From the academic session 2020-21, Class 11 students of schools affiliated to the UP Board will no longer study the works of William Shakespeare and William Wordsworth but instead read Kushwant Singh and Nani Palkhivala.
Similarly, Class 9 students will study works of Vikram Seth, Mulk Raj Anand, RK Laxman and Ruskin Bond.
English subject books based on the new NCERT syllabus for Classes 9 and 11, approved by the UP Board, are now available in the market at affordable rates, said Prayagraj district inspector of schools (DIOS) RN Vishwakarma.
He said that NCERT-syllabus based books for other subjects for students of Classes 9 to 12 in over 28,000 affiliated schools were being introduced since April 2018 onwards in a phased manner.
However, LR Sharma of Allahabad University’s English and Modern European languages department held a different opinion.
“William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the history of the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He was a greatest inventor of words in English and created over 1,600 English words besides phrases and sentence-structuring style that has left a huge impact on the English language,” he said.
Teaching Shakespeare at the university level, Sharma said that Shakespeare’s plays, poems, and sonnets have taught life’s lessons that are relevant even in today’s society.
“I believe that by exposing children to his works, one ensures that a child develops not just a better understanding of the English language but an understanding of life and people that cannot come just by teaching grammar. I remember studying at least two plays and many poems before intermediate and before joining college,” he said.
Teachers, who have finally got their hands on the new English books introduced this year, said that earlier, in poetry, children of Class 11 used to study Shakespeare’s ‘Mercy’ and Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ besides Sarojini Naidu’s ‘Palanquin bearers’ and Toru Dutt’s ‘Our Casuarina Tree’.
In prose, they used to study eight stories including the much acclaimed ‘My struggle for an education’ by Booker T Washington and ‘The Kite Maker’ by Ruskin Bond, besides four short stories that included ‘Pen Wall’ by G Srinivasa Rao and ‘After Twenty Years’ by O Henry, said Lalchand Pathak, English teacher and principal of Shiv Charan Das Kanhaiya Lal Intermediate College, Meerapur. However, the new book, ‘Reading skills’ for Class 11, has just eight chapters which includes Kushwant Singh’s ‘The Portrait of a Lady’, Nani Palkhivala’s ‘The Ailing Planet’ and Jayant Narliker’s ‘The Adventure’, he added.
Likewise, for Class 9 students, works like ‘Tom Sawyer’ by Mark Twain in prose as well as ‘Faithful Friend’ by William Shakespeare and ‘Indian Weavers’ by Sarojini Naidu from poetry have been omitted, while ‘My Childhood’ by former president of India APJ Abdul Kalam has been included in the new book, he said.
Meanwhile, students remain enthused.
“I am all excited to read the new books. I will now be able to read works of so many noted authors, about whom I have heard so much over the years.
My parents have just got me the new books,” said Riya Yadav of the UP Board-affiliated Brij Behari Sahai Inter College, Shivkuti, who notched up an impressive 91.33 per cent in the high school exam.
Teachers however say that the new course has significantly increased the load on Class 9 students while it has cut down the syllabus for Class 11.
“The new course has increased the load of Class 9 students as the English Literature part has almost doubled, while the course of Class 11 has become half of what it was earlier. Till last year, Class 11 students had to study two books: one of prose and the other of poetry, said Mary Wanamaker Girls Intermediate College (Katra) principal Shubha Washington.
“ The poetry book had a separate long form poem on Mahatma Buddha titled ‘The Light of Asia’, while the prose book had four short stories. Class 11 students had to study 23 chapters including the long poem, while the new course limits it to one book with a mere eight chapters,” she said. However, Class 11 students will also have to learn notice and report-writing which was not included in the course earlier, she added.
For Class 9 students, earlier, there were 13 chapters in the course including six of prose, five in poetry and two in the supplementary reader. In the new course, there are 33 chapters, including 11 of prose, 10 of poetry and 10 in the supplementary reader.
No change has however been made in the grammar portion of the course, she added.