Good news for school students — they will now have to carry less burden on their mind with HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar announcing that NCERT syllabus will be reduced by half from the 2019 session onwards.
Yeshwanth Raj Parasmal tells you what it means
The reduction of syllabus by 50 per cent is a watershed reform for the Indian school education system. It acknowledges that in the 21st century, where information is ubiquitous, students need to develop skills and conceptual understanding, rather than memorising content.
The 5 Good
- It will create an eco-system that would help us all realise what Elliot Eisner said: “The major aim of schooling is to enable students to become the architects of their own education so that they can invent themselves during the course of their lives.’
- The reduced syllabus will allow teachers and students time to dive deeper into learning. The focus would shift from ‘covering’ syllabus in class to a ‘mastery’ of concepts. Content has always dominated the classroom. Now the time is to focus on pedagogy. Schools will be able to focus on how students learn rather than what teachers teach.
- By reducing the syllabus, the stress level of teachers would also reduce significantly. A less stressed teacher is a happy teacher and a more engaged and committed one.
- The current assessment regime of the annual exam system will be less of a burden with this new initiative. It will also enable assessment patterns where we can evaluate the ability of students to apply the mastery of concepts in different contexts and situations. It will go beyond rote learning, or ‘learning by heart’. Assessment of skills through project-based learning and design thinking will become important.
- The teachers will have more time in hand for important learning areas like sports, arts, computers etc and, most importantly, development of 21st century skills like creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking.
Internationally, the schools have shifted focus from content to skills. The 21st century is defined by transformative technologies that are redefining the way we work, collaborate, communicate and socialise; the students will now need to inculcate skills that will help them stay relevant in these changing times.
The P21, a US-based non-profit organisation, representing over five million members of the global workforce, believes that learning and innovation skills are increasingly being recognised as the skills that separate students prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments and those who are not. Focus on creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration is essential to prepare students for the future.
Our National Curriculum Framework was last reviewed and approved in 2005. Now is the time to re-imagine it. Our existing syllabus, assessment and pedagogy do not reflect the real-world changes. It certainly is not positioned to prepare students for the complex, challenging and uncertain future ahead.
The reduced syllabus will hopefully shift focus to the real issues that will make the 16 years of education a worthwhile and joyful experience for students.
The school curriculum must be seen as a continuum. Ron Ritchhart of Harvard University challenged us to think differently when he stated: “What if education were less about acquiring skills and knowledge and more about cultivating the dispositions and habits of mind that students will need for a lifetime of learning, problem-solving and decision making? What if education were less concerned with the end-of-year exam and more concerned with who students become as a result of their schooling? What if we viewed smartness as a goal that students can work towards rather than as something they either have or don’t?”
- More time for development of 21st century skills like creativity, communication, collaboration, etc
- More time for diving deep into each concept so that the students can master the content (be able to apply the knowledge in different contexts)
- More time for arts. We recommend a detailed framework on Arts as a core subject which can focus on drawing, sketching, various forms of painting, craft, clay modeling, digital arts, graphic designing etc.
- More time for Science with focus on technology, Robotics and Engineering. The initiatives of NITI Ayog on Tinkering Lab will get a boost as well.
- Life skills programme can be introduced that will cover financial literacy, decision-making skills, adolescence education programme, global citizenship etc.
- More time for understanding the self through value education.
Affect on students
We will be failing our students and an entire generation if we continue to focus on content and vast syllabus that has little relevance in terms of its application in real world. The stress of students and staff in these 16 years of education has to be reduced and dealt with. It is no longer a question of whether we need to reduce the syllabus, the right question is ‘by how much’? A bad curriculum well taught is a better experience than a good curriculum badly taught. The reduced syllabus will make learning joyful, make life less stressful and shift the focus on ‘real-life’ deeper learning.