Noting that the marksheet has become a “pressure sheet” for students and a “prestige sheet” for families, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his fourth speech on the new National Education Policy (NEP), urged on Friday that education be weaned away from high-stakes tests.
Speaking at a conclave organised by the Education Ministry, he said education in India had become marks-driven and not learning-driven, adding that the NEP recognised this as a major drawback. The education policy, only the third since Independence, focuses on moving education away from high-stakes tests and towards self-assessment and peer assessment, the PM said.
“Parents today do not ask their children what they have learned in school. Instead, they enquire about the marks scored in a test. The marksheet has become the family’s prestige sheet and a pressure sheet for the child. The National Education Policy’s main objective is to take this mental pressure off children,” he said.
Modi also made the case for teaching in the mother tongue — a suggestion in this regard by the NEP for students up to Class 5 has seen opposition, especially from parents with children in English-medium schools. The provision has found a mention in at least three of the four NEP-related speeches by the PM.
On Friday, he referred to countries doing well in PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) rankings to stress on the importance of mother tongue in classroom teaching. Pointing out that the NEP doesn’t prohibit teaching of English or any other foreign language in school, Modi said, “If you look at countries like Japan, Estonia, Finland that do well in PISA, all of them teach children in their mother tongue. Teaching in mother tongue helps the child learn faster. When they are taught in any other language, they first translate the information into their mother tongue in their heads and then process it. This can be stressful for such young kids.”
The PM added, “Also, keeping the medium of instruction in school in a language other than the mother tongue creates a wall between parents and their children as the former cannot feel involved in their learning. This is why wherever possible the medium of instruction should be the mother tongue or local language, at least till Class 5.”
Although a majority of pre-primary schools in the country teach in the local language or mother tongue, the share of children going to English-medium schools has been rising steadily. According to the latest all-India survey conducted by the National Statistical Office, over 50 per cent of children in nursery and KG, who spoke one of 13 regional languages at home, including Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Punjabi, were enrolled in English-medium schools.
The PM also stressed on the importance of improving basic reading skills, saying the journey from “learn to read” to “read to learn” can be completed through the foundational literacy and numeracy plan mentioned in the NEP. “We have to ensure that all children who have passed Class 3 should be able to read 30 to 35 words in a minute. This is called oral reading fluency. If we are able to do this, then the students will be able to understand the content of other subjects easily,” he said.
Calling for experiential learning, Modi said “engage, explore, experience, express and excel” should be the mantra of school education. “Students should participate in projects as per their interest and explore topics based on their experience. This can be their personal experience or corroborative experience. This will help them tread the path of excellence.”
Since the NEP was announced on July 29, the Education Ministry, on instructions from the Prime Minister’s Office, has been hosting seminars to spread awareness about the policy and discuss its implementation with stakeholders. Friday’s conclave was part of this exercise.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines