Updated: December 17, 2021 9:39:39 am
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has launched a review of syllabus and textbooks for schools to reduce the curriculum load on children from the next academic year to ensure that they make a “speedy recovery” in learning, which has been hit by Covid disruptions.
In a letter dated December 15, NCERT director in-charge Sridhar Srivastava wrote to the heads of departments of the Council to carry out the review by involving internal and external experts — and propose the changes by December 28.
Making a case for the review in his letter, Srivastava cited the pandemic during which students across grades have “struggled a lot” in learning through online and other modes. He also referred to observations of a Parliamentary Standing Committee and the National Education Policy 2020 in this regard.
“Though we are in the process of making our National Curriculum Frameworks, the development of new textbooks may take some time to come out. But in view of giving children the opportunity for speedy recovery in their learning continuum, NCERT needs to take a step towards rationalization of its syllabi and textbooks for the next year across the stages,” Srivastava wrote.
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“We have somewhat rationalised the textbooks at the primary stage for the next year. Given its continuity with higher stages, this exercise needs to be done in every subject area and for all the classes from VI to XII also,” he wrote.
What NEP advocates
National Education Policy 2020 states that reduction in content and increased flexibility of school curriculum — and renewed emphasis on constructive rather than rote learning — must be accompanied by changes in school textbooks.
In a report tabled on November 30, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education had praised the initiative of the Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production & Curriculum to lighten school bags.
“A similar approach may be adopted by others,” the panel said, adding that to avoid “content overload” on students, the NCERT should collaborate with state councils to identify specific historical figures for inclusion in the curriculum.
The NEP 2020 states that reduction in content and increased flexibility of school curriculum — and renewed emphasis on constructive rather than rote learning — must be accompanied by changes in school textbooks.
The NCERT has carried out two such review exercises since 2014.
In 2017, it made 1,334 changes, which included additions, correction and data update in 182 textbooks.
In 2019, it made key deletions, particularly in history textbooks. In Class 10, three chapters were deleted from the history textbook: one on the rise of nationalism in the Indo-China region, another that narrates the history of the contemporary world through novels, and a third on the development of cities.
In Class 9, too, three history chapters were deleted: one on clothing and how social movements influenced how we dressed, another on the history of cricket in India and its connection to the politics of caste, region and community, and the third on the growth of capitalism and how colonialism altered the lives of peasants and farmers.
In a written response in the Lok Sabha in 2019, the Ministry of Education had said that the deletions were necessary for children to pick up life skill education, value education, physical education and experiential learning — areas on which, it said, students could not pay enough attention due to the heavy curriculum.
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