Row over curriculum development at SCERT
Traditionalists oppose modern methods BH Ramakrishna A controversy has erupted at SCERT (State Council of Educational Research and Training) on...
Traditionalists oppose modern methods BH Ramakrishna A controversy has erupted at SCERT (State Council of Educational Research and Training) on the issue of development of curriculum for the Classes VIII and IX for which new preparation of new syllabus is underway. Though it had not buoyed, there has been a war of attrition between the traditional syllabus makers and those who wish to bring in radical reforms. It appears ultimately the traditionalists, who are said to be majority, may prevail upon, but the issue is likely to leave a scar over the prestigious body, top sources said. The bone of contention was said to be adaptation of a new methodology, developed by some academicians of Rajasthan for their state. Some of the syllabus- setters who have some modern bent of mind, proposed to take it as a model and adding local flavor to it. But the writers who have been doing the job for quite a number of years, stoutly opposed it saying that there is nothing new in it and the model that has been worked out for the lower classes on the earlier model was far more superior to it. They also contended that the Rajasthani model can be developed in Hyderabad itself with a change but felt it is not necessary at all. The issue has been brewing for over a year now as the government plans to bring out new syllabi for all the classes. It may be known that new syllabus has already been introduced up to class VII and by 2015, class X will have new syllabus. Some effort has been made when Sheshu Kumari was the Director of SCERT and her abrupt transfer after an abyss with the Minister of Primary Education S Sailajanath, hampered the work to some extent. It also made divisions inside SCERT to an extent. Though Upender Reddy, who has expertise in curriculum work and management, has taken along the work without any trouble, the division remained dormant. Sources said Upender Reddy who wanted to bring in radical reforms in curriculum has met with strong opposition and although he tried his best to overwhelm the traditionlists with an iron hand, it went in vain. What's modern methodology? It may be known that the NCERT has formed a committee in 2005 under the chairmanship of Prof Yash Pal and it has come out with a document "National Curriculum Framework-2005" which has become a guiding force for the curriculum-makers at SCERTs of various states. The NCF proposed five guiding principles for curriculum development:(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. In its note eight years ago, the panel said- "all our pedagogic efforts during the primary classes greatly depend on professional planning and the significant expansion of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). Hence, the revision of primary school syllabi and textbooks needs to be undertaken in the light of the well-known principles of ECCE. The fact that knowledge is constructed by the child implies that curricula, syllabi and textbooks should enable the teacher in organising classroom experiences in consonance with the child's nature and environment, and thus providing opportunities for all children. Teaching should aim at enhancing children's natural desire and strategies to learn. Knowledge needs to be distinguished from information, and teaching needs to be seen as a professional activity, not as coaching for memorisation or as transmission of facts. Activity is the heart of the child's attempt to make sense of the world around him or her. Therefore, every resource must be deployed to enable children to express themselves, handle objects, explore their natural and social milieu, and to grow up healthy. If children's classroom experiences are to be organized in a manner that permits them to construct knowledge, then our school system requires substantial systemic reforms. In all the four familiar areas of the school curriculum, i.e. language, mathematics, science and social sciences, significant changes are recommended with a view to making education more relevant to the present day and future needs, and in order to alleviate the stress with which children are coping today. This NCF recommends the softening of subject boundaries so that children can get a taste of integrated knowledge and the joy of understanding. Most of these recommendations have been given a go-bye by the SCERT, a top subject-expert told The Hans India. Added to this saga, there have been caste divisions which cast a shadow over the curriculum work and its acceptance, he added.