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Dinesh Prasad Saklani: ‘Ideology no problem… When we’re objective, there’s no bias’

Prof Dinesh Prasad Saklani, who has taken charge as the director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), said implementing the National Education Policy and ensuring the smooth completion of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) revision exercise are among his priorities.

Dinesh Prasad Saklani, Dinesh Prasad Saklani news, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), NCERT, National Curriculum Framework (NCF),Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsDinesh Prasad Saklani (Photo: Facebook@Dinesh Saklani)

Prof Dinesh Prasad Saklani took charge as the director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) on Monday, ending a period of more than a year during which it did not have a full-time head.

He will steer NCERT at a time when the autonomous body under the Ministry of Education will closely work with the committee set up to revise the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), based on which changes will be brought in school textbooks.

Speaking to The Indian Express on Wednesday, Saklani, who was a professor of history at the HNB Garhwal University, said implementing the National Education Policy, 2020 and ensuring the smooth completion of the NCF revision exercise are among his priorities.

You have taken charge at a time the gradual implementation of the National Education Policy is ushering in changes in the education system. What are your immediate priorities?

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The mandate of our NEP is our mandate. For that purpose, the National Curriculum Framework is being revised and a steering committee is working on it. They have formed 25 focus groups which are going to frame the guidelines for the position papers. The guidelines are almost final. We will have a meeting in the first week of March for getting the guidelines from the committee. Once the guidelines are out, then work on position papers will start. And after that, the path will be clear for syllabi preparation, and simultaneously, we will identify scholars for writing the books… My larger vision is to turn NCERT into an institute of national importance.

What are the changes that you plan to introduce in NCERT?

We cannot introduce change. We are implementing the proposals in the NEP in toto as per the timeframe. But in order to implement the NEP within the stipulated time frame, the institute needs to gear up. So, re-energising NCERT is a high priority. By re-energising, I am essentially referring to the need to fill more than half the positions that are vacant. If we do not have teachers, how do we deliver the curriculum? My priority will be to get the vacant posts filled up at the earliest possible in a very transparent way.

How many posts are vacant?

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Taking all the constituent bodies of NCERT, such as the five Regional Institutes of Education, the National Institute of Education and the Institute of Vocational Education, there are around 1,075 vacant posts.

Coming back to NCF, curriculum and syllabi revision exercises in the past have always drawn charges of ideological refashioning. What is your take on this?

Ideology is something different. We are professionals. We are not going to indulge in any ideological sort of thing. What we will do is we will follow the guidelines of NEP. Ideology is not a problem for us.

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A member of the NCF steering committee said recently that Indian students are not exposed to the country’s rich intellectual and artistic heritage

You see, he also said objectivity is important. It also means professionalism. When we are objective, then there is no bias. When we are subjective, then there are biases. Objectivity is the approach of a professional.

Apart from NCF revision, NCERT is currently rationalising textbooks to reduce curriculum load

The (rationalisation) exercise is almost complete. I am reviewing as to what extent we have progressed. The progress is very satisfactory. It is being done keeping in mind that by April, we must have the books.

Textbooks are being rationalised when NCERT already has a stock of about 3 crore books worth over Rs 200 crore. What will happen to this stock?

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That will be consumed by the time the new books come. They (the books) are not going to be wasted, because bringing out new books will take some time. I am presuming you are referring to the rationalisation that will happen in accordance with the NCF and NEP.

No, I was referring to the separate rationalisation exercise to reduce curriculum overload

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That will be addressed very judiciously. Nothing is going to be wasted. We are looking into the issue. We will try our best to protect public money. How that will be done is something we will address. But the outcome will be satisfactory.

Just before you took over, there was a controversy over NCERT removing a teaching manual on transgender children

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It was not developed at that time. They (the panel that drafted the manual) committed a mistake. They may have done it in a hurry, not purposely. Whenever any manual has to be developed, a lot of research material has to be collected. They collected research material and uploaded that on the website. That was not the module. We are doing it for the first time. Work is underway and we will come up with a good module,which will be acceptable and there will be no controversy.

First published on: 17-02-2022 at 04:20:19 am
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