New Delhi: The proposed syllabus cuts for Class 10 and 12 students, to make up for missed classes due to the Covid-19 lockdown, will not result in the deletion of entire chapters, ThePrint has learnt.
Instead, the experts tasked with the exercise have been asked to trim the syllabus by eliminating repetitions in themes and topics, government documents suggest.
The Modi government is looking to reduce the syllabus for academic session 2020-21 because the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent social-distancing guidelines have eaten into the school calendar.
Although schools across India offered online lessons to make up for the lost time, many students were not able to access them, which led the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development to settle for syllabus cuts instead.
Classes 10 and 12 have been prioritised in this “syllabus rationalisation” exercise because they culminate in board exams, whose results help guide a student’s subsequent academic path.
“We have started with the classes that will go for board exams next year, at a later stage, syllabus for other classes will also be rationalised,” an official from the HRD Ministry said.
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Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ had, earlier this month, asked the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to work on the rationalisation of syllabus.
According to internal communications accessed by ThePrint, the experts handling this exercise have been asked to keep learning outcomes in mind while making their decisions.
Rather than recommending removing entire chapters, they have been told, they should reduce topics/themes or content that is “either repeated or overlapped” or if the “learning outcomes related to it are covered under other chapters”, the documents suggest.
Themes and topics are portions under a larger head in a chapter. For example, there is a chapter about ‘Acids, Bases and Salts’ in the Class 10 science book. One of the topics in the chapter talks about the “Reaction of Metal with Acids and Salts”, which has also been dealt with in another chapter called ‘Metals and Non-metals’.
Similarly, in the Class 12 biology book, there is a chapter on ‘Principles of Inheritance and Variation’, which includes themes and topics such as ‘Mutation’ and ‘Genetic Disorders’. However, identical themes, like studying the genetic code and DNA, have also been covered in a chapter called ‘Molecular Basis of Inheritance’.
Such repetitions, the documents suggest, will be the target of the rationalisation exercise.
A senior CBSE official confirmed as much. “We have been working along with the NCERT for syllabus rationalisation. According to our discussions, it has been decided that rather than reducing a complete chapter, themes will be reduced,” the official said.
In order to compensate for the reduced topics, the documents further reveal, the experts have been asked to “include an assignment or project” to plug any conceptual gaps.
The experts have also been asked to give explanations for why exactly they have suggested the removal of a given section. The reduced syllabus is supposed to be finalised by July, after approval from the authorities.
‘Retaining the core’
The rationalisation advice handed out to the experts is in line with a statement given by CBSE chairman Manoj Ahuja during a virtual conference organised by Ashoka University earlier this month. “We are rationalising the curriculum, we plan to retain the core,” he had said.
Earlier this month, the HRD minister also asked teachers and educationists to send in their advice for the syllabus rationalisation exercise via social media.
He said a number of parents had been writing to the ministry to request syllabus reduction so that students are able to cope once the session starts.
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