Sunday, 15 May 2016

Madras HC: include Thirukkural in syllabus

Madras HC directs TN govt to include Thirukkural in syllabus

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HC: Make Thirukkural Compulsory in Schools from 2016-17

By R.K.Rajasekaran

Published: 27th April 2016 04:47 AM

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to include Thirukkural as a compulsory separate subject in school syllabus from the next academic year.

Though the students were already learning about 275 couplets of the epic, the court mentioned that mere ‘memorising and writing’ of the couplets in the sake of examinations was insufficient. According to petitioner S Rajarathinam, a retired government employee, the crimes against women, children have increased to unimaginable extent. Also, matrimonial disputes have increased considerably depicting once again the intolerant, dishonest and inhuman lifestyles.

Under such circumstances, the court should direct the government to modify the school syllabus for Class VI to XII, so as to ensure that the students acquainted and learnt thoroughly all the 1,330 couplets of Thirukkural, he prayed.

The Special Government Pleader (SGP) appearing for the government contended that in pursuance of the Tamil Learning Act, 2006, Tamil language was made a compulsory subject. The syllabus was framed by the experts in the Education Department after considering  the socio-economic and cultural values of Thirukkural and about 275 selected couplets were included at suitable places so as to not overburden the students. Even, several competitions were held to propagate it.

Moreover, there is no duty on the state to accede to the request made by the petitioner and hence under the above circumstances, the writ petition should be dismissed, he added.

After hearing the arguments, Justice R Mahadevan said it was contended by the SGP that the policy decisions cannot be the subject matter of a writ petition. But the offences in the society have been increased manifold. It affected the people’s fundamental rights, which should be preserved. Though the court cannot directly enforce the fundamental rights directing the state to enact the law in a particular way, it can interfere when the same rights would be affected.

No other literary work than Thirukkural can teach the moral values, so the government should include all Adhigarams of two sections in the curriculum of students, the judge said.

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Ex-judge feels Thirukkural can't be thrust upon schools

TNN | Apr 28, 2016, 02.47 AM IST

Chennai: Should Thirukkural be taught in schools to improve the moral standard of our children? While a Madras high court judge thinks so, many others feel it is not for the judiciary to decide what goes into the school curriculum.

Justice R Mahadevan of the Madurai bench directed schools to include 108 chapters of the classical Tamil literature in the curriculum for Classes 6 to 12, but he did not want the third chapter (Kamathupal, that deals with the relationship between a husband and wife) to be included.

"It is not up to the court to decide on what should be included in a school curriculum. A decision like that needs to be left to academicians," said former high court judge K Chandru. He referred to the Supreme Court case of 2004 in which PM Bhargava, founder director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, filed a petition stating that astrology should not be included as part of the University Grants Commission courses.

"The SC directed that the decision was best left with academicians and not the court. The judiciary cannot make statements and decisions like this," said Chandru.

Students are not pleased either. " I memorised around 200 verses from Class 6 to 10," said Roshni Mani, a Class 12 student of Montford Higher Secondary School. "Like most students I did not understand the meaning of some of the couplets. For most of us it was just a way of scoring marks," she said.

Dr B Damodaran, a lawyer who teaches Thirukurral to students, said rote learning of the couplets did not add value. "Merely making children memorise the 1330 verses in Thirukkural is not going to make a difference in their lives. Each couplet needs to be understood in today's context on its own. This is not like making mass photocopies," he said.

"For this you need good teachers who understand Thirukkural and its true meaning," said Damodran who formed Thirukkural Mandram - a forum for teaching the couplets.

For Chandru, the context too comes with complications. "Thirukkural was written centuries ago. There are many verses that are almost against women. I don't think those should be propagated today. There are other verses about God. Now, one cannot assume that every student is a believer," he said.

The HC judgement was passed on a petition filed by S Rajarathinam who wanted students to be taught the entire Thirukkural by the time they left school as he felt it would instill moral values in them.

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