Over the past few weeks, newspapers all over India have been blaring with big advertisements about the Delhi government’s mission to introduce a new “deshbhakti” curriculum in government schools. Apparently, this was to ‘instil patriotism among students and inspire them to feel proud of their nation’. Evidently, Delhi’s taxpayers are paying for their government’s desire to advertise this achievement about a new ‘deshbhakti’ curriculum to the rest of the country.
What do parents of children that attend Delhi’s government schools feel about this new “deshbhakti” curriculum? This is what Prashnam decided to find out this week.
We asked 300 households across 38 assembly constituencies in Delhi that have children studying in government schools one question:
What is your opinion on the “deshbhakti” curriculum introduced in schools for your children?
- Teaching deshbhakti along with other subjects is good and welcome
- Schools should not be politicised with such things and should only teach standard subjects
- No opinion
Overwhelming majority approve of the deshbhakti curriculum
Eighty-four per cent of family members surveyed approved of their children being taught new “deshbhakti” curriculum in government schools. Perhaps this is not a surprise to the officials of the Delhi government and members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had first announced the plan to introduce this curriculum in 2019, on the eve of the Independence Day. His government was of the view that this curriculum would be taught in conjunction with the ‘happiness’ curriculum and ‘entrepreneurship mindset’ curriculum. Besides instilling feelings of patriotism and pride, Kejriwal had said the ‘deshbhakti’ curriculum was also intended to make children “aware of their responsibility and duty towards the country.”
Keeping with the announcement, the curriculum began to be taught in Delhi government schools from 28 September, to coincide with freedom fighter Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary. There will be one period of patriotism studies every day for students of Nursery till Class 8, and two periods a week on non-consecutive days for students of Class 9-12, as per the government circular.
One does not know if pedagogy experts were consulted when outlining the curriculum, and if they were, whether they approved of this change. One also does not know if this will indeed produce better citizens out of students who will study the curriculum.
As of now, this is merely a popular move that seems to have struck a chord among the middle classes of Delhi. But as historian Niall Fergusson said, “If religion is opium of the masses, nationalism is cocaine of bourgeoisie”.
Prashnam, in keeping with its principles of transparency and integrity, makes available the entire raw data of this survey here for analysts and researchers to verify and analyse further.
Rajesh Jain is founder, Prashnam, an AI technology start-up that aims to make opinion gathering more scientific, easy, fast, and affordable. He tweets @rajeshjain. Views are personal.
The article is part of ThePrint-Prashnam Vox Pop series.
(Edited by Prashant)