The teaching of social sciences in schools and colleges in India

Authored by: Hari Vasudevan

The Routledge Handbook of Education in India

Print publication date:  September  2021
Online publication date:  September  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367466770
eBook ISBN: 9781003030362
Adobe ISBN:


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This brief chapter examines the teaching in India of a range of subjects associated with the social sciences – history, geography, political science, sociology, and economics. It focuses on their teaching in schools and at the first degree level, in universities (Jamia Millia, Jadavpur, etc.), or colleges affiliated to universities (Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Delhi, etc.), locating developments against an international background beginning with India’s late colonial experiences. The chapter traces the limited sense of the social sciences as an integrated domain of study at the time of India’s Independence and its slow evolution towards the 1960s. In school and college/early university, though, the child/young person did not find reference to the composite space in any meaningful manner. The domain was often used as a descriptive category well into the mid-1990s, with substantial value inflection loading its treatment at the school level. Initiatives took shape in the mid-2000s in India’s National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) moving in new directions. These did not find any serious uptake in universities, where training in the categories and information necessary for research orientation were standard until recently. The chapter ends with a short evaluation of later developments associated with the Right to Education Act (RTE) and the onset of privatisation in school and university education.

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