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Insights into Editorial: The direction that the National Curriculum Framework needs to take

 

 

Context:

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has tasked the State Councils of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs) to develop four State Curriculum Frameworks (SCFs).

They pertain to School Education, Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), Teacher Education (TE) and Adult Education (AE).

This is as in the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

The overarching goal will be to ensure universal access to high-quality early childhood care and education across the country in a phased manner.

Special attention and priority will be given to districts and locations that are particularly socio-economically disadvantaged.

 

About National Curriculum Framework (NCF):

NCF provides the framework for creation of the school syllabi and the writing of textbooks, while giving guidelines on teaching practices in India.

Purpose: To make education comparable across the country in qualitative terms and also making it as means of ensuring national integration without compromising on the country’s pluralistic character.

It addresses four issues:

  1. Educational purpose
  2. Educational experience
  3. Organization of experience
  4. Assessing learner

NCF is only suggestive and provides guidelines on different aspects of education. All the states also developed State Curriculum Framework (SCF) in line with NCF.

The NCERT will also provide support to the SCERTs in terms of guidance, training of personnel, and technology platforms to develop these documents.

The NCF document shall henceforth be revisited and updated once every 5-10 years, taking into account frontline curriculum.

 

School Education and Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER):

  1. Universalization of education from preschool to secondary level with 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030.
  2. School governance is set to change, with a new accreditation framework and an independent authority to regulate both public and private schools.
  3. Assessment reforms with 360-degree Holistic Progress Card, tracking Student Progress for achieving Learning Outcomes
  4. A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) 2021, formulated by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) in consultation with National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

 

Issues that need to deal while developing National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE):

  1. NEP 2020 puts Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and Classes 1 and 2 (first five years of education, for the age group three 3 to 8 years) as one stage.
  2. However, the ECCE and Classes 1 and 2 will be run in separate institutions by different teachers having different skill sets.
  3. Teachers’ qualifications, salaries, and training are supposed to be different, their curriculum frameworks are supposed to be different and ECCE and classes should not be clubbed together.
  4. The policy is chock-a-block with words for values, capabilities and skills, all justified as needed for emerging market requirements.
  5. Furthermore, these lists are just heaps of words, devoid of any organising principle to decide priorities, inter-relationships and deriving curricular content and pedagogy from them.
  6. A similar unorganised list is repeated ad nauseum in the name of pedagogical recommendations.
  7. And yet, it fails to provide appropriate criteria to choose pedagogy at different stages and for different curricular areas.
  8. The so-called foundational stage crumbles under the slightest scrutiny on organisational as well as pedagogical grounds.

 

Solution for the policy formulation:

The purpose of surveys on public opinion is to create a consensus on basic values, and the vision and the direction our education system should take.

One way out of this problem is to take a lot of help from the Secondary Education Commission Report (SECR) and Zakir Hussain’s Basic National Education (BNE) report.

 

Secondary Education Commission Report (SECR):

  1. The SERC assumes, without saying, that the democratic polity we adopted gives us that consensus.
  2. They also collected a lot of data, but that data was analysed and organised in the light of the vision of the individual, society, and education inherent in the democratic ideal.
  3. Thus, they had all the three necessary elements: the overall framework of values and future direction, current issues and problems of the education system, and public opinion.
  4. The SECR makes sense of the latter two in the light of the earlier. And it rigorously works out the aims of education, pedagogy and content to achieve those aims.
  5. The logical rigor is very clear in working our aims from the democratic values and pedagogy from the aims. It is somewhat loose in working out the content. But the direction is clear.

 

Zakir Hussain’s Basic National Education (BNE) report:

  1. Another useful document in this regard is the BNE. The logical flow in this document may be somewhat amiss at one or two places in the beginning.
  2. But the rigorous derivation of educational aims from the vision of society, curricular objectives from the aims, and content from the objectives are starkly clear.
  3. These are coherent and rigorous documents because they place the values and principles of democracy and a morally, aesthetically and intellectually rich individual life at the starting point and try to resolve current economic problems in alignment with them. The current policy reverses the order.
  4. It is not that the content from these documents should be borrowed; rather, that the approach they take has much to teach. It is rigorous, rational, and very sound.

 

Conclusion:

It is time to again place the democratic ideal at the centre of our education. Not as an object of lip service or reverence, but as the source of a framework of values and principles to judge and justify all other aspects.

Let us remember that opinions without supporting arguments are nothing more than assertions.

And one citizen’s assertions are only as good as another’s. This leaves the conclusion of the debate to the most powerful.

The only way to wrest the judgment from the hands of the powerful is to have the curricular debates rooted in democratic values.