NCERT preschool curriculum was launched in December 2019. Hold your breath – before this, there was no uniform curriculum, rather no curriculum at all, for the preschools in India. Again, hold your breath – even after the launch of the NCERT preschool curriculum in 2019, there is no uniform curriculum, rather no curriculum at all, for the preschools in India.
The Indian preschools have no curriculum/syllabus/governing body/standardization template is a truth stranger than fiction. Let’s limit the current discussion to the NCERT preschool curriculum, how it perpetuates the mess of no curriculum and syllabus for the Indian preschools and is a huge letdown for the children of India.
NCERT Preschool Curriculum Is Not A Syllabus
The curriculum is broad-based and defines the universe of what all should/can be included. The syllabus is focused and defines the sub-set of what is actually included. Curriculum matters to academicians and theory discussions, syllabus matters to teachers and hands-on practitioners. NCERT preschool curriculum, as the name implies is a curriculum and not a syllabus.
This is a bit strange. NCERT’s core function is publishing the syllabus. It has formed the syllabus of Class I-XII, even though pre-historic and aimless. The hallowed entrance exams of JEE and NEET go by the prescribed NCERT textbooks. Surprise, surprise, NCERT does not formulate the preschool syllabus but a preschool curriculum.
Due to the curious anomaly of a curriculum and not a syllabus, there are no textbooks. There are no defined topics and subjects. Rather, there is nothing definitive at all in the curriculum. Apart from scratching one’s head at the use of jargon and lofty objectives, the curriculum serves absolutely no purpose in understanding how and what a child in preschool should be taught.
NCERT Preschool Curriculum Is Not Mandatory
This one is a real bummer. One might think that now, at least we have a curriculum. Maybe, the syllabus will follow or the curriculum will help in arriving at the syllabus. Surprise, surprise, there is an asterisk – conditions apply. The NCERT curriculum is suggestive and directional; it is not binding on the states. It does not refer to being compulsory or even considered by the preschools.
NCERT might argue that this flexible approach will aid innovation and not strait-jacket and stifle on-the-ground initiatives. Well, we are Indians. We do not have a great history of following the required mandates, how are the preschools going to follow the curriculum which is not enforced? The NCERT preschool curriculum has as much probability to succeed as the law against littering.
Fails To Address The Inequity
The NCERT preschool curriculum document rightly identifies that there is a wide variety of preschool services in our country – Anganwadi, private preschools etc, which have a huge disparity in infrastructural facilities, teacher qualifications, curriculum and pedagogies. Brilliant observation. And, then what does the document do? Gloss it over. Move onto the next sermon. Brilliant strategy.
The children, basis the family they are born in, start their preschool journey with an advantage or a drawback. This would then become a recurrent theme of their lives. NCERT could have tried to address this inequity of learning opportunities for the country’s future. Maybe, it thought that it is the responsibility of the Government. NCERT forgot that NCERT itself is the Government.
Throughout the NCERT preschool curriculum, it keeps referring to teachers. This is what teachers should do/plan/execute, roles and responsibilities etc. Presumably, nothing wrong with it. Just that, how much actual scope do the teachers have in a preschool set-up? Be it in Anganwadi or private preschools, the so-called teachers are mere fillers with suspect qualifications and motivations.
The real decision-makers are the owners/management of the private preschools and the higher-up Government officials. They control the purse strings and are responsible for making the resources available or off limits for the children’s learning. What does the NCERT preschool curriculum have to say about them? Silence.
What’s going to be achieved in preschool learning by letting the sharks devour the fees and grants without any concurrent deliverables? NCERT is awesome in sermonizing and also dragging its feet.
NCERT Preschool Curriculum’s Aim
The above downsides and other equally dreadful measures are made further insufferable by the stated aim of the NCERT preschool curriculum: Preparing the child for school.
There is no more disservice and letting down of children of India than this. Are the schools not enough to snatch away the childhood from the child that another three years are added to the ordeal? That too, when the child is just about getting to know and experience the fun and joy of being a child.
NCERT could have put the aim of the preschool curriculum as letting a child be and enjoying childhood. It could have imparted more learning to children than the current redundant version.
What are your thoughts on the NCERT preschool curriculum?
PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.