CALIFORNIA: A well known Sikh intellectual activist has argued for inclusion of Sikhism in a book meant for California schools which does include other major religions. He has also pleaded with fellow Sikhs and community organisations to plead with the local schools in Sikh-population rich areas to include the study of Sikhism in school curriculum.
Dr. Onkar S Bindra’s exertions are in view of the fact that the History-Social Science (HSS) Framework for California’s Public Schools published in 2001 by the California Department of Education (CDE), is to be updated by the year 2010.The revised document will contain the course descriptions and content standards that provide guidance to teachers on what to cover in each Grade Level (K-12) and provide guidelines to publishers on what to include in the textbooks that they will submit in 2010-11, to the State Board of Education (SBE) for adoption for California’s public schools for the following six years..
“Most books adopted in California are adopted in many other States. Thus, the Framework is an extremely important document. It is, therefore, essential to vigilant and guard community and public interest during its updating process,” Dr Bindra said in a statement.
The HSS Subject Matter Committee of the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission held its first meeting at Sacramento on September 27, to plan for the updating of the Framework. Dr. Onkar S. Bindra spoke during the Public Comments session. He requested for inclusion of Sikhism in the course description of the elective, Survey of World Religions, on page 121 of the current Framework. Presently, it includes Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. A couple of School Districts have decided to teach Sikhism in this course. School District with dense Sikh population may agree to do the same, should the Sikh community plead for the same.
Further, Dr Bindra requested inclusion of India in the 7th grade – history of medieval and early modern period. He added that if this was not possible, Growth of Islam in India, already a part of the course description and content standards should cover the following: founding of Sikh religion by Guru Nanak (1469-1539), imprisonment of Guru Nanak by Babar and of the 6th Guru by Aurangzeb, Guru Arjan’s torture to death in keeping with Jehangir’s desire and beheading of the 9th Guru under Aurangzeb’s orders, institution of the Khalsa and of the Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal the 10th Guru, rise of the Sikh power under Maharaja Ranjit Singh and decline of the Mughal Empire.
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