Curriculum typically refers to the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn, which includes the learning standards or learning objectives they are expected to meet; the units and lessons that teachers teach; the assignments and projects given to students; the books, materials, videos, presentations, and readings used in a course; and the tests, assessments, and other methods used to evaluate student learning.
Thus, curriculum is of enormous importance in the teaching-learning process today. There is no universally acceptable definition of curriculum nor is possible to have one because the curriculum of an educational system depends upon the philosophy and ideology of a nation. And philosophy and ideology of nations varies from one another. Curriculum emerged as a subject of study during the latter half of the 20th Century. It was, however, first used by Bobbit in 1918. Etymologically the word ‘curriculum’ is derived from a Latin word ‘Currere’ which implies ‘run’. Hence, curriculum implies a course to be run for reaching a specified goal.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Education is considered as a process of all round development of the child.
One of the important features of Right to Education was the introduction of Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE). It is a system which holistically attempts to develop the skills of students in all areas of life which includes Life skills, Attitudes, Values, Sports and Games as well as Co-curricular activities. In order to make the students stress-free. Recommendations regarding reducing an emphasis on external examination and encouraging internal assessment through School-Based Continuous and Comprehensive Education. The system also tries to eliminate cramming and mugging up of studies. The concept of CCE which were copied from the West had serious implications when it comes to implementing in other countries.
CCE was first implemented in Mizoram Education system in the year 2011.With scarce resources teachers were trained and were expected to teach irrespective of the absence of facilities required by the teacher to teach the students. Moreover, since the CCE brought a paradigm shift from examination to effective pedagogy majority of the teachers that were employed in schools were untrained. The concept of ‘Absence of failure’ encourages children to take life less seriously and makes them negligent on their books. Not only has this, blind learning of the course failed to bring about the holistic development of the child in different areas. Therefore, in the process, education is taken for granted not as an institute for acquiring knowledge but as a necessity. The CCE was established keeping in mind the children to use as much practical studies as possible. This idea however did not yield the desired result as number of unemployed Mizo youths are raising year after year. With Mizoram ranking the third highest literate states in India, CCE as a system seemed to go nowhere in linking the growing menace of unemployment. If so what are the roles of education and its system for?
RATIONALE FOR THE TOPIC
“It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be more than sufficient to get you through the examination, which, after all, is what school is all about. As long as you have studied the theory hard enough, there is no reason why you should not be able to perform the spells under carefully controlled examination conditions,” said Professor Umbridge dismissively.
“Without ever practicing them beforehand?” said Parvati incredulously.
“Are you telling us that the first time we’ll get to do the spells will be during the exam?”
“I repeat, as long as you have studied the theory hard enough-”
“And what good’s theory going to be in the real world?” said Harry loudly, his fist in the air again.
Professor Umbridge looked up.
“This is school, Mr Potter, not the real world,” she said softly. … “And now you will kindly continue reading. Page five, ‘Basics for Beginners’.” (Rowling 2013: 220)
The research topic that I took interest revolved around the concept of curriculum and how curriculum is formed in India. How knowledge is imparted through these curriculums and what counts as ‘knowledge’ primarily focussing on analysing 2-3 schools and the differences in their curriculums.
Bhatia (2010) stated that Mizoram is a society in transition. Its people entered the twentieth century confining in remote and obscure hilly tracts practicing an animistic faith and completely unlettered. Today, modernization, chiefly Christianity, urbanization and political awakening has swept the lands of Mizoram in recent decades; the forces of globalization are all set to further transform the Mizo society. At such juncture, it is important to understand the importance and impact of the curriculum formation and the impact it has on society.
What counts as school knowledge is always considered a contested issue. Interestingly, it is important that this should be seen as something more than simply a power play between contending social interest .Account needs to be taken of how knowledge is developed (and acquired) within a particular epistemic communities or ‘cultures’.
This study therefore aims to focus on analysing the history of curriculum formulation in India and analyse its setbacks when it comes to applying it in various regions and how . Accounts needs to be taken of how knowledge is developed (and acquired) within an epistemic communities or cultures. The outcomes of a dispute about knowledge are not mere academic issues. They directly affect the learning opportunities for pupils in schools and have wider consequences through the principles by which knowledge is distributed in society. (Kumar, 2001)
This dissertation will also try to analyse three different types of curriculum present in three different schools in Mizoram. The names are as follows: (1) La Montessori School (2) Faith Academy (3) Tiny Tots school. These schools each run with different courses and syllabuses wherein varied teaching techniques are applied.
To study the education policy of Post Independent India.
To analyse the National Curriculum framework (2005)
To have a comparative study of three different types of curriculums in Mizoram.
This study will be conducted using qualitative research. Primary and secondary sources of data will be used. Content analysis shall be used in analysing the articles and interview techniques shall be used.
Content analysis is a research method used to analyse social life by interpreting words and images from documents, film, art, music, and other cultural products and media. The researcher looks at how the words and images are used, and the context in which they are used-particularly to draw inferences about the underlying culture.
Content analysis can help researchers study fields of sociology that are otherwise difficult to analyse, such as gender issues, human resources, policy and organizational theory.
It has been used extensively to examine the place of women in society. In advertising, for example, women tend to be portrayed as subordinate, often through their lower physical positioning in relation to the males or the unassertive nature of their poses or gestures.
HISTORY OF CONTENT ANALYSIS
Prior to the advent of computers, content analysis was a slow and painstaking process and it was impractical for large texts or bodies of data. At first, researchers mainly perform word counts in texts of particular words. Prior to the advent of computers, content analysis was a slow, painstaking process, and was impractical for large texts or bodies of data. At first, researchers mainly performed word counts in texts of particular words. However, that changed once mainframe computers were developed, providing researchers with the ability to crunch larger amounts of data automatically. This allowed them to expand their work beyond individual words to include concepts and semantic relationships. Today, content analysis is used in a huge number of fields, including marketing, political science, psychology, and sociology, in addition to gender issues within society.
TYPES OF CONTENT ANALYSIS
Researchers now recognize several different types of content analysis, each of which embraces a slightly different approach. According to a report in the medical journal Qualitative Health Research, there are three different types: conventional, directed, and summative. “In conventional content analysis, coding categories are derived directly from the text data. With a directed approach, analysis starts with a theory or relevant research findings as guidance for initial codes. A summative content analysis involves counting and comparisons, usually of keywords or content, followed by the interpretation of the underlying context,” the authors wrote. Other experts write about the difference between conceptual analysis and relational analysis. Conceptual analysis determines how often a text uses certain words or phrases, while relational analysis determines how those words and phrases relate to certain broader concepts. Conceptual analysis is the more traditionally used form of content analysis.
HOW RESEARCHERS PERFORM CONTENT ANALYSIS
Typically, researchers start by identifying questions they would like to answer through content analysis. For example, they might want to consider how women are portrayed in advertising. If so, the researchers would choose a data set of advertising—perhaps the scripts for a series of television commercials—to analyse. They then would look at the use of certain words and images. To continue the example, the researchers might study the television ads for stereotypical gender roles, for language implying that women in the commercials were less knowledgeable than the men, and for sexual objectification of either gender. Content analysis can be used to provide insights into particularly complex subjects like gender relations. It does, however, have some disadvantages: it’s labour-intensive and time-consuming, and researchers can bring inherent bias into the equation when formulating a research project.
Interviewing is probably the most common data collection technique in social sciences. It is virtually impossible to do a research project without an interview. Interview is time consuming but is especially useful because of its flexibility. Interviews can take many different forms and allow in-depth follow-up questions. The style can range from guided conversations to highly structured questionnaires. They are useful for all ages and for those with language difficulties. There are three types of interviews: the unstructured, structured and semi-structured interviews.
””””’According to Denzin and Lincoln, qualitative research is “an interpretative naturalistic approach to the world. This means that qualitative researcher study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.” (Denzin and Lincoln 1994)
The common characteristics of qualitative research are as follows-
Aims and Objectives that are directed at providing an in-depth and interpreted understanding of the social world of research participants by learning about the sense they make of their social and material circumstances, their experiences, perspectives and histories.
Analysis that retains complexity and nuance and respects the uniqueness of each participant or case as well as recurrent, cross-cutting themes.
Data that are detailed rich and complex (the depth and complexity may vary between studies).
The use of non-standardised, adaptable methods of data generation that are sensitive to the social context of the study and can be adapted for each participant or case to allow the exploration of emergent issues.
A reflexive approach where the role and perspective of the researcher in the research process is acknowledged. For some researchers, reflexivity also means reporting their personal experiences of the field.
Openness to emergent categories and theories at the analysis and interpretation stage.
Outputs and includes detailed descriptions of the phenomena being researched, grounded in the perspectives and accounts of participants
SOCIOLOGY OF CURRICULUM: THEMES AND PERSPECTIVES
There is an encompassing relationship between the society and curriculum because school exists within the societal context. Though there are other units and institutions that educate or influence the way people think like families or communities, school still remains one of the most basic institutions in imparting the essential skills and values through certain sets of curriculums. Thus we can say that a curriculum prepares an individual with the knowledge to overcome the challenges of society. Michael Young (1998) believed in the principle that the curriculum we construct today should not just concern itself with the perceived needs of today or even the imagined individual and collective economic needs of the future, but should also be constructed around a vision or ‘concept’ of the kind of future society we might wish our education systems to help bring about.
In the social sciences, engagement with the pursuit of education has largely been restricted to the discipline of Philosophy for long. However, in recent times, after the behavioural and social science gained prominence, scholars of psychology, economy, sociology and political science have focussed their attention on the phenomenon of education as well. Given their diverse orientations, they have examined the concept of education in their own distinctive ways. All have broadly viewed education as being connected with activities related to learning, usually, though not necessarily, within the context of schools (Bhatia,2010)
With the advancement of technology and the ever changing contextualities of the subject, inter-disciplinary influences and changing consumer demands, problem arises in the framing of curriculums to meet the desired demands. On a workshop conducted by Pune University Sociology Department, Y.B Damle was of the opinion that the purpose of curriculum formation was to make knowledge and information available and up to date and to standardize the information in the syllabus across different universities and institutions. Though there is no particular ideal syllabus it is important to take into account the nature of its students and other sub-regional variations while framing its syllabus.
The future cannot be known, but we must debate its possible shapes. (Coffield and Williamson 2011:17).The role of curriculum is to equip students with professionalism and would inculcate a set of minimum analytical skills and some kind of a consensus about the nature of information that needs to be transmitted. Today, issue of unemployment and lack of job became an issue in the field of sociology. This issue became an important factor that brought a decline in the number of students to the MA and PhD programmes. Therefore, sociology as a discipline had to step up to the employability criteria in order to create its sustainability. S.P Pulanekar highlighted that paucity of jobs is not the important issue but stressed on the need for the discipline to realise its potential and tap areas where it could make a contribution. Courses like sociology of tourism, sociology of electronic or print media, sociology of counselling and consultancy and sociology of planning were a few suggested courses prescribed by Sudha Kaldate.
As far as pedagogy is concerned students admitted to the graduate and post-graduate came from different class, caste, gender and ethnic backgrounds. This creates differences in the way they perceive the relevance of the course. Therefore U.B Bhoite felt that the whole exercise of the curriculum formation has to be seen from the secondary school level, up to the post graduate level and a change in issues and themes in the university level.
The Education commission (1964-1966) chaired by DS Kothari made valuable set of recommendations on financing education in India. However one of the key focus of this commission were influenced by the “human investment revolution in economic thought” which was created by Schultz (1961), according to which investment in education leads to human capital formation which in turn contributes to economic growth. The Kothari commission also put importance and recommended on financing of education i.e. allocation of not less than 6 per cent of national income to education. The UNESCO and UNDP also favoured it, as a desirable level for the developing countries. However, despite the wide acceptance of the recommendation and despite making it part of the NPE in 1986, which were approved by the Parliament, the implementation has been very tardy. As Shah (2006) commented in this regard, “the more unfortunate and disturbing long-term trend in this regard is the slackening of government effort to mobilise required resources during the period of high economic growth (1986-87 to 2001-02) compared to that of low-economic growth (1966-67 to 1985-86)”. Tilak (1984,1986a) concludes that the percentage of national income a nation allocates to education is not determined by the level of economic development, but by other factors, the most important being political will.
The policy over the past 40 years which were guided by the political forces and electoral compulsions have become stronger since then .The policy continues to be driven by the ideologues and vested interests. The old ideologues that saw expansion of higher education for its own sake are now joined by those who would like higher enrolment ratios which were comparable to the advanced countries with disregards to the structure of India’s economy.
The earlier vested interest mainly from the academic community that saw opportunity for personal advancement through expansion of higher education have been joined by private promoters of higher education who see big money in the rapidly growing demand for higher education. Over the past 60 years while the population increased three fold, higher education grew more than100 times. Private higher education grew rapidly after 1980’s and has now moved from the periphery to the centre stage.
Project enrolment in higher education based on the selected educational statistics (SES) of the ministry of human resource development for the year 2006-07 is 12.82 million. This amounts to a gross enrolment ratio (GER) of 9.7 per cent. The GER measures the access level by taking the ratio of persons of all ages enrolled in the higher education programmes to the total population in age groups of 18 to 23 years. The country aspires to reach a GER of 15 per cent by the year 2011, the terminal year of the Eleventh Five Year Plan.
Projections based on the population census 2001 suggest that the total enrolment in higher education is now20.7 million with GER of 15.6 per cent. The National sample survey, 2003 gave enrolment figures in between. The census figures are much higher than the figures collected by the government. Though the census estimates may be treated as upper bound estimates, yet it seems to suggest that the country may have already achieved the enrolment targets set for Eleventh Five Year Plan in its first year itself.
This fixing of enrolment targets is meaningless for yet another reason. Experience over the last two decade suggested that expansion in enrolment has been largely in the private institutions; public investment hardly added any new capacity. Rather than numbers, quality is often the issue here. While some oversupply of qualified people usually helps in putting the economy on higher productivity growth path, a large mismatch can however result in an acute problem of underemployment and underemployment of graduates.
While the policy debate continues to be marred by the rhetoric and ideologies, the report on higher education submitted by Sam Pitroda on behalf of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) on January 12, 2007 is a significant departure from the usual policy discourse. It is not based on any ideology; neither does it serve any vested interest. It takes into account the ground realities relating to economic and social forces operating in the country. Due to its set up outside the purview of the administrative ministry, it has been able to take an objective view of the role of the government in recommending an independent regulatory authority at an arm’s length from the government and independent from all its stakeholders. The commission also makes bold statements towards de-politicization of higher education.
Some of the list of recommendations the Pitroda Commission has provided are as follows:
It has recommended transition to course credit system to bring about more flexibility in course structure.
Decentralise examination system with focus on internal assessment, periodic revision and re-structuring of curricula and criteria-based resource allocation to ensure maintenance of standards and promote excellence.
The commission also suggested that foreign education institutions should be allowed in with policies to ensure that there is incentive for good institutions and dis-incentives for sub-standard institutions to come to India.
On fees and financing, it suggested that those who can, must pay ,and those who cannot, must not be denied admission but provide scholarships.
In recommending salary differentials within and between universities, the commission has suggested practical ways of attracting and retaining talented faculty.
It also advocating a needs-blind admission policy along with a well-funded, extensive and targeted National Scholarship Schemes, the commission suggests a balance between merit and equity.
In all, the short report of the commission has several useful prescriptions; its strength is in its objective analysis of the reality and right diagnosis of the problems. It provides a good analysis of the deep crisis in higher education in India. It gives broad reforms and has the potential to become the base document for devising a policy of higher education with built-in flexibility that allows flexibility that allows experimentation and innovation as advocated by DS Kothari.
The report to the Nation 2006, produced by the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) did deal with most of the concerns on Indian higher education system along with general prescriptions for dealing with them .Such prescriptions have been advanced more elaborately for the past six decades, but with disappointing results .Several new disturbing trends that are not considered in the report which grouped under
(1) Expansion and structural configuration: The report suggests an increase in the number of universities nationwide to around 1,500 by 2015 with a focus on new universities and also some formed by clustering of the existing affiliated colleges. The affiliation system that has been contagious was dealt with by the Kothari Commission at a considerable length. Some universities have as many as 600 affiliated colleges. Of nearly 17,700 colleges 7,650 are under unaided private management and another 5,750 are under aided private management and there are only 4,300 government colleges. During the past five years the increase in the enrolment in the Government and aided colleges is a mere 4% compared to 77% in private unaided colleges. The affiliation system has to be eliminated or contained to ensure a scope for quality of higher education. The ambivalent status of the private institutions-permitted to operate under the cloak of “charitable” institutions, but in-fact is de-facto profit – oriented commercial establishments –in inimical to national interest.
(2) Curricular concern: The report contains a compendium of curricular concerns relating to the quality of higher education. This includes such aspects as rigid and compartmental curricular structure, out-dated teaching, learning and evaluation practices; obsolete course contents; lack of mobility within and outside the institutions; and so on. Despite the witness of all these drawbacks, no significant improvement has taken place. The credit system has to be followed by our institutions which can be achieved only through determined policy to transform the evaluation practices. The report only assumes that there is only one accrediting agency, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and that it had monopoly over accreditation whilst other form of accreditation systems like National Board of Accreditation (NBA) and many others have been ignored. Furthermore, universities and colleges must have the functional autonomy within the framework to innovate the curriculum, forge links with other institutions and deal with sponsoring and funding of agencies.
Ever since 1986 when the National Policy on Education was approved by Parliament, efforts to redesign the curriculum have been focused on the creation of a national system of education. Since Independence, the accomplishments of our Indian education system have much to be satisfied for. Today, our country engages nearly 55lakh teachers spread over around 10 lakh schools to educate about 2,025 lakh children. While 82% of inhabitations have primary schools within a radius of one kilometre, there is an upper primary school within 3 kilometres for 75% of the inhabitations. At least 50% of our children who appear at the school leaving examinations pass out of the secondary school system. Despite these trends , 37% people in India lack literacy skills, about 53% drop-out at the elementary stage and over 75% of our rural schools are multi-grade. Further there is a deep disquiet about several aspects of our educational practice: (a) the school system is characterised by an inflexibility that makes it resistant to change; (b) learning has become an isolated activity, which does not encourage children to link their knowledge with their lives in any organic or vital way; (c) schools promote a regime of thought that discourages creative thinking and insights; (d) what is presented and transmitted in schools in the name of learning bypasses vital dimensions of the human capacity to create new knowledge; the “future ” of the child has taken centre stage to the near exclusion of the child’s “present”, which is detrimental to the well-being of the child as well as the society and the nation.
The review of the National Curriculum Framework, 2000 was initiated specifically to address the problem of curriculum load on children. A committee appointed by the Ministry of Human Development in the early 1990’s had analysed this problem, tracing its roots to the system’s tendency to treat information as knowledge.
In its report, Learning without Burden, the committee pointed out that learning at school cannot become a joyful experience unless we change our perception of the child as a receiver of knowledge and move beyond the convention of using textbooks as the basis for examination. The impulse to teach everything arises from lack of faith in children’s own creative instinct and their capacity to construct knowledge out of their experience. The size of textbooks has been growing over the years, even as the pressure to include new topics mounts and the efforts to synthesis knowledge and treat it holistically gets weaker. Flabby textbooks, and the syllabus they cover, symbolises a systematic failure to address children in a child-centred manner. Those who write such encyclopaedic textbooks are guided by the popular belief that there has been an explosion of knowledge. Therefore, vast amounts of knowledge should be pushed down the throats of little children in order to catch up with their countries.
Learning Without Burden recommended a major change in the design of the syllabi and textbooks, and also a change in the social ethos, which place stress on children to become aggressively competitive .To make teaching a means of harnessing the child’s creative nature, the report recommended a fundamental change in the matter of organising the school curriculum, and also in the system of examination, which forces children to memorise the information and to reproduce it.
Learning for the sake of being examined in a mechanical manner takes away the joy of being young and de-links school knowledge from everyday experience. To address this deep structural problem, the document draws upon and elaborates on the insights of Learning without Burden. Rather than prescribe, this document seeks to enable teachers and administrators and other agencies involved in the design of syllabi and textbooks and examination reform make rational choices and decisions. It will also enable them to develop and implement innovative, locale- specific programmes. By contextualizing the challenges involved in curriculum renewal in contemporary social reality, this document draws attention to certain specific problems that demand an imaginative response.
NATIONAL CURRICUMUM FRAMEWORK
The National Curriculum Framework is one of the four National Curriculum Frameworks published in 1975, 1988, 2000 and 2005 by the National Council of Educational Research Training NCERT in India. The document provided a framework for making a syllabi, textbooks and teaching practices within the school education programmes in India.
NCERT NCF 2005 has been translated into 22 languages and has influenced the syllabi in 17 states. The NCERT gave a grant to each state to promote NCF in the language of the State and to compare its current syllabus with the syllabus proposed, so that a plan for reforms could be made. Several States have taken up this challenge. The exercise is being carried out with the involvement of State Councils for Educational Reach and Training (SCERT) and District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET).
The NCF 2005 Document is divided into 5 areas:
1. Perspective: guiding principles
2. Learning and Knowledge
3. Curriculum Areas
4. School and classroom environment
5. Systemic reforms.
Ever since 1986 when the National Policy on Education was approved by the Parliament, efforts were made to re-design the curriculum have been focused on the creation of a national system of education.
There has been a deep disquiet about several aspects of our educational practice: (a)the school system is characterised by an inflexibility that makes it resistant to change; (b) Learning has become an isolated activity, which does not encourage children to link knowledge with their lives in any organic or vital way; (c) schools promote a regime of thought that discourages creative thinking and insights; (d) what is presented and transmitted in the name of learning in schools bypasses vital dimensions of the human capacity to create new knowledge; (e) the ‘future’ of the child has taken centre stage to the near exclusion of the child’s ‘present’, which is detrimental to the well-being of the child as well as the society and the nation. The basic concern of education to enable children to make sense of life and to develop their potential, to define and pursue a purpose and recognise the right of others to do the same-stand uncontested and valid even today.The review of the National Curriculum Framework, 2000 was initiated specifically to address the problem of ‘curriculum load’ on children. A Ministry of Human Resource Development in the early 1990’s had analysed this problem and gave a report called ‘Learning Without Burden’ wherein the committee pointed out that learning at school cannot become a joyful experience unless we change our perception of the child as a receiver of knowledge and move beyond the convention of using textbooks as the basis for examination.
This ‘Learning without Burden’ recommended a major change in the design of the syllabi and textbooks, and also a change in the social ethos, which places stress on the children to become aggressively competitive and exhibit precocity. To make teaching as a means to harness the child’s creative nature, the report recommended a fundamental change in the matter of organising the school curriculum, and also in the system of examination, which forces children to memorise information and to reproduce it. Learning for the sake of being examined in the mechanical manner takes away the joy of being young, and de-links school knowledge from everyday experience. To address this deep structural problem, the document draws upon and elaborates the insights of Learning Without Burden. Rather than prescribe, this document seeks to enable teachers and administrators and other agencies involved in the design of the syllabi and textbooks and examination reform, make rational choices and decisions. It also demands a certain amount of imaginative response.
HISTORY OF NCF 2005
After Independence, the concerns of education articulated during the freedom struggle were revisited by the National Commissions- the Secondary Education Commissions (1952-1953) and the Education Commission (1964-1966). Both Commissions elaborated on the themes emerging out of Gandhi’s educational philosophy (i.e. use of immediate environment for a child’s growth including the mother tongue and work, as a resource for socializing the child into a transformative vision of society) in the changed socio-political context with a focus on national development.
Education under the Indian constitution until 1976 allowed state governments to take decisions on all matters pertaining to school education, including curriculum, within their jurisdiction. The Centre could only provide guidance to the states on policy issues. It is under such circumstances that the initial attempts of the National Education Policy of 1968 and the Curriculum Framework designed by NCERT in 1975 were formulated. In 1976, the constitution was amended to include education in the Concurrent List, and for the first time in 1986 the county as a whole had a uniform National Policy on Education. The NPE (1986) recommended a common core component in the school curriculum throughout the country. The policy also entrusted the NCERT with the responsibility of developing the NCF and reviewing the framework at frequent intervals.
The NCERT did continue its curriculum -related studies and consultations subsequent to 1975 and had drafted a Curriculum Framework as a part of its activity in 1984. This exercise aimed at making school education comparable across the country in qualitative terms and also making it a means of ensuring national integration without compromising on the country’s pluralistic character. Based on such experience, the councils work culminated in the National Curriculum Framework for School Education, 1988. However, the articulation of this framework resulted in an increase in ‘curricular load’ and make learning at school a source of stress for young minds and bodies during their formative years of childhood and adolescence. This aspect has been brought up in ‘Learning Without Burden’1993, the report of the Committee under the chairmanship of Professor Yash Pal.
In spite of the recommendations of the NPE, school education came to be driven more and more by high stake examinations based on information loaded textbooks. Despite the review of the Curriculum Framework in 2000, the vexed issues of curriculum load and the tyranny of examinations remained unresolved. The National Curriculum framework tries to find out both the positive and negative developments in the field and attempts to address the future requirements of school education at the turn of the century. Therefore it aims at mainly, the aims of education, the social milieu of children, the nature of knowledge in its broader sense, the nature of human development, and the process of human learning. The term National Curriculum Framework is often wrongly construed to mean that an instrument of uniformity is being proposed. The intention as articulated in the NPE, 1986 and the Programme of Action (POA) 1992 was quite the contrary. NPE proposed a national framework for curriculum as a means of evolving a national system of education capable of responding to India’s diversity of cultural and geographical milieu while ensuring a common core of values along with academic components. “The NPE-POA envisaged a child-centred approach to promote universal enrolment and universal retention of children up to 14 years of age and substantial improvement in the quality of education in the school” (POA, P.77). The POA further elaborated on this vision of NPE by emphasising relevance, flexibility and quality as characteristics of the National Curriculum Framework. Thus, both these documents envisioned the National Curriculum Framework as a means of modernising the system of education.
“The National system of Education will be based on a National Curriculum Framework, which contains a common core along with other components that are flexible. The common core will include the history of India’s freedom movement, the constitutional obligations and other content essential to nurture national identity. These elements will cut across subject areas and will be designed to promote values such as India’s common cultural heritage egalitarianism, democracy and secularism, equality of sexes, protection of environment, removal of social barriers observance of small family norm and inculcation of scientific temper. All education programmes shall be carried on in strict conformity with secular values. India has always worked for peace and understanding between nations, treating the whole world as one of family. True to this tradition, education has to strengthen this world view and motivate the younger generations for international co-operation and peaceful co-existence which cannot be neglected. To promote equality, it will be necessary to provide for equal opportunity for all, not only in access but also in the conditions of success. Besides, awareness of the inherent equality of all will be created through co-curriculum. The purpose is to remove prejudices and complexes transmitted through the social environment and the accident of birth.” (National Policy on Education, 1986) .
The National Curriculum Framework also focuses on the reorientation of our perception of learners and learning. It tries to establish a holistic approach in the treatment of learner’s development and learning and creating an inclusive environment in the classroom for all students. They wanted schools as an institution to provide new opportunities for all learners to learn about themselves, others, and society to access and engage with environment around him. For this to happen, opportunities to try out, manipulate, make mistakes and correct oneself are essential. The current concern in curriculum development and reform is to make it an inclusive and meaningful experience for children and move away from textbook culture. The NCF focuses on a child-centred pedagogy which gives primacy to children’s experiences, their voices and their active participation. This kind of pedagogy plans learning by keeping the children’s psychological development and interest first. It focuses on connecting knowledge across disciplinary boundaries to provide a broader framework for insightful construction of knowledge. The learner is to be made engaged to the observation, exploring, discovering, analysing, critical reflection etc. which are important as the content of knowledge. It also tries to develop critical perspectives on socio-cultural realities and find space in curricular practices.
The main focus is the development of practices and skills of understanding through the school curriculum. While some are readily lend to being formulated as ‘subjects’ of study such as mathematics, history, science and visual arts. Others like ethical understanding needs to be interwoven into subjects and activities. Focus is paid on project activities, thematic and interdisciplinary courses of studies, field trips, use of libraries and laboratories. It is believed that this approach to knowledge would encourage the students to move away from ‘facts’ as ends in itself and move towards locating facts in the process in which they come to be known and moving below the surface of facts to locate the deeper connection between them that gives the child meaning and significance.
It states the condition of India where we traditionally follow a subject-based approach to organising a curriculum, drawing on only the disciplines.
The issue of ‘quality’ on the education platform gave rise to many problems. It is true that the education available to all children in different regions and sections of society has a comparable quality. J.PNaik had described equality, quality and quantity as the ‘elusive triangle’ of Indian Education. In a system of education that is divided between a fast growing private sector and a larger state sector marked by shortages and the uneven spread of resources, the issue of quality poses complex conceptual and practical questions. The use of mother tongue can prove to be the useful tool for constructing knowledge in meaningful ways. Physical resources by themselves cannot be regarded as an indicator of quality; yet the extreme and chronic shortages of physical resources, including basic infrastructural resources, in school run by state or local bodies does present a serious quality constraint .
Education has been commercialised due to globalisation and on the other hand inadequate public funding for education and the official thrust towards ‘alternative’ schools. These factors indicate a shifting of responsibility for education from the state to the family and the community. The aims of education or the educational aim simultaneously reflect the current needs and aspirations of society as well as its lasting values, and the immediate concerns of a community as well as abroad.
A brief chapter wise summary of the NCF-2005
The first chapter focuses on strengthening of a national system of education in a pluralistic society and reducing the curriculum load based on insights provided in ‘Learning without Burden’. It also focuses on promoting a systematic change which goes in tune with curricular reforms. To establish curricular practices based on the values enshrined in the constitution, such as social justice, equality and secularism and also ensure education for all. It also aims in building a citizenry committed to democratic practices, values, sensitivity towards gender justice, problems faced towards the scheduled tribes, needs of the disabled and capacity to participate in economic and political processes.
Focuses on re-orienting the perception of learners and learning and promote active learning through experiential mode. To have a holistic approach in the treatment of learners’ development and learning and meeting learning disability needs through data based and need specific programmes. It focuses and encourages young learners to engage themselves in the construction of knowledge and foster creativity. The framework also wants to give adequate room for voicing children’s thinking, curiosity and questions in curricular practices. The different forms of engagement like observing, exploring, discovering, analysing, critical reflection etc. are as important as the content of knowledge. Activities are to be promoted to develop critical perspectives on socio-cultural realities. Local knowledge and children’s experience are essential components of textbooks and pedagogic practices.
Here, a renewed effort are to be made to implement the three language formula, emphasizing recognition of children’s mother tongue(s) as the best medium of instruction.
Mathematization (ability to think logically, formulate and handle abstractions) rather than ‘knowledge’ of mathematics (formulas and mechanical procedures) is the main goal of teaching mathematics.
Content, process and language of science teaching must be commensurate with the learners age range and cognitive reach. Science teaching should engage learners in acquiring methods and processes that will nurture their curiosity and creativity, particularly in relation to the environment.
In this subject teaching should aim at equipping children with moral and mental energy so as to provide them the ability to think independently and reflect critically on social issues. Interdisciplinary approaches like promoting key national concerns such as gender, justice, human rights, and sensitivity to marginalized groups and minorities. It also focuses on civics wherein it should be recast as political science, and the significance of history as shaping influence on the children’s conception of the past and that civic identity should be recognised.
Work and education: As it create a social temper and agencies offering work opportunities outside the school should be formally recognized.
Education for peace: As a precondition to snub growing violence and intolerance.
Health and physical Education: Health depends upon nutrition and planned physical activities.
Art education: Covers music, dance, visual arts and theatre which on interactive approaches not instruction aesthetic awareness and enable children to express themselves in different forms.
This chapter talks on the need for availability of minimum infrastructure and material facilities, and support for planning a flexible daily schedule because they are essential and critical for improved teacher performance. To create a school culture that nurtures children’s identities as ‘learners’ enhances the potential and interest of each child. The framework also advices specific activities ensuring participation of all children- abled and disabled- are essential conditions for learning by all. It also talks on the values of self-discipline and the participation of community members in sharing knowledge and experience in a subject area which would help in forging a partnership between the school and the community. To have a reconceptualization of learning resources in terms of –textbooks which would focus on elaboration of concepts, activities, problems and exercises encouraging reflexive thinking and group work.-supplementary books, workbooks, teachers handbooks etc. based on fresh thinking and new perspectives – to use multimedia and ICT as sources of two way interaction rather than a one way reception.
The reform stressed on quality concern as a key feature of systemic reform, it implies the system’s capacity to reform itself by enhancing its ability to remedy its own weaknesses and to develop new capabilities. The reform also desire an evolvement of a common school system to ensure comparable quality in different regions in the country and also to ensure that when children of different backgrounds study together, it improves an overall quality of learning and enriches the school ethos. The practice of meaningful academic planning has to be done in a participatory manner by headmasters and teachers. Monitoring quality must be seen as a process of sustaining interaction with individual schools in terms of teaching–learning processes.
Reformulated teacher education programmes that place thrust on the active involvement of learners in the process of knowledge construction, shared context of learning, teacher as a facilitator of knowledge construction, multidisciplinary nature of knowledge of teacher education, integration theory and practice dimensions, and engagement with issues and concerns of contemporary Indian society from a critical perspective.
Centrality of language proficiency in teacher education and an integrated model of teacher education for strengthening professionalization of teachers assume significance.
In-service education needs to become a catalyst for change in school practices. The Panchayati Raj system should be strengthened by evolving a mechanism to regulate the functioning of parallel bodies at the village level so that democratic participation in development can be realised.
REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK 2005
The NCF 2005 which originated in the direction of the Education Secretary , Government of India, to the Director of the NCERT ” to review the National Curriculum Framework of School Education ( NCFSE 2000) in the light of the report Learning without Burden (1993). The author of the NCFSE 2000, Prof. J.S Rajput, the then Director, NCERT, has been claiming it as his highest success that he has reduced the leaners burden by reducing dramatically the sum total of knowledge transmitted through school education and before UNESCO tried to honour him the Indian people threw out his patrons from power.
What was wrong with NCFSE 2000 was not only its constriction of knowledge but of its emphasis or its ranked spirit of communalism and chauvinism, to which NCF 2005 nowhere refers. Professor Yash Pal says that the author of NCF has avoided the ‘blame game’. But internally there were a lot of blame in terms of curricula, syllabi, examination etc.
One also needs to ask frankly what the need of NCF 2005, when there already exist the National Curriculum for Elementary and Secondary Education (NCESEF-1988). If there was a need of changing or updates on contents that document can be revised and amended. It was well argued, well-knit with specific prescriptions for weights given to various subjects at various stages.
This document has now been replaced by a cliché ridden, unrealistic text that under the title of NCF-2005, is tall on claims but short on specificities.
It should be remembered that every curriculum has to be a compromise between ‘ideals’ and ‘reality’. What NCF 2005 lacks is the grasp of reality. In its text (4.1 pg-71) the importance of satisfactory teacher-pupil ratio (Max 1:30). But this is seldom present in reality. In some school were numbers of classrooms does not exist and teachers are in effect part-time teachers , it is not possible for any ordinary schools to demand that teachers to provide “individualised attention” (i.e. separate attention to all pupils) as is demanded in NCF 2005, 2.4.4.(p-19) and at other places.
There is considerable segregation in terms of the differentiation between the rich and the poor in our schooling system. (1.6, pp., 8-9; 2.3, p. 13) and yet the documents speaks as if the children of whatever background have “a native wisdom and imagination” that is “imperative” for us to respect. (1.4, p.5). Here S.Akhtar (2005) argues that this native wisdom comes not from his/her genes but from the condition the child is brought up in. So, it means that if the child is born poor then he/she has to remain or believe that he/she has to accept the lower position as been done in society and would be inexplicably interwoven when he come to school. Gender bias runs through our ‘native wisdom’. So, when the child comes to school, the task of the school education is then not to help the child ‘create his own knowledge’ but to divest him of the social prejudices, beliefs, superstitions that he learns at home even before he has seen in school.
The NCF 2005 suggest that two evils should be curtailed:- the flow of “information” and textbooks. Throughout the document there is a denunciation of “burden of information” which prevents children from creating their “own version of knowledge” (Professors Yash Pal’s preface, p.3 and numerous places in the document elsewhere). It is strongly disapproved that “information takes precedence over knowledge” in the present school system, as if there can be any knowledge without information!
The NCF, regarding text-books gave no impartiality between good and bad textbooks. However, the document demands that we move away from “textbook culture”; and, there is a strong suggestion that teachers should not insist on with the information’s in the text-books (2.4.1, p-16). It has also been suggested that “one must not insist students to give identical answers to questions” (ibid). S.Akhtar (2005) identified some faults lines wherein the authors of the NCF might have stopped to think weather there could be more than one correct answer to the question about the sum of 2+3. Another serious objection to the denigration of textbooks is that what is written in a textbook can be monitored and checked; if there is any wrong information here, it can be corrected. But what the teacher teaches in school, and assesses as right cannot be monitored, (for the weakness of this monitored in this respect see NCF -2005, 5.1.2, pp. 92-93).
This brings us to NCF 2005 reliance upon teachers as practically autonomous purveyors of school education. They are to replace textbooks in a large matter as independent transmitters of information, especially in the area of ‘local knowledge” which the NCF glorifies out of all proportion (2.7, pp. 27-29). They are even to accept ” local belief system” that are more “ecologically valid than the textbook opinion” (p-28). It is not realised at all that the “local knowledge” may be at total variance with the rational and scientific method. And if the teacher is left to choose what to accept out of it, there can be no telling what kinds of superstitions and social biases are going to seep into our school education?
It is to be kept in mind that the authors of the NCF-2005 do not realise that school teachers are as much affected as are other sections of the population, by social and communal considerations. The “textbook culture” provides at least some checks. If every school begins to issue its “own versions of knowledge”, one absolutely different from that of another, one fears to think how much of communalism and casteism or regional chauvinism will succeed in poisoning ones children’s minds. Keeping this in mind one cannot ignore one of the NCF’s statements.
In chapter 1.3, p.4, its comment on the Curriculum Framework of 2000 is merely that it did not solve “the vexed issues of curriculum load and tyranny of examinations”. This amounts to a certification that everything else in that framework – religious values, instruction on religion, etc. was not to get agitated about.
In 1.4 (p-6) we are told that India being a “secular democratic state means that all faiths are respected but at the same time the Indian state has no preference for any particular faith”. The felt need”, the document continues, “is to inculcate among children a respect for all people regardless of their beliefs”, so far so good. But, secularism really means that the state is separated from all religions, and there should have been a purposive statement in the NCF 2005 that that no religion will not be allowed to intrude in any way into the school education. There is no “recognition” while dealing with the “morning assembly” (4.7, p.85) that in many schools these assemblies begin with many religious songs, and that this needs to be prohibited.
The NCF 2005 proposes five guiding principles for curriculum reform: (i) connecting knowledge to life outside the school; (ii) ensuring that learning shifts away from rote methods; (iii) enriching the curriculum so that it goes beyond textbooks; (iv) making examinations more flexible and integrating them with classroom life; and (v) nurturing an overriding identity informed by caring concerns within the democratic polity of the country. It has also reiterated the need to respond to specific developments and concerns arising in contemporary debate such as: the retention of all children in school so as to achieve the goal of Universal Elementary Education; fostering democracy as a way of life; inculcating a respect for constitutional values of plurality and secularism in children; promoting decentralisation to facilitate generation of locally relevant knowledge and curriculum practices; sensitisation to environmental issues; and broadening of the scope of curriculum to include traditional crafts, work and knowledge (National Curriculum Framework 2005). Commenting on this Batra (2010) stated that,
“The NCF 2005 offers little clarity on how this is to be done. In not doing so it could well have sown the seeds of its own capture by political and sectarian interests at state level within India’s complex federal polity, where education is primarily a state jurisdiction. The foremost challenge before the NCF therefore is in ‘…bridging the gap between existing realities and proposed possibilities (which would) need a coordinated effort between the centre and states, and between the many agencies and actors that comprise the education system.”
How school education enables the realisation of the five guiding principles outlining the perspective of NCF is also not clear. For instance, connecting knowledge to life outside the school and enriching the curriculum by making it less textbook centric are possible only with the proactive intervention of a teacher who is driven by the conviction that this is the only way forward. To enable this, the teacher needs several things, including a resource pool of books to choose from, the professional skills to identify developmentally appropriate text materials, a critical and analytic mind and the opportunity to engage children with life outside the classroom (Batra, 2005). Likewise, facilitating children to move away from rote learning is possible only when children are inundated with opportunities to make meaning of what they read, see, hear, experience and discuss.
Also, the need for curriculum review emerges from the long ossification of a national education system that continues to view teachers as ‘dispensers of information’ and children as ‘passive recipients’ of an ‘education’, sought to be ‘delivered’ in four-walled classrooms with little scope to develop critical thinking and understanding. One of the key problems in the present crises of education, as perceived by NCF 2005, is the burden that it imposed on the children. Batra (2005) addressed this by stating,
“This burden arises both (i) an incoherent curriculum structure and content that is disconnected to the culture and life of children and (ii) from the inadequate preparation of teachers who are unable to make connections with children and respond to their needs in imaginative and dynamic ways.”
The NCF 2005 articulated that the school curriculum as an inclusive space, a space that extends beyond the conventional curricular realm of textbooks into the realm of teaching-learning processes, enabling the agency of the child and the teacher. In doing this, the NCF implicitly recognises the role of the teacher in enabling an empowering education that seeks to bridge the gaps of caste, gender and economic status and thereby become an important instrument of social transformation. Yet, the NCF 2005 fails to articulate the necessary linkages between curriculum reform and the policy and programme interventions that are necessary to operationalize its vision. It also does not address the sharp divide between the school curriculum and the teacher that the practice of contemporary teacher education has accentuated over the years (ibid.).
In constructing the Social Science textbooks, the textbook curriculum framers accord an utmost importance to the development of a structured course of study in order to encourage the teaching-learning process in secondary school. They have also mentioned that the core curricular areas have been suitably infused into the book. The style of presentation and composition of the text makes clear that facts are not ends in themselves. They are but tools for developing more important concepts, principles, knowledge of their applicability, national perspectives, wider vision and a new value system. The presentation is simple and logical; stressing on the process of learning and thinking, so that the students may derive the joy of self-learning, discovering, comparing and drawing inferences. Numerous maps, illustrations and charts at the appropriate places have been designed to brighten the interest and understanding of the students. In a world of ever increasing knowledge and rising competition, the authors mentioned their hope that the textbooks will help the students to acquire the basic competence and skill to face the academic with confidence, competence and commitment (Composite social sciences for us Class VI, 2009).
For English medium schools, Mizoram Board used the Composite Social Sciences For Us which is published by the Arya Publications for Class VI and Class VII. From class VIII onwards, NCERT published textbook are used. For Mizo medium schools, Mizoram Board used Social Science Pawl Ruk Zirlaibu and Social Science Pawl Sarih Zirlaibu for class VI and Class VII which are published by the Mizoram Board of School and Education. From class VIII onwards, the NCERT published textbooks are used as well.