National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT) released an official statement on Friday to clarify the reason behind including the term “chokri” in a poem of Hindi textbook, Rimjhim, prescribed for Class 1 students. Many social media users widely criticised a children’s poem, Aam Ki Tokri, in which the word “chokri” (a non-derogatory slang term) has been used to refer to a six-year-old girl who is seen carrying a basket of mangoes over her head in order to sell them.
They considered the word offensive and suggested it be replaced. However, a few netizens pointed out that the slang is common in certain local dialects and not considered derogatory. In the statement issued, the council neither agreed nor disagreed with the sentiments shared. Taking to the official handle, NCERT stated that the poem was included in the textbook under the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005 perspective to give students “an exposure” to local vocabulary.
With reference to inclusion of poems in NCERT textbooks: It is to state that, “in consonance with NCF-2005 perspective and with an objective to provide children an exposure to vocabulary of local languages, these poems were included at that time.— NCERT (@ncert) May 21, 2021
A 2009 batch Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer, Awanish Sharanwas the first one to share the screenshot of the controversial poem on Thursday (May 20). Sharma, who works in the state’s technical education department, called the literature of inferior quality and questioned the credibility of the poet. Through his post, he requested the authorities to remove the poem from the syllabus.
Soon after his post went viral, netizens were seen divided on the issue. Some people also raised concerns on the theme of the poem which according to them was promoting child labour.
One Twitter user expressed shock that young students are being taught such poems in their schools.
NCERT has, meanwhile, assured people that new textbooks are being prepared under the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, which was introduced by the education minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal.
The controversial poem has been written by an Uttarakhand-based poet, Ramkrishna Sharma Khadder, who pens children’s literature.