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From Vedic maths to zoonotic diseases: What ministries want in school curriculum

The suggestions are being examined by experts involved in revising the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), which will subsequently inform the changes in the NCERT textbooks. Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is in Bengaluru to hold discussions with members of the national steering committee leading the process.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
Updated: April 30, 2022 10:02:38 am
On April 22, the DST proposed that the school curriculum should introduce students to the concepts of "traditional knowledge, coding, patents, intellectual property rights and vedic maths".

An ongoing inter-ministerial consultation on revising the country’s school curriculum has seen a push to incorporate “emerging topics” such as “catastrophic consequences of zoonotic diseases”, Vedic mathematics, coding and Swachh Bharat to “reflect current realities and priorities”.

The suggestions are being examined by experts involved in revising the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), which will subsequently inform the changes in the NCERT textbooks. Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is in Bengaluru to hold discussions with members of the national steering committee leading the process.

The Ministry of Education launched the inter-ministerial consultation earlier this month. Records show that the Environment Ministry, Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) have shared lists of suggested topics.

On April 22, the DST proposed that the school curriculum should introduce students to the concepts of “traditional knowledge, coding, patents, intellectual property rights and vedic maths”.

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The MoHUA, in its proposal on April 21, said: “We need to inspire and motivate children and school students to be the messengers and facilitators of swachh behaviour” by incorporating concepts on sanitation as “formal part of school syllabus”.

A section on Swachh Bharat Mission, of the scheme’s rural as well urban aspects, would “reflect the current realities and priorities”, it said, adding that it should be done by imparting in class “key behavioural aspects” that could contribute to a Swachh Bharat.

According to the Environment Ministry’s proposal, sent on April 13, environment education should be taught from the pre-school level by introducing children to concepts that are practical in nature, like segregation and recycling of waste. It shared a total of 22 topics to be weaved into the curriculum till Class XII: from topics such as single-use plastic, microplastics found in personal care products, importance of conserving forests and wetlands at the preparatory stage (Classes III-V), to the “catastrophic consequences of zoonotic diseases and their origin due to human misadventures with wild animals” in Classes IX-XII.

The Environment Ministry said children should also learn about the “popular myths and superstitions associated with some wildlife species (like owl, turtle) which fuel their illegal trade, even driving them on the verge of extinction”.

“When humans inhabit and affect more natural habitats, the risk of zoonoses increases. In addition, conflicts may arise when predators come into contact with people, livestock and crops,” it said, outlining the broad themes of the suggested chapters.

It proposed “biodiversity registers” for students of Classes VI-VIII, which are meant to be documents containing information on “bioresources including the landscape and demography of a particular area or village”. Some of the other suggested topics include wildlife crime, circular economy, climate change and role of forests.

In her letter to the ministries, School Education Secretary Anita Karwal had said the consultation exercise is required as the National Education Policy 2020 needs to address concerns related to various ministries, in their areas of work and the target groups they cater to.

“It is requested to kindly provide us your valuable inputs, views and suggestions on the themes concerning your ministry for the education of our children, to facilitate its infusion with the four NCF developments. This will further facilitate the development of syllabus, textbooks, and training resources for successful transition of NEP 2020 goals,” Karwal wrote.

The NEP 2020 recommends the development of NCF in four areas: school education, early childhood care and education, teacher education and adult education. The 12-member steering committee with which Pradhan is holding consultations in Bengaluru is led by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan.

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