A comprehension passage in the CBSE class 10 English question paper has sparked a controversy for allegedly promoting gender stereotyping and supporting regressive notions prompting the board to refer the matter to subject experts on Sunday, December 12.
In the class 10 exam conducted on Saturday, December 11, the question paper carried a comprehension passage with sentences like "emancipation of women destroyed the parent's authority over the children" and "it was only by accepting her husband's way that a mother could gain obedience over the younger ones", among others. It goes on to say “children and servants” were taught to “know their place”.
Various excerpts from the passage have gone viral on social media with users calling out the board for supporting misogynistic and "regressive opinions and the hashtag "CBSE insults women" trending on Twitter.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called it "downright disgusting".
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also took to Twitter objecting to the question paper. "Unbelievable! Are we really teaching children this drivel? Clearly the BJP Government endorses these retrograde views on women, why else would they feature in the CBSE curriculum?" she said.
Lakshmi Ramachandran, spokesperson of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, said, "This outrageously nonsensical reading passage appeared in the 10th CBSE board exam paper today. What are we teaching our children? CBSE has to give an explanation and tender an apology for inflicting our children with this".
This outrageously nonsensical reading passage appeared in the 10th CBSE board exam paper today. What are we teaching our children? CBSE has to give an explanation and tender an apology for inflicting our children with this.@Jairam_Ramesh @jothims @kavithamurali— Lakshmi Ramachandran (@laksr_tn) December 11, 2021
Extracts follow+ pic.twitter.com/QInuqaBAaE
Karur MP Jothimani wrote to the Chairperson of the CBSE to recall the paper and "ensure that a sensitisation session is held in grade 10 CBSE classroom to debrief why such regressive ideas must find no place in the 21st century.
"Class 10 CBSE English paper today says children and servants must be taught their place and women gaining some independence destroyed parents authority over children. Entire passage is so stupid. Who are these idiots setting question paper in CBSE," asked Jayaram, the convenor of Arappor Iyakkam.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) issued a statement saying," The passage in one set of the English paper of CBSE class 10 first term examination held yesterday has received mixed reactions from a few parents and students stating that 'it seems to support regressive notions on family and allegedly promotes gender stereotyping'".
"The matter will be referred to subject experts for considered views as per the pre set procedures of the board. As regards the correct answer option and the answer key released by the board, it is clarified that if the experts opine that the passage elicits multiple interpretations, appropriate action will be taken to protect the interest of the students," the board said.
The CBSE class 12 sociology paper held earlier this month asked students to name the party under which the anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place, a question the board later said was inappropriate and against its guidelines.