Social Science Learning in Schools: Perspective and Challenges


Edited by: Poonam Batra

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    List of Tables

    • 2.1: List of Schools that Participated in the SASHIKA Programme in Madhya Pradesh 60
    • 2.2: Role and Function of Agencies Associated with the SASHIKA Programme of Eklavya 62
    • 3.1: List of Chapters in the Civics Texts of Eklavya's SASHIKA Programme 109
    • 4.1: List of Chapters in the Geography Texts of Eklavya's SASHIKA Programme 129
    • 5.1: List of Chapters in the History Texts of Eklavya's SASHIKA Programme 156
    • 6.1: Framework used for Analyzing the Social Science Textbooks 212
    • 6.2: Percentage of Activities in Each of the Categories for Each Subject Area for All Three Grades 244

    List of Figures

    • 2.1: Maanchitra 1: Asoka Ke Samay Mein Bharat 79
    • 5.1: Ye Log Kya-Kya Chitra Banate The? Tum Khud Dekhkar Batao 158
    • 5.2: Boma and Goma being Chased by a Wild Dog 159
    • 5.3: Boma and Goma Discover Seedlings 160
    • 5.4: Jhund Mein Salah Mashvahra “Karmi Ke Sath Kya Karen?” 166
    • 5.5: Maanchitra 2: Pashupalak Aryon Ke Samay Mein Bharat 168
    • 5.6: Maanchitra 3: Teen Hazar Saal Pehle Chhote Janpad 169
    • 5.7: Ek Purana Sheher—Siyadoni 175
    • 6.1: Ancient Hieroglyphic Text 232
    • 6.2: Maanchitra 2: Indonesia Ke Utpaadan 241
    • 6.3: Maanchitra 1: England Se Zimbabwe 242

    List of Abbreviations

    BJPBharatiya Janata Party
    DEODistrict Education Officer
    DPEPDistrict Primary Education Programme
    DSTDepartment of Science and Technology, Government of India
    HSTPHoshangabad Science Teaching Programme
    MHRDMinistry of Human Resource Development
    MLAMember of Legislative Assembly
    MPTBCMadhya Pradesh Textbook Corporation
    NCERTNational Council for Educational Research and Training, New Delhi
    NCESENational Curriculum for Elementary and Secondary Education, 1988
    NCFNational Curriculum Framework, 2005
    NCLBNo Child Left Behind
    NCSENational Curriculum for School Education, 2000
    NCSSNational Council for the Social Studies, Washington
    NCTENational Council for Teacher Education
    NFG-TSSNational Focus Group-Teaching of Social Sciences
    NGONon-governmental Organisation
    PROBEPublic Report on Basic Education
    PRIPanchayati Raj Institutions
    SCERTState Council for Educational Research and Training
    SASHIKASamajik Adhyayan Shikshan Karyakram (Eklavya's social science programme)
    UNESCOUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
    USAUnited States of America


    This book is an analysis of the teaching, curriculum and textbooks in social sciences used in the Eklavya programme. It is highly commendable that such an exercise was undertaken with the possibility of both a critique and a justification as and when required. Such analyses need to be done more frequently in institutions concerned with teaching in schools.

    There was a time when subjects like history, geography, civics, and anthropology were treated as separate kinds of knowledge. Up to a point such a position is valid since the primary data of each differed, ranging from records of the past, physical landscapes, to institutions and forms of societies. The most significant aspect of such subjects has been the human interaction with the data. Eventually, this is what ties the subjects into the perspective of the social sciences. This perspective of why and how activities are integrated is absent in most of our school level textbooks.

    Looking at the suggested treatment of history, I am impressed by the attempt in the examples given to relate our notions of past events to varieties of data. This not only brings the past alive but also draws into the argument the activities of people. Matters pertaining to religion and orthodoxy are not given maximum space, as is so often the case in textbooks on the Indian past, but are treated as part of the balance between different aspects of life.

    We do not always appreciate the fact that Indian society was constituted of many cultures. Textbooks that draw in the peoples and practices of varying kinds come closer to projecting Indian civilization as it actually was.

    At one level, learning is a process of acquiring information. But information has to be continually upgraded. Sometimes the evidence is new and can change the way in which one assesses a society. There is an awareness of this in the suggestions made in this book. The more pertinent question that it addresses is that of learning as a process of analyzing information and understanding what it means. If this aspect of learning is well-founded in a student then she will know how to assess the validity of changing information and how to understand it.

    Knowledge is a process of observing the past and the present of the world we live in and recognizing what has changed from the past to the present and why. The ability to explain change requires a mental lens that draws initially on curiosity and questioning. This initiation should begin at school.

    The end purpose of textbooks in the social sciences is to prepare the young to become responsible citizens—aware of their rights but also of their obligations. The textual authorities often quoted for this are generally neither read, nor understood nor questioned. However, there have always been those in the past who have either questioned, or opted out and redefined their rights and obligations, as is evident from the history of every society. This was particularly pertinent in the activities of women in society as indeed it still is. The need remains for the assertion of women in aspects of society from which they were earlier debarred or treated as token participants. Today we are in the process of redefining what have been taught to us as our rights and obligations. We have to reflect on them, argue the pros and cons and state our decisions with clarity and firmness. Hence the importance of teaching the young in particular, of what this means.

    This is not just a book about textbooks. It is also about how school teaching at various levels can effectively lead to young people learning how to think. It draws on extensive data, enquires into the crevices of how to teach, is aware of the nuances of what teaching can or cannot draw out and argues for perspectives that are carefully thought out, frequently after a trial run with students. It shows an awareness of issues that range over the gamut from pedagogy to political attitudes.

    There is also the need to teach teachers to teach, woefully lacking in India. Textbooks may change significantly but most teachers will continue to demand that passages be memorized and reproduced by students in the exam. It is easier for both teacher and student. This therefore calls for intensive action in teacher education—not just access to new information but how to handle the information. This is an area where the visual media could be used to great effect, but all that it has done so far is to propagate the existing prejudices in popular perceptions of history.

    This is the kind of book that should be widely read and discussed and perhaps as a result we may witness a greater consciousness about improvements in school curricula, in textbooks and in methods of teaching. Eklavya has not had the cooperation from governments that it deserves—in fact some have been positively hostile. This is part of the hostility towards those concerned seriously with developing education and in part to prevent the spread of the kind of education that encourages the young to think things out. It is now characteristic of virtually all political parties, especially with educational institutions having become a potential for money corruption. But many Indians would still wish to give a worthwhile education to their children. This book can help us think our way through to such a future.

    RomilaThapar April 2009


    This book is the product of several years of engagement with scholarship in the social sciences and the challenge of presenting and communicating the essence of social science enquiry to middle school children. It traces the development of the social science textbooks created by Eklavya for the state schools of Madhya Pradesh. The collection of articles in this book present an academic review of Eklavya's social science texts from the perspective of authors who have written, field-trialled and revised texts, and scholars who reviewed them from the perspective of disciplinary knowledge and pedagogic approach. The review was first shared at a national seminar organized for the purpose by the Maulana Azad Centre for Elementary and Social Education at Delhi University in collaboration with Eklavya, in December 2001.

    The Eklavya texts have been recognized as unparalleled exemplars that have significantly informed the post-NCF 2005 textbook writing initiative. They are designed to enable teachers and children to interact on social issues and processes in an active and analytical manner. This book critically examines this space around the agency of the child and the teacher in the teaching and learning of social sciences. It portrays a journey that links the teaching of social science with pedagogical theory by addressing ideological concerns embedded in the selection and presentation of social science materials in consonance with the developmental context of learners.

    Each of the articles re-establish the significance of familiarizing children with a basic understanding about societies and social change, helping them develop critical skills essential for social analysis, understanding diversities of perception and assessing sources of identities to build a just and egalitarian social order. Themes critical to social enquiry are positioned to convincingly argue for a serious study of the social sciences in schools including the construction of identities; integrated disciplinary perspectives of social issues; questions of diversity, values, gender, democracy and nationalism. The book demonstrates how the social world of the learner can be projected as an object of study and a process by constantly enabling learners to reflect.

    This provides the student-teacher, teacher-educator as well as the teacher-practitioner several trajectories to move beyond information-based teaching and to view social enquiry as scientific meaning-making. It draws upon several examples of text to explore the autonomous spaces available to classroom practitioners in providing useful pedagogical experiences and in resolving the often posed dichotomy between the child and the curriculum. This book can help practitioners develop a critical discourse on education-society linkages and the everyday practice of schooling. It also deals with how curriculum developers need to engage seriously with questions of implicit and explicit links between specific pedagogies and teachers' grasp over disciplinary content and method.

    School education and especially teacher education has all along maintained an artificial but strong divide between pedagogy and disciplinary content. Teachers are trained in pedagogy as ‘technique’ rather than theory and perspective with almost no engagement with content. In the education of teachers, the social sciences have been positioned as mere ‘school subjects’ packaged in textbooks as information. The role of social sciences as foundational disciplines, at best, remains a disconnected part of teacher education programmes for examination-oriented study. The aim here is to demonstrate how the subject matter is intertwined with pedagogic approach and perspective. The involvement of a large number of social scientists—historians, geographers, political scientists and sociologists—who undertook a review of the Eklavya social science texts points towards this effort.

    The book offers a candid articulation of the challenges in writing innovative school textbooks and in re-framing an engagement with social science concepts and perspective, challenges encountered and the finer nuances of meaningful classroom pedagogies. It probes the aims of education and the role of social sciences in communicating normative social expectations. Authors examine issues of development and society, plurality and identity through a critical appraisal of history, civics and geography texts. They highlight the role of learning and education in developing an enquiring mind and in nurturing a democratic social order.

    While the immediate subject of this book is social sciences, it also articulates concerns and systemic issues that led Eklavya and the many contributors to assume roles of resistance and advocacy while carving a space to function within the state education system. The book documents Eklavya's struggle to institutionalize new ideas in state schools and examines the role of civil society in this. It records the remarkable feat of collaborative work and collective synergy amongst scholars and researchers from various fields that led to the creation of the Eklavya social science textbooks.

    Key excerpts are reproduced in Hindi since the review of the Eklavya social science textbooks was undertaken in Hindi. Care has been taken to present summaries of each textbook chapter, along with subject reviews, to examine the context of the content and design of the textbooks. Hindi excerpts follow a systematic classification scheme through the book. For instance, the example, VI.H.5.56 is taken from Chapter 5 of the Class VI History textbook and located on page 56 of the book. The digitized version of these textbooks (both Hindi and English) in the accompanying CD would help the reader to have immediate access to the texts being discussed. A Hindi translation of this book is likely to be available in the near future.

    I thank all the contributors to this volume for tackling with great competence the difficult challenge of articulating process: the journey of writing; transacting and revising the Eklayva texts and articulating the perspective and finer nuances of history, geography, civics and the pedagogic approaches the texts entail. I must also thank them for the trust they reposed in me to undertake the arduous task of editing this volume and for their patience throughout the editorial process. I would like to thank in particular each of the scholars who had participated in the review exercise. Special acknowledgements are due to the social science teachers of Madhya Pradesh whose resolute alliance with Eklavya shaped and reshaped the many pedagogic ideas contained in the texts.

    I would like to thank Rashmi Paliwal for her unfailing support and meticulous scrutiny of the proofs of the book. My deep appreciation is extended to the University of Delhi for having provided me the necessary time off from teaching to complete this work.

    Acknowledgements are due to the SAGE team, in particular, Rekha Natarajan and Anupam Choudhury for their consistent support and patience in handling the challenges associated with producing a bilingual book.

    I extend my warm gratitude to Professor Romila Thapar for sparing her valuable time to write a Foreword for this book. Professor Thapar's statement is symbolic of the book's attempt to highlight social scientists' engagement with questions of pedagogy and to break the insularity within which teacher education is transacted.

    I would like to place on record, with appreciation, the special interest that Tejeshwar Singh took in facilitating the idea of publishing this book.

    I express my deepest gratitude for my daughter Kaholie, whose several discussions with me on social issues helped me to understand the finer nuances of a young mind and my husband Aromar, for his constant support.

    I dedicate this book to the millions of children of our country for whom social science learning need never be a compendium of disconnected ‘facts’ and to their teachers who, I have faith, will take delight in teaching the social sciences when given the professional opportunities they seek and deserve.

    PoonamBatra 14 November 2009 Delhi
  • Epilogue

    The Eklavya Team

    This review and documentation of the social science programme began in 1996 and the draft report was presented at a national seminar in 2001. Much water has flown down the Narmada since then. The government of Madhya Pradesh terminated its integral association with the programme in August 2002 by withdrawing the permission that prescribed it as a formal curriculum in select state schools. Almost simultaneously, several government agencies from different states invited Eklavya to assist in developing social science textbooks for them. Some states have independently used Eklavya text materials as resources and exemplars to develop social science textbooks. Since its formal closure, Eklavya has been working with schools and teachers committed to innovation across the state. In this epilogue, the growth of the programme of Eklavya in the past decade will be discussed briefly.

    A Proposal for Expansion

    In 1999, Eklavya had begun discussions with the state government for expanding the social science programme within the state of Madhya Pradesh. The SCERT suggested that the matter be placed before the Standing Committee for Textbooks—a statutory body set up by the government of Madhya Pradesh to approve state textbooks. The committee in its meeting in July 1999 arrived at the understanding that the matter did not come under its purview. It nevertheless recommended that the state government undertake an evaluation of the programme before implementing it on a large scale.

    By then, Eklavya had completed a preliminary report of the review of the programme with the help of several scholars. The review report was submitted to the government along with a formal proposal for a scale-up of the programme in December 1999. The then director of the Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission, who was also education secretary to the government of Madhya Pradesh advised Eklavya to seek endorsement of its proposal from local bodies such as the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) and District Governments in the light of an effort towards decentralization and devolution of powers to these bodies.

    Eklavya began a process of intense consultations and involvement at the local level to introduce the programme to a cross section of people. Copies of the textbooks were distributed to middle schools and schoolteachers were invited to review them and suggest improvements. Several meetings were held with teachers on the issue. Likewise, district level meetings were held with the intelligentsia, the MLAs and PRI functionaries. The Eklavya textbooks were discussed at great length and a large number of people suggested concrete changes and improvements while also sharing specific reservations. However, most of them welcomed the idea of soliciting the opinion of the people of the district and implementing the Eklavya texts as they viewed them to be children-friendly.

    In May 2000, Eklavya persuaded the District Education Officer (DEO) to set up an advisory committee including school and college teachers to review the textbooks. This committee began its work but was wound up after two meetings as the DEO failed to get a clearance for it from the SCERT.

    In February 2001 Eklavya submitted its proposal for scale-up of the social science programme to the Director, SCERT along with a report of processes undertaken at the district level. The highlight of this proposal was the incorporation of specific roles for the district bodies and the PRIs in the implementation of the programme. It was suggested that the state government implement the programme for a fixed period of five years; an academic advisory committee of teachers, intellectuals, parents and people's representatives be set up to advice on all academic matters; and the district government review the programme every year and at the end of the five-year period. This review was to become the basis on which decisions were to be taken about the continuation of the programme in a given district.

    The response of the government of Madhya Pradesh to this proposal was lukewarm. The secretary to the chief minister felt that curricular matters were the prerogative of the state government and therefore PRIs or even local MLAs cannot play a definitive role. He declared that the state government would prefer to conduct an external and comparative evaluation of the programme before taking any further decision in the matter.

    Despite repeated reminders, however, such an evaluation was never instituted. Eklavya's proposal for an expansion of the programme thus got shelved permanently.

    Closure of the Programme

    In February 2002, at the instance of Dr Sitasaran Sharma, a Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Legislative Assembly (who was also his party's chief whip in the Assembly and an invitee to the meeting of the District Planning Committee), the District Planning Council of Hoshangabad passed a resolution recommending the closure of the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Progamme. A keen debate followed lasting several months in which students, teachers, scientists, educationists and politicians participated. The state government in its wisdom decided to accept this recommendation and eventually passed an official order closing down the science programme of Eklavya in July 2002.

    Meanwhile the MLA, Dr Sharma, made it clear that he was keen to see the social science programme close down as well. In his view the programme promoted ideas that were questionable. Before taking this step, about two years ago he had been given the Eklavya textbooks and was invited to attend meetings held to review the texts as part of the public contact programme. Although he never attended any public meetings, whenever Eklavya members met him in his office, he took the opportunity to seek clarifications on some of the objections he raised about text content. For example, he objected to the name of a character in a story, Aftab, asserting that this gives the ‘impression that all farmers of this district are Muslims’. When it was clarified that the name Aftab in the text referred to a trader who sells locks in local markets, he readily withdrew his objection. Around the same time another BJP MLA raised questions in the State Assembly with regard to the mention of animal sacrifices in the Vedic period and the origin of Aryans in the history texts. These questions were replied very adeptly by the then Education Minister, Shri Mahendra Singh Baudh. Nevertheless, soon after the closure of the Hoshangabad Science Programme in July 2002, Dr Sharma raised the matter of the social science programme with the Madhya Pradesh Textbook Corporation through a formal written communication. His letter raised three main issues:

    • Pointing certain factual errors in the texts mainly in the nature of dated information in the civics section.
    • Questioning the veracity of certain sections of the history texts, such as Vedic animal sacrifices and the Central Asian origins of the Indo Aryans; what he considered the downplaying of the contribution of the Vedic Aryans to science and medicine and the playing up of Buddhist influences.
    • Including in the civics texts, undesirable values and perspectives such as discussing the functioning of the caste system and the prevalence of caste discrimination in historical times and demonstrating protests by the people of a town against an ineffective municipality in the civics texts.

    Dr Sharma seemed to be particularly peeved by the last point. He wrote:

    What is the objective behind painting a negative picture of the government and administration in the innocent minds of class VI students? Do these books want to fill anti-government feelings in the minds from the very childhood? Reference to the equation of votes seems very unjustifiable.

    (S. Sharma, Letter to M.P. Textbook Corporation, 2002)

    This last reference pointed to the story wherein one of the protestors' states that municipal members and MLAs have been elected by popular vote and if they do not solve people's problems they will not get any votes in the next election.

    These questions were forwarded to Eklavya and Eklavya was expected to explain this ‘objectionable’ treatment of the texts, which it did. At the same time the Shiksha Mission sent a list of questions to the Hoshangabad District Education Officer asking for clarifications on the civics sections of the Eklavya textbook for Class VI, and interestingly many of the questions sent by the Mission were similar to those asked by the MLA. Eklavya supplied the answers to the DEO. The sustained campaign of Dr Sharma bore fruit and the Director of the Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission formally ordered the closure of the programme in August 2002, a good two months after the school academic session was well underway. The reason given was that the state government had decided to follow a policy of having uniform textbooks across the schools of the entire state of Madhya Pradesh. The schools were however permitted to use the Eklavya textbooks as supplementary reading materials if they so desired.

    Working with Interested Teachers

    It was amply clear in 2001 itself, that the state government was dragging its feet regarding their thinking on Eklavya's proposal of scaling-up the programme in Madhya Pradesh. This prompted Eklavya to seek the participation of interested teachers in taking forward the vision and practice of hands-on teaching of science and social science in their schools. Formal communication was established with schools seeking the participation of those who wished to attend workhshops on innovative social science teaching. Interested applicants were invited to a workshop organized by Eklavya and the state education department gave them the required permission. Subsequently Eklavya organized such workshops every year. In addition, monthly meetings were held with teachers in about six centres spread over five districts. Over a hundred teachers had been attending these programmes. The meetings and training sessions focused on enhancing the understanding of the teachers on content areas as well as on providing them with ideas for improving their teaching in the classrooms. These meetings became forums for teachers to voice their academic concerns and enrich their understanding of subject-matter. Eklavya has been regularly reviewing the effectiveness and the long term sustainability of these forums and exploring various strategies to build a stable programme of teacher development.

    Textbook Writing in the States

    The District Primary Education Programme of the mid-1990s made attempts to transform the teaching and learning process through pedagogic renewal and developing school textbooks across different states. As the work on primary school textbooks came to a closure, many states felt the need to engage with the creation of middle level texts that would be in consonance with the new primary school books. Thus a spate of textbook rewriting commenced in the late 1990s in several states, beginning with Lok Jumbish in Rajasthan.

    The Lok Jumbish Experience

    In 1996, the Lok Jumbish Parishad invited Eklavya to facilitate the development of its social science and science textbooks for middle schools along the lines of the Madhya Pradesh textbooks. After a series of debates on the question of simply ‘implementing’ its books in a new state, Eklavya decided to build a resource group based in Rajasthan and to collaborate with it to develop texts contextually appropriate for Rajasthan.

    Eklavya adopted a twofold strategy in this regard. First, it consulted NGOs already working in curriculum development in Rajasthan. These were: Sandhan, an organization with experience of work with the Shikshakarmi project and Lok Jumbish; Vidya Bhawan and Sewa Mandir, engaged in development and education for several years. Eklavya solicited the cooperation of Sandhan and Vidya Bhawan to provide infrastructural support as well as collaborate in the endeavour.

    Second, Eklavya established contact with universities and research institutions such as the social science departments of Rajasthan University, Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Maharishi Dayanand University in Ajmer, the Regional Institute of Education, Ajmer, the Institute of Development Studies and the Marudhara Academy. Scholars from these institutions and the NGOs provided rich academic inputs to the programme. They helped Eklavya to adapt the original textbooks to the socio-political and cultural context of Rajasthan; provided primary research materials to develop chapters and joined Eklavya in surveys and field visits (1998, 1999). Above all they brought new perspectives to the teaching of social sciences in Rajasthan.

    It was suggested that unlike the Eklavya textbooks which were focused on select geographical parts of Madhya Pradesh, the books for Lok Jumbish should relate to the entire state of Rajasthan. In geography, this meant taking the entire range of Rajasthan figuratively termed Maru-Meru-Mal. This meant that Eklavya had to introduce a chapter on the theme of desert villages as part of its series of village studies in Class VI geography. They also suggested including themes of relevance like the revival of the Arvari Nadi by the Tarun Bharat Sangh.

    Rajasthan being the site of major regional state formation and the emergence of a syncretic culture in the medieval period, her historians helped to revise some of the Eklavya team's notions relating to these themes and their treatment in the textbooks. Friends from Sandhan helped in understanding the agrarian social structure, the rural marketing system, the Panchayati Raj Institutions in Rajasthan as well as the peculiarities of Rajasthan industry.

    These books were implemented in about 55 schools in the Pisangan block of Ajmer district. This meant several rounds of teacher training, systems of follow-up and monthly meetings with teachers and Lok Jumbish field workers. This gave Eklavya an opportunity to systematize its teacher training package as the team worked with a much larger number of teachers for the first time.

    Lok Jumbish began to run into problems in 1998. The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) that was funding Lok Jumbish suspended financial grant to it, following the testing of the nuclear bomb in Pokhran. Elections to the state assembly brought the Congress party to power. The new authorities sought to bring about radical changes in the perspective and programme of Lok Jumbish bringing it under the control of the state education department. As part of this process, the arrangement with Eklavya was terminated on the plea that the books produced by Eklavya were plagiarized from those produced for Madhya Pradesh! Even though Eklavya had begun work on the Grade VIII textbook it had to be suspended and the SCERT of Rajasthan was commissioned to produce the Grade VIII textbook. This new book had no relation whatsoever with the Grade VI and VII books. Thus ended Eklavya's collaboration with the Lok Jumbish Project.

    Madhya Pradesh SCERT

    In the late 1990s, the Madhya Pradesh SCERT invited Eklayva to help develop the social science textbooks for middle schools. Members of the team participated in a few workshops and offered to help the SCERT. The SCERT included some of the schoolteachers associated with Eklavya in the writer's committee. Although the impact of their efforts can be seen in the texts that were produced, the innovative thinking remains restricted to select chapters. The texts attempt to address the learner in many chapters and devices like stories are used intermittently.


    In 2001, Eklavya began supporting the efforts of the Assam government in mobilizing and orienting a team of resource persons at the state level. A new perspective of the curriculum was evolved and textbooks for Grade V were developed (2003) using many new approaches such as case studies, field surveys, study of original source materials, stories, comparative studies and activities. This work continued till 2003, when a change of personnel in the government was followed by a tapering-off of the involvement of Eklavya.

    Uttar Pradesh

    The new social science textbooks of Uttar Pradesh (published in 2003) have drawn in various ways from the Eklavya textbooks and acknowledged the use of the books as reference material. A large number of chapters from the Eklavya textbooks were used with minor changes. However, Eklavya had no knowledge of this process till the team members accidentally came across these books in mid-2004.

    Delhi SCERT

    Delhi SCERT began preparing new textbooks for all classes in 2003. Several resources persons who had also helped Eklavya were part of the core team that prepared and edited the social science textbooks for Delhi SCERT. The textbooks reflect clearly the influence of Eklavya's work and a creative use of its experiences especially in the history and civics sections. These books in effect provide an alternative and a counter point to Eklavya's work.

    Chattissgarh SCERT

    Chattissgarh separated from Madhya Pradesh in 2000 to form a new state. Soon after, the government of Chattissgarh invited Eklavya, among others, to help develop the curriculum and textbooks for the state. They were especially keen to contextualize the textbooks to the state of Chattissgarh. Eklavya teamed up with Vidya Bhawan and Digantar to participate in this project in collaboration with the SCERT of Chhatissgarh. The latter set up a textbook team consisting of about 25 persons who were vested with the responsibility of drafting the curriculum and preparing the new textbooks for all grades.

    Eklavya has been working closely with this team in building up its experiences in both academic and technical aspects of textbook preparation. Eklavya helped to augment the group with resource persons from the universities, colleges and NGOs of Chattissgarh. However, all decisions pertaining to what goes into the textbooks remain with the SCERT writer's team. Features of Eklavya textbooks, which the team considered acceptable, have found their way into the new textbooks. The new textbooks have been implemented in four blocks in different geographic regions of the state. Teachers have been trained by a collaborative team of Eklavya, scholars from the local colleges and the SCERT faculty. The process of collecting feedback on the trial books and using that to develop textbooks for all the schools of the state of Chhatissgarh was completed and the textbooks are being used in all state schools. Meanwhile, a Resource Centre has been set up in Raipur under the Eklavya Foundation in collaboration with Vidya Bhawan and Digantar from Rajasthan to carry forward sustained work with the SCERT and DIETs of the state.


    The Eklavya team was invited to contribute to the textbook writing work in social sciences for Grades VI to XII. From 2005 to 2008, the team has worked on a number of committees and contributed to the review, writing and editing of the new textbooks, initiated and produced by the NCERT.

    Research and Material Development

    Issues emerging out of the textbook work have been taken up for research studies by members of the team. A study on the learning of concepts in physical geography has been conducted. It is being finalized and prepared for publication. Another study on children's perception of government structures has been conducted and published by Eklavya (George, 2007).

    The textbook work also threw up the need for developing new learning materials. Many schools specially the private schools have been interested in using selected chapters as resource materials instead of the entire textbook. Eklavya has published a number of thematic chapters from the textbooks as modules.

    Another such need was to create an atlas for beginners in map-reading. A project to prepare and publish such an atlas is underway. A series of modules on map-reading is also being planned. Similarly efforts have been made to prepare a module on communalism and the partition of India. A draft of the module has been made and used for teachers' workshops.

    Eklavya has also worked to develop the course content of the optional paper on pedagogy of social sciences in the Collaborative Programme of M.A. in Education (at TISS) and provided faculty for the course. Currently, the nature of discipline in geography and economics and the implications for curriculum development in school, including at the level of secondary education, is being examined and explored in Eklavya.

    The Growing Team

    From 1982 to 1990, the social science team at Eklavya mainly comprised of Ms Anjali Noronha, Ms Rashmi Paliwal, Shri Arvind Sardana, Shri C.N. Subramaniam and Prof. Pramila Kumar. After the first phase of the development of the programme, many new members joined the team at different points of time. Ms Yemuna Sunny, Shri Sanjay Tiwari, Shri Rammurthy Sharma, Shri Alex M. George, Dr Amman Madan, Dr Gautam Pandey, Dr Sarada Balgopalan and Dr Sukanya Bose have taken forward the aims of the social science programme through several fresh initiatives.

    George, Alex. 2006. Children's Perceptions of Sarkar. Eklavya: Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.


    Reviewers of the Social Science Textbooks of Eklavya

    Uma Chakravarty, a feminist historian, taught at Miranda House, University of Delhi as Associate Professor of History for over four decades. She is currently associated with the movement for women's rights and democratic rights.

    Amita Chandra teaches history at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Hindan. Her doctoral work is focused on the nature of school textbooks of history.

    Anita Dighe retired as Professor and Director of the Campus of Open Learning, University of Delhi. She is currently working with Himgiri Nabh Vishwavidyalaya in Dehradun.

    Jean Dreze is currently Honourary Professor at Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi and Senior Professor at G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad.

    R. Govinda is Professor of Education and Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi.

    Rampratap Gupta retired as Professor of Economics from Government College, Rampura and is now a freelance writer and activist on economic issues.

    Sarah Joseph has taught political science at Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi as Associate Professor for several years. She is currently Senior Fellow of the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR).

    Atishi Marlena is a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University where she studied history and education. Based outside Bhopal, she is involved in an attempt to actualize a way of life that is ecologically sustainable, equitable and helps create a better world.

    R. Nagaraj is currently Professor of Economics at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai.

    M.I. Qureshi retired as Professor of Geography from the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

    T.K. Sundari Ravindran is currently honourary Professor of Economics at Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum.

    Sumit Sarkar, an eminent historian of Modern India, has retired as Professor of History from the University of Delhi where he taught for several years. He has been deeply engaged with issues of history syllabi and democratic movements.

    K. Sivaswamy retired as Professor of Geography from the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

    List of Teacher Participants in the Eklavya Social Science Programme

    Babe Ali School, Bhopal: Sarla Tiwari, Rekharani Srivastava, Sarla Pachaur and Leelo Sahgal

    Government Middle School, Arlavada: Sanjeevani Kant, Ishwari Modi and Shri Chauhan

    Government Middle School, Mankund: Prakash Kant and Bherulal Malviya

    Government Middle School, Uda: Aran Kumar Sakalle, Gopal Sharma and Shobha Vajpayee

    Lal School, Harda: Jagdish Tank, Ashok Joshi, Hariprasad Shukla and S.M. Ali

    Government Middle School, Ranhaikalan: Shivlal Gujar and Ramawtar Chourasia

    Government Middle School, Malakhedi: Govardhan Dubey, Aruna Raikwar and Hira Thakur

    Government Middle School, Jasalpur: Radheshyam Dubey, Sarla Upadhyay and Aruna Mishra

    Government Middle School, Jamani: R.P. Pathak and N.K. Parsai.


    Aadhatiya (): Traditional broker in the grain market.

    Aadhat Pratha (): Traditional system of wholesale grain trade through brokers.

    Baada (: Cultivated enclosed patch of land adjacent to the farmer's residence.

    Babool (): Name of a tree.

    Bagraa-bagraa kar (): Unpack, leading to things spilling around.

    Bakaaya (): Amount that is due.

    Bakkhar (): Metal blade used to upturn soil, instead of a plough share.

    Batai (): Share cropping.

    Batla (): A specific variety of pulses.

    Batloi (): Brass vessel for storing water.

    Bidi (): Equivalent of a cigarette.

    Bigha (): Measuring unit (for land), equal to quarter of an acre.

    Bhogapati (): Feudatories vested by the king, in early medieval North India, with rights of controlling defined areas and enjoying its revenues.

    Brahmo Samaj (): A socio-religious reform movement of 19th century Bengal.

    Chhaal (): Bark of tree.

    Chhataai (): Sorting.

    Chait karaney (): Labouring for harvesting agricultural fields.

    Chamada kamaana (): Tanning of leather.

    Chungi Kar (): Toll tax.

    Daavan (): Crushing of husk with the help of bullocks before threshing the grain.

    Darshan (): A holy visit to the temple or any other place of worship.

    Daas (): A term used in the Rig Veda for alien agricultural communities settled in villages and regarded as enemies by the Aryan clans.

    Dastaa (): Team, task force.

    Dasyu (): See Daas ().

    Faujdari (): Criminal cases.

    Grihapati (): Heads of households in possession of wealth and power in Vedic and Buddhist texts.

    Hammal (): Labourers performing loading-unloading tasks.

    Hal-bakkhar (): Equipment for ploughing the soil, one with a pointed plough share and the other with a flat blade attached for the purpose.

    Jagir (): Area alloted to a jagirdar to collect revenue.

    Jagirdari (): Mughal system of paying officials (jagirdar) by granting them the right to collect revenue from a defined territory called jagir for a specific time period.

    Jhalanaa (): Welding.

    Jaziya (): Tax levied on non-muslims.

    Khaataa (): Account.

    Kaveloo (): Terracotta roofing tiles.

    Kasera (): Brass smith.

    Khejri (): Name of a tree found in the Thar desert.

    Koya (): A tribe in Andhra Pradesh.

    Kudki (): Attachment of property.

    Mansabdari (): A system of assigning ranks to officials of the Mughal administration.

    Mothh (): Leather bag with which water is drawn from wells with the help of bullocks.

    Raayatwari (): A revenue settlement system devised by the British in South India to settle land revenue demand directly with each cultivator or raayat.

    Suhrawardy Silsila (): A devotional order of Muslim mystics following a teacher or peer.

    Mahajanpad (): The territories in which clans (jana) settled down and developed as important states with capital cities, forts, armies, etc. in 6th century BC India.

    Muhaanaa (): Mouth of a river.

    Naadu (): A tamil term for a territorial unit consisting of villages; a council administering a unit consisting of villages.

    Palash (): Name of a tree found in central India.

    Paimaana (): Measuring scale.

    Pani () A term used in the Rig Veda for alien agricultural communities settled in villages and regarded as enemies by the Aryan clans.

    Paara (): Mercury.

    Paramhans Mandli (): a socio-religious reform organisation of Maharashtra in the 19th century.

    Painda (): Bottom of a vessel.

    Palevaa (): Filling the field with water for a few days after upturning the soil with the bakkhar (blade), and before ploughing it for sowing.

    Pathaar (): Plateau.

    Praangan (): Courtyard, enclave.

    Pungi (): Piece of paper or any material folded into a conical shape which whistles when blown into.

    Rajanya (): Members of senior lineages in Vedic clans, relatives of rajas.

    Rapta (): Culvert over a stream, rivulet, drain.

    Ropani (): Nursery for preparing plant-saplings

    Sadaabahaar (): Evergreen (forest).

    Samtal (): Plain, flat surface.

    Shabar (): Name of a forest-dwelling tribe inhabiting the areas near the Vindhya mountains.

    Shudra (): The fourth group in the varna system of social hierarchy, who were expected to serve the three ‘higher varnas’ and were barred from performing Vedic rituals.

    Taatpatti (): Strips of jute-matting used in state schools for students to sit on.

    Tattar (): A woven mat of bamboo used for enclosing open space.

    Taksal (): Place for minting coins.

    Tauji (): Land tax.

    Takhta hathiyaana (): Seizing the throne.

    Thaath (): Wooden frame for making the roof.

    Udaavani (): Threshing.

    Ur (): A Tamil term for a village settlement; the council which administers the village.

    About the Editor and Contributors


    Poonam Batra is one of India's leading elementary and teacher education academics with over a 25 years of experience in teaching, research, training, management and consultancy. She is Professor of Education at University of Delhi where she co-created the framework for the Bachelor of Elementary Education (B.El.Ed.), India's much celebrated four-year professional elementary teacher education programme in the 1990s. Professor Batra was awarded the prestigious national Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship in 2007 for research on Teacher Education and Social Change. She has published internationally and domestically in areas of public policy in education, elementary education curriculum and pedagogy, developmental and educational psychology and gender studies. Professor Batra has co-authored a number of key educational policy documents including the Draft National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCERT/NCTE, 2006; 2009); XI Plan Working Group Report on Teacher Education (Planning Commission, 2007); and the section on Education and Women's Equality in review of the New Policy on Education (NPE, 1986). She has had a long association with the Eklavya elementary and social science programmes in Madhya Pradesh.


    Amman Madan works on issues of social anthropology dealing with the relevance and impact of education in society. He is interested in how education mediates social stratification and helps structure a society. He is also interested in the possibilities of education and how it may contribute to the civic culture of a community. He tries to locate education within the context of a stratified and changing India, with its identity politics and nascent deliberative democracy. He has co-authored a book on NCERT's social science textbooks and is presently writing a book on meritocracy as an educational and political ideal for society. He has worked with Eklavya and is associated with the Pragat Shikshan Sansthan, Phaltan, Maharashtra. He is a visiting faculty at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and University of Kashmir. Currently, he is teaching at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.

    Kamala Menon has taught geography at Mothers International School, New Delhi, since 1991, and is currently the Principal of the Mirambika Free-Progress School of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Delhi. She has worked for 17 years in the area of testing in geography in the Department of Measurement and Evaluation at NCERT.

    Disha Nawani is Associate Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, where she teaches in the MA Elementary Education programme. She has helped develop and teach a course on materials design and development which is centred on developing a critical understanding around materials and their evaluation, use and development. Earlier Disha taught courses related to the social sciences in the B.El.Ed. programme at Gargi College, University of Delhi. She works on issues related to the sociology of education. Her specific areas of interest are children's literature and their pedagogic relevance, understanding the role of NGOs in education and critically viewing teaching-learning materials for the elementary school level.

    Yemuna Sunny has a background in Geography and has been working in Eklavya on areas of social science education since 1993. She has been deeply engaged with the need to critically examine geography as a school subject. She has several articles published in Sandarbh, Eklavya's journal for teachers. She is also involved in the development of an atlas for students that focuses on the development of geography in terms of relationships and processes. She has also been developing and teaching a social science course as part of the MA Education (Elementary) Programme at TISS. She has been involved in out-of-school learning and has worked with children and youth of rural Hoshangabad, where writing, theatre, reading, discussions, and so on, have created some spaces for expression for Dalits.

    Tripta Wahi retired as Associate Professor of History from Hindu College, the University of Delhi. She has been closely associated with the Social Science Programme of Eklavya since the mid-1980s. She was Senior Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla from 1992 to 1994. Thereafter she was actively involved in the Jahagirpuri project of MACESE and held the UGC Fellowship to work with Lokshala, a community-based UEE initiative of MACESE, University of Delhi. Tripta Wahi evolved the concept of local history: people's engagement with themselves, as part of the Lokshala initiative. Her main focus of research and activism include the agrarian history of Punjab; irrigation and social relations of production and women's issues. She works with the democratic rights movement.

    The Eklavya Team

    Pramila Kumar retired as Professor of Geography from the University of Sagar in Madhya Pradesh and is former Director of the Madhya Pradesh Hindi Granth Academy. Professor Kumar has been associated with Eklavya since 1986 and has contributed in a major way in developing the geography sections of Eklavya's textbooks.

    Anjali Noronha has a background in economics and has been working in Eklavya since 1982. She has been involved in the development of the social science education programme and the primary school education programme, including language and mathematics. She has also been involved in children's literature, developing curriculum and textbooks with government and other organizations at the primary and middle school levels, and research and evaluation of educational programmes. She has published papers on social science education and innovations in school education systems. Her current work includes develop-ment of a bilingual language and reading programme, development and teaching of courses in the MA Education programme at TISS and school development and work in public education programmes and policy.

    Rashmi Paliwal has a background in history and has been working with Eklavya on the development of the new curriculum programme in social sciences since 1983. Her other areas of work with Eklavya include language and mathematics education in schools. She is also involved in the publication of the journal Sandarbha for teachers. She has worked with many government and non-government institutions in developing curricula and textbooks. She has been concerned with evolving strategies for teacher support programmes. Classroom observations and qualitative studies of children's learning have also been her areas of interest. She has published articles on learning in history and curriculum development. Currently, she is engaged with the development of field-based resource centres, with special emphasis on primary education. In addition, she has remained involved in the documentation of Eklavya's work and editing of its publications.

    Arvind Sardana has a background in economics and has been working with Eklavya on the development of the new curriculum programme in social sciences since 1986. His other areas of work with Eklavya include mathematics and science education in schools, development of curriculum and textbooks with government and non-governmental organizations and research into areas of social science education. He has published articles on social science and economics education.

    C.N. Subramaniam has a background in history and has been working in Eklavya on the development of the new curriculum programme in social sciences since 1984. His other areas of work with Eklavya include language and mathematics education in schools. He writes regularly for teachers and children on issues of history. He is currently Director of Eklavya.

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