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New science textbooks of upper primary level schools in Rajasthan come under public scrutiny
In Rajasthan, the new school textbooks have been readied to be introduced from this academic session. The books were not made available to the public at large in time for public and independent expert reviews. Some concerned groups and Right to Education activists demanded the draft books for review, but they were not provided, it was informed during a focus group discussion on new textbooks of science at upper primary level.

In most democratic countries, common public and parents have a right, even an obligation for ensuring quality of education, to participate in their children's education. Indirectly, under Right to Education (RTE) in India, the state has the obligation to provide satisfactory quality of education - one that satisfies the parents and meets the diverse needs of children. In fact, for parents, the textbooks as tangible products reflect the quality or nature of education that is going to be provided to their children.

In fact, it is a part of the textbook preparation procedure to provide the draft textbooks on demand to the interested parents, teachers, educators, scholars, child right activists, etc., to review the textbooks before they are published. In many democratic countries members of the public review textbooks and provide inputs to strengthen the textbooks.

A focus group was organized to work out a framework for the in-depth review of the science textbooks of grades six, seven and eight. Eight members drawn from the NGOs, activists, free lancers and scholars was organized who spent four hours to discuss the structure of standard science textbook and design a review framework. The meeting was coordinated by Komal Srivastava of Bharat Jan Gyan Vigyan Samiti.

The review points consisted of the following points: intrinsic validity of the science textbook based on the nature of science (objectivity; process-basing, universality of science; scientific spirit or rational thinking); sequencing of the themes and topics; technical language adherence of writing in third person and paragraph structures; visual symbols and diagram inclusion; factual accuracy; age-grade appropriateness of concepts; gender neutrality; nature of exercises and student's work; linkage to previous knowledge and across the topics for unity of knowledge; social and technological implication of scientific laws and principles.

It was also agreed that science textbooks should be reviewed for partisan views, subjectivity, prescriptions, preaching, belief thinking, pseudo-science and scientism. Since is a universal knowledge area, verifiability, openness, dynamism, pedagogical soundness, etc., also need to be examined for the textbook. Science believes in the purity of processes and procedures along with the taking precautions for replicable and universally verifiable results. For the development of science textbooks, the scientific procedure should be followed. At many places, lesson studies involving practicing teachers, textbook writers, pedagogues and educators are undertaken before finalizing the textbook lessons to bring out a quality textbook, informed an invited science education expert.

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