Raises very disturbing questions!
300 academics and seven long months. And now we have a New Curriculum Framework of 125 pages dense text!
Globalisation had accelerated the process of Westernisation, modernisation and also make us to face the knowledge acquisition an international type of using reason and science and the tools of knowledge like logic and scientific reasoning. If our professional educators think they have other way then they have to be dumped. Indian education needs an open-minded thinking and also rooted in the rise of knowledge in the modern world.
We haven’t read the entire text of the Draft National Curriculum Framework , 2005 NCF), 124 pages of massive production, that had been released in New Delhi in August. From what we have read from the newspapers and other commentaries raises some very disturbing questions.
The document had been adopted by the very influential Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) at its meetings on Sept 6 and 7. Just now we have read a commentary by no less a person than Prof.K.M.Shrimali who is a professor of History at Delhi University. So, we assume he has made his views clear only after going through all the deliberations in New Delhi and among the academic community in Delhi and also where live almost all the heavyweights in the education policy making. He makes some points very clear.
As we understand them we summarise here as follows:
First, the NCF 2005 is supposed to replace the heavily communalised agenda as set out in the NCF 2000. But, it looks in this desaffronisation and detoxification of Indian education certain undesirable trends had crept into.
This new document is supposed to have been dictated, say the authors of this document, by the “critical mass of discomfort” caused by the BJP inspired NCF 200. This new document “puts considerable emphasis on the language potentials of children, language education and knowledge creation. (page 37)”. “The language environment of disadvantaged leaners need to be enriched… within a broad cognitive philosophy (incorporating Vygotskian, Chomskyan and Piagetian principles “This is the quotation given by the author from the very document of 2005. Another passage from the document:” local.. their homes, communities, languages and cultures”. As Shrimali points out there is a patronising tone about this high-sounding and yet empty academic rhetoric! Creating spaces for “tribal” and street” languages is one of the pet themes. NCF says children of potential “knowledge creators”. NCF formulation: “Knowledge can be conceived as experience organised, through language, into patterns of thought ..”The sentence is very long and plainly boring and betrays taking the country’s educators for a ride!
Much more questionable is the bringing in Sanskrit as a “modern language”. Why? A classical language be turned into a modern language? The new NCF ,as Shrimali explains clearly is “notorious for perpetuating several divides, class/caste, rural urban (when the document discusses Vocational Education and Training), Brahmanic/Sanskritic and the great persisting gender divides. As other educators had pointed out there is now a less emphasis on a state education model, the new document legtimises many of the present highly commercialised divided of public vs state (poor) schools. Standard vs Higher subjects.
There is now in the new document an emphasis on including “local knowledge “and” local belief systems into the curriculum. He quotes Prof Shahid Amin, another fellow professor in the same dept. and it is Amin who is the advocate of the local knowledge of the people in the regions.
In so many words we needn’t elaborate the issues. There is already much damage done to the idea of “national” integration (Prof.Shrimali notes that ironically the very day when the National Integration Council was meeting.
The drafters of the document seem to be ,from what Shrimali says, Rightists, that is those who are opposed to the Leftists and also pretenders to be “a political”. This is the height of hyprocisy in the Indian context. Who knows how many blatant opportunists and favour seekers have been drafted into produce of a document that serves many agendas. It looks from what Shrimali writes that there is still a bias in favour the many divisions in Indian society.
It is not clear what is the status (social and economic and political) of the authors of the document. Knowing Indian bureaucratic mentality, we are sure most of the members could not be others than serving or retired bureaucrats or academic personnel. They all might not be Leftists or Marxists as the previous set of historians were blatantly showed themselves up but the new pretenders ,at least some of them at least are trying to display their academic or learning immaturity. Otherwise, why bring in such concepts like “postmodernist Foucaultin version of the “knowledge”. Obviously, there has been some derailment of the perspective for what our Indian education values have to be in a modern, globalising world. Simply the New Delhi-centric education reform agenda seems to us, in the South, from Bangalore completely out of tune with the more energetic resurgence of the Indian skills, the IT revolution that is already putting India as the Software Superpower.
No big themes find mention : Free and Compulsory Education, Universalisation of Education etc. Nor the theoreticians bother about the strategies of implementation of the various theoretical formulations.
Already we find there is deficiencies in HRD ministry’s efficiency in implementation. Education Cess is not given to the HRD Ministry by the Finance Ministry. The fund allotted to the states for elementary education are not fully utilised nor the off-take of the grain allocation for the mid-day meals is inspiring. Surely, only government paid officials alone cant implement many of these sensitive education programmes. We have to involve the people, panchayats and NGOs and the much-maligned (mostly right in the high commercialisation ventures big politicians and others engaged in education business) private sector, private education agencies have to be involved with a Public-Private Partnership concepts. Honest educators will speak out. (Though it is reported that the HRD minister Mr.Arjun Singh reminded the CABE that it is an advisory body and they should know who the boss is in education decision making!). Nor the education ministers don’t speak much. So, we don’t know who is doing what. In education, it is ideas and concepts and ideals and goals that matter. Unless concerned persons speak their minds out how we can expect the Indian education sector get clarity of vision and purpose!
Our youngsters now don’t care for all your theories of education, they want to acquire knowledge hands-on and almost learn while start earning. 12 Plus is now the minimum entry requirements for IIT/IIMs and so when the 23 year olds start on a salary of Rs.10,000/12,000 who care for whether you advocate one theory of education or other. Now on-line learning has reached far and wide, UK children learn math skills from Indian teachers on-line. So, the new document at best is another step backward and in this sense our education system, be it primary or secondary or university would continue the perpetuate the present days skills without really contributing fundamentally and radical new inputs for realising the many highly desirable Millennium Goals. Does this concept of Millennium Goals come into the NFC 2005. If yes then we have hope. If no, then God bless this country!
There is already a criticism the new NCF is too abstract and too much theorising with not much likely practical impact.
The Centre spends all the money and time to organise these committees. Why not the same members travel to the states and organise some interactions with the state leaders? Education is on the concurrent list, so the states have to get involved in NCF. There is no transparency in the finalisation of the new NFC, say critics. Prof.Yash Pal, the grand old educator, advocates local wisdom. We are afraid, this is to confuse everybody! Wisdom has to be historic, Western, Greco-Roman to Renaissance to European Enlightenment and in post Independent India to find an essential India-centric core wisdom and current realities of nation building. Irrationalities of any kind shouldn’t enter education. Education to the poor is simply not addressed. Education as a burden or a joy? Nobody can answer this!
Anil Sadgopal, one important member says ,rightly, that this is an elitist curriculum by an “unelected” government. So, if a truly elected government comes, there will another call for a total overhaul”.