The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Monday decided to drop a controversial comprehension passage in the Class 10 English Board exam and give full marks to all students, following an uproar over the board allegedly promoting “gender stereotyping” and “regressive notions”.
The passage, which featured in the exam on Saturday, drew sharp criticism as it appeared to draw a link between “lack of parental authority in the home” and “the emancipation of the wife”. “What people were slow to observe was that the emancipation of the wife destroyed the parent’s authority over children,” reads part of the passage to test comprehension of students in the examination. “It was only by accepting her husband’s sway that she (wife) could gain obedience from the young,” reads another part of the passage.
In a statement, CBSE controller examinations Sanyam Bhardwaj said, “The matter was referred to a committee of subject experts. As per their recommendations, it’s been decided to drop the passage No. 1 and it’s accompanying questions of the question paper series JSK/1. Full marks will be awarded for this passage to all students concerned.”
“To maintain uniformity, full marks will be awarded to all students for passage No. 1 in all sets of the question paper of the Class 10 English language and literature exam,” he added.
The clarification came even as Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in a rare intervention in Parliament, demanded an apology from the board over the “blatantly misogynist” passage and asked the Union education ministry to review gender sensitivity in its curriculum.
Quoting from the controversial passage, Gandhi said in the Lok Sabha, “This contains atrocious statements such as ‘women gaining independence is the main reason for a wide variety of social and family problems’.” She further quoted the passage which claimed “wives stopped obeying their husbands” and that is “ the main reason why children and servants are undisciplined” , stressing on “children and servants” twice as she spoke.
Claiming there is a “nationwide outrage regarding a shockingly regressive passage” in the comprehension section of the CBSE exam held on December 11, Gandhi said, “The entire passage is riddled with such condemnable ideas and the questions that follow are equally nonsensical.”
In the Lok Sabha, Gandhi demanded that the CBSE should immediately withdraw this question and issue an apology. She also demanded a review to ensure such a mistake “never, never” happens again.
The Congress president also sought a review on gender sensitivity standards in the curriculum.
Earlier in the day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi also tweeted the controversial passage.