After February First, the Ministry of Education's Janak Educational Materials Centre has started including pictures of the king, queen, crown prince and crown princess on the first page of all textbooks. The cost of putting these additional pages in the tens of millions of textbooks has not been publicly debated, nor has the relevance of having the portraits in textbooks. Even parliamentary parties haven't made an issue out of it. However, the Maoists have taken notice and have launched a campaign in some tarai districts to go to schools and tear out the pages containing the royal portraits in front of school children. They have also ordered teachers not to use books with the royal portraits saying they are symbols of feudalism and a personality cult.
Paradoxically, the Maoists' own people's education curriculum doesn't seem that different from authoritarian monarchists. The rebels' Regional Peoples' Education Division' for Rukum and Rolpa has issued its curriculum for Grades 1-3 in which students will be asked not to recognise the king and queen of Nepal, but the portraits of Marx, Mao and Prachanda.
The Social Studies curriculum for Grade 1 says: 'Students should be able to recognise the flags of the communist party, the people's council and fraternal people's organisations, to recite the full names of the party and people's government and remember the names, place and date of births and deaths of Marx, Lenin, Mao and the date and place of birth of Prachanda.' In Grade Three, teachers are asked to make sure that students know the life story of Prachanda.
The head of the Maoist Regional People's Education Division, Comrade Tufan Singh, says: "We are proud that the students will be learning about the proletarian class struggle and its leadership and martyrs." He says the new curriculum will be required in schools all over the country.