The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to withdraw a controversial and much-criticised passage from the English Literature paper as part of the Class 10 Board examination. The paper conducted on Saturday, December 11, carried a comprehension passage with sentences such as "emancipation of women destroyed the parents' authority over the children" and "it was only by accepting her husband's way that a mother could gain obedience over the younger ones.”. The question paper also went on to say “children and servants” were taught to “know their place.” Various excerpts from the passage have gone viral on social media, sparking a row among users. The hashtag “CBSE insults women” was trending on Twitter.
After the passage sparked a row, CBSE issued an official note which said that the paragraph was not in accordance with the guidelines of the board, and that it has been decided that the passage will be dropped. The students who attempted the examination will be granted full marks for the passage in question.
“A passage in one set of the English Language and Literature paper of CBSE Class X first term examination held on 11th December 2021, is not in accordance with the guidelines of the board with regard to setting of question papers. In this backdrop and on the basis of feedback received from stakeholders, the matter was referred to a committee of subject experts. As per their recommendation, it has been decided to drop the passage No.1 and its accompanying questions of the Question Paper Series JSK/1. Full marks will be awarded for this passage to all the students concerned,” the CBSE said.
“To ensure uniformity and parity, full marks will also be awarded to students for passage No 1 for all Sets of the question paper Class X English language and Literature,” the board added.
The CBSE paper had drawn criticism from across quarters, and was raised in Parliament as well on Monday. Congress president Sonia Gandhi condemned "blatantly misogynist" and "nonsensical" questions in the Class 10 CBSE exam, saying those reflected "extremely poorly" on the standards of education and testing.
"The passage contains atrocious statements such as 'women gaining independence is the main reason for a wide variety of social and family problems' and if 'wives stops obeying their husbands, that is the main reason children and servants are undisciplined'," she said, reading out excerpts from the Class-10 CBSE question paper. The Congress chief said the entire passage was riddled with such condemnable ideas and the questions that followed were equally "nonsensical".
Seeking a clarification from the government on the issue raised by Gandhi, members of the Congress, the DMK, the IUML, the NCP and the National Conference walked out of the House.
"I add my voice to the concerns of students, parents, teachers and educationists and I raise strong objections to such blatantly misogynist material finding its way into an important examination conducted by the CBSE," Gandhi said. She urged the Ministry of Education and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to immediately withdraw the questions, issue an apology and conduct a thorough review into this "gravest lapse" to ensure that "this is never, never repeated again".
"I also urge that the Ministry of Education must conduct a review of the gender sensitivity standards of the curriculum and the textbooks," the Lok Sabha member from Rae Bareli had said.
With PTI inputs