Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Supreme Court appoints panel to examine Samacheer Kalvi issue

The Supreme Court on Tuesday appointed an expert panel to examine the syllabus/textbooks for over 2 crore school children in Tamil Nadu sought to be altered by the Jayalalithaa government.

A bench of justices B.S. Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar, however, said the Samacheer Kalvi Thittam (uniform system of school education) would continue to be implemented for Class I and VI during the present academic session.

The Supreme Court said the expert panel to be headed by the State Chief Secretary would submit its report within three weeks to the Madras High Court which would pass appropriate orders.

It said “decisions taken administratively or through legislative measures and such changes emerging with political change or wisdom of legislature should have a paramount consideration” for the interests of the student community.

The bench passed the order on an appeal filed by Tamil Nadu government challenging a Madras High Court order directing the State to continue with implementation of the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act.

The Act introduced in 2010-2011 by the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government had introduced a common curriculum for schoolchildren till Class X.

Prior to introduction of the Act, Tamil Nadu had different streams like Matriculation, State Board, Oriental and Anglo-Indian. But by the 2010 Act, a common curriculum was introduced.

However, the Jayalalithaa government, immediately after assuming power, has introduced Section 3 in the Act on May 22 to keep in abeyance implementation of the Act on the ground that several text books had controversial chapters.

The Madras High Court had, however, asked the State to implement the Act since the government had reportedly spent Rs. 200 crore for printing about 9 crore text books.

Apart from the Chief Secretary, other members of the panel would comprise two State represenatives with expertise in education, two from the NCERT, two academcians of eminence, State Education Secretary and Director School Education, Tamil Nadu.

The Supreme Court passed the direction after hearing arguments put forward by senior counsel P.P. Rao, Rajiv Datta and Guru Krishna Kumar for the State and senior counsel A.K. Ganguly, M.N. Krishnamani and Harish Kumar for various educational institutions and groups opposed to the government’s move.

The bench rejected submissions of Mr. Ganguly and others that the State had acted in haste as within a single day on May 22 it swiftly introduced the Bill in the State Assembly for amending the Act and on the same day obtained the Govenor’s assent.

“You cannot object to it. That shows they are efficient. Parliament has its own powers to legislate, we cannot interfere with such things,” the bench remarked.

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