The Human Resource and Development Ministry recently made an announcement. They said that NCERT will change school textbooks. The Ministry launched a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for school education. This will serve as a road-map for NCERT for 2020-21.
What is NCERT?
It is the National Council of Educational Research and Training. It came into existence in 1961 and is an autonomous GOI organization. The aim of the NCERT is to design a common education system in India. A system that also encourages cultural diversity across the country. The first national policy statement on education came in 1968. This reflected the recommendations of the Kothari Commission (1964-66).
The policy approved the adoption of a uniform model of education across the country. It would comprise 10 years of the general education program. 2 years of diversified education would follow this. This framework came in 1988 after the National Policy on Education (1986). It included 12 years of school education. It also proposed a reorientation of curriculum/teaching materials. All this was to make them more student-friendly. It called for the introduction of exam reforms. It also wanted to introduce the implementation of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation. This would be at all stages of education.
What is NCF?
A National Curriculum Framework is a set of subjects. Primary/secondary schools use it so that children learn the same things. It contains the subjects that the children will learn. It also contains the standards that children must achieve in each subject. NCF 2005 was the fourth and the last National Curriculum Framework. NCERT published it in 2005. They published the previous ones in 1975, 1988, 2000. It served as a guideline for syllabus, textbooks, and pedagogy for schools. They based the NCF, 2005 on government reports on education. Some examples were Learning Without Burden and National Policy of Education 1986–1992. They also focussed on group discussions.
The NCERT designed the NCF taking into account ideas expressed in the past such as:
- Switching learning from rote technique
- Connecting knowledge to life outside school.
- Merging examination into classroom learning making it more flexible.
- Enhancing the curriculum so it goes beyond textbooks.
- Nurturing an over-riding identity informed by concerns within the democratic regime of the country.
The NCF focused on:
- Learning without burden.
- Making learning an interesting experience.
- Drifting away from textbooks to serve as a basis for the exam and to relieve stress in children.
- Developing autonomy and dignity of the individual.
- This would be the basis of social relationships.
- It would also develop a feeling of non-violence and unity in society.
- Developing a child-centred approach.
- Promoting universal enrollment and retention until the age of 14.
- Inculcating feeling of oneness, democracy, and unity in the students.
- This would enable them to strengthen our national identity.
- It would also encourage the new generation to re-evaluate.
- Equality, quality, and quantity as the exclusive triangle for education.
- Ensuring that students receive a standard curriculum irrespective of caste, creed, religion, and sex.
What changes will it bring?
The NCERT developed the road-map to set up Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission. This will be under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. It also would focus on results-cantered approach learning. The objectives of the new road-map set by Ministry are:
- Learning outcomes for grades 1-10.
- The deadline to meet certain targets has also been fixed.
- All material required for the learning outcomes will be available by October 2020. This is applicable to primary schools and by March 2021 for classes 6 to 12.
- Further, online teacher training courses for the 1st-5th Std will also start by December 2020. Courses for classes 6-12 will become available by June 2021.
- The NCERT has been asked to prepare alternative academic learning material. This is keeping in mind the situation arising out of coronavirus pandemic. This is specifically for students without access to online classes and materials.
- NCERT will prepare at least 10 questions to measure the learning outcomes for each class.
- The National Achievement Survey 2017 has identified some hard spots for students. Hence, NCERT will provide reading resources to ‘demystify’ the ‘hard spots’ for students.
Why is it necessary to revise the curriculum?
Curriculum review and redesign aim to improve student’s learning and engagement. It also aims to improve their experience and performance. This process may be a valuable development process for individuals and program teams. Furthermore, it has great potential if properly planned and executed. The revision will upgrade communication and collaboration among staff. As a result, it can lead to stronger team ethics.
Many schools have a curriculum revision integrated into their culture. The scope of the curriculum framework review must be light. Other programs may also take advantage of the opportunity offered by the review. They may embark on a more ambitious curriculum change.
The Road Ahead
Learning should be a pleasant and joyful act. Children must feel that they are valued and that their voice is heard. Further, the curriculum structure must design a school where students feel safe and valued. Also, the program should focus on the holistic development of students. This, in addition, will improve the physical and mental development of individuals. It will also improve their interactions with their peers.
To promote holistic development, schools must take nutrition and physical exercise into account. Along with this, they must also take into account other psycho-social needs. Participation in yoga and sports is also essential. Learning must be enjoyable and must be linked to real-life experiences. It must involve deeper concepts and understanding.
Adolescence is a sensitive age for students. So, the curriculum must prepare and provide social and emotional support. It should also instil positive behaviour and provide essential skills. Further, it should help deal with situations that students encounter in life such as peer pressure and gender stereotypes.
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