have the flexibility to either adopt or adapt NCERT’s model syllabi and textbooks or create their own, guided by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF).
Petitioner’s Call for ‘One Nation-One Education Board’
The CBSE’s objections come in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, who advocates for a ‘One Nation-One Education Board’ system. Upadhyay alleges that vested interests in the education sector, including school, coaching, and book mafias, have hindered the implementation of a uniform education system up to the 12thstandard. He contends that such a system would promote fairness and standardization in education across the country.
The CBSE’s opposition to the uniform syllabus and education board underscores the complexities of India’s education landscape. While the idea of a uniform system has its merits, it must be balanced with the need to respect the country’s cultural and regional diversity. The concurrent jurisdiction of central and state governments over education allows for flexibility and adaptation to local needs. The debate surrounding a ‘One Nation-One Education Board’ continues to raise important questions about standardization, diversity, and equity in India’s education system.