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Gender equality, pride in India: What govt aims to achieve with new school curriculum under NEP

Mandate document for new National Curriculum Framework, being devised as part of NEP, gives focus groups instructions on drafting new curriculum road map for schools. 

Union Minister for Education Dharmendra Pradhan in conversation with former ISRO Chairman K. Kasturirangan at the release of the mandate document for the NCF at  IISc in Bengaluru | ANI photo 
Union minister for education Dharmendra Pradhan in conversation with former ISRO chairman K. Kasturirangan at the release of the mandate document for the NCF at  IISc in Bengaluru | ANI photo 

New Delhi: The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) released a mandate document Friday that will pave the way for the development of the new National Curriculum Framework (NCF) — a document that will outline the school syllabus across the country for years to come.

The NCF, a document that is referred to while designing school textbooks, is being developed as part of the government’s new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 — a plan that proposes sweeping reforms in the country’s education sector. The process is led by an expert committee headed by former ISRO chief K. Kasturirangan, who was also at the helm of shaping the NEP.

Through the new curriculum, the government wants children to develop a “rootedness and pride in India” and a “sense of service” to the country and the world, among other qualities, the document said.

“In total, there are over 700 focus groups currently working on inputs for the NCF. It, therefore, becomes necessary that there be a clear mechanism that ensures that all these important contributors to the NCF are on the same page and working in synergy towards clear and common goals,” read the mandate document.

The curriculum framework that is currently referred to in India is the 2005 framework.

The mandate document says that the new curriculum is aimed at helping students develop, foundational literacy and numeracy, constitutional and other human values, including gender equality, 21st-century capacities, including speaking, writing, multilingualism, scientific temper, artistry, and aesthetics, problem-solving, sustainable living, cultural literacy, socio-emotional capacities, and, the ability to continue to learn on one’s own over a lifetime and preparedness for higher education and gainful employment.

The mandate document gives instructions and points to ponder over to the focus groups developing the curriculum. It also gives specific, subject-wise directions on how to go about developing the curriculum for arts, science, mathematics, environmental science, and other subjects, keeping “Indian roots” in mind.

For mathematics, it says, focus groups must think of how “Indian knowledge systems” should be incorporated into the curriculum, and “how the contribution of India to the world of mathematics” can be addressed.

For environmental education, the document asks focus groups: “How would local knowledge and knowledge of Indian contexts be explored and embedded within the environmental education curriculum?”

“How could India’s traditional perceptions of and connectedness with the natural world help promote environmental awareness and sensitivity?” the document asks.

Similar points are mentioned for arts and science education.

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Language education

It also asks at what grade must English be introduced as a subject, and how the three-language formula be implemented.

“When should the second and third languages be introduced? How can students be given flexibility in choosing their second and third languages,” the document asks.

The “three-language formula” is a policy first devised by the central government in 1968 and has been incorporated into the NEP. The formula stipulated that students from Hindi-speaking states take up English, Hindi, and a modern Indian language, while students from non-Hindi-speaking states also take up Hindi, English, and one Indian language.

One of the points for developing language education says, “What should be the approach to ensure that students are familiar with inspiring Indian literature (including from local and tribal traditions, some of which are oral) and also world literature?”

The document says the “aim of the NCF is to help in positively transforming the school education system of India as envisioned in the NEP 2020, through corresponding positive changes in the curriculum including pedagogy”.

“It is this holistic overall transformation of the curriculum that will enable us to positively transform overall learning experiences for students,” it adds.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

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