Any idea how was the world in 2006, 15 years back? No iPhones, No WhatsApp, No Instagram. Youtube was just a year old. Amazon and Facebook had not entered India. Whoa!! 2006 was a different world altogether as compared to 2021. 2006 also had another significant event – the NCERT syllabus for Class 1 was launched. And, it has been the same ever since, for the last 15 years. Whoa!!
The NCERT syllabus i.e. the textbooks the children study for Class 1 in 2021 is the same that the children studied in 2006. This is beyond belief. The technological landscape has changed. The people’s exposures and expectations have changed. There is hardly any comparison to the people’s lives then and now. And, the NCERT syllabus has remained exactly the same.
The NCERT syllabus seems to be cast in stone that it remains what it was 15 years back. Today’s children have access to so many innovations and newer experiences and the NCERT syllabus designed in 2006. There can and will, of course, be several arguments as to why the NCERT syllabus won’t and can’t change in 15 years.
NCERT Syllabus: Pre-Historic
Ever since NCERT came into being or whenever the new syllabus is devised, roughly the same time-lines have been maintained – 15 years or more for the syllabus update. So, if the non-updation of the syllabus has worked till now, it might as well do so currently too. The past laziness is the excuse for today’s laziness.
Well, there is no guarantee that it worked in the past and surely, it is not working today.
The children’s learning requirements remain the same irrespective of time. No, it doesn’t. The external environment might have changed drastically, but it does not influence the learning requirement of children. No, it has. Yes, the basics of learning remain the same, but the time that it gets introduced and the pace at which the child learns is dramatically different.
A child will always remain a child. But, it doesn’t mean they get taught stuff from the cave-man era.
NCERT syllabus has been designed so perfectly well that it entirely serves the learning purpose for children in 2021. Any idea how many pre-schools were there in 2006 and now? How many children went to pre-schools in 2006 and go today? Keep aside the technology revolution; the pre-primary education landscape has undergone a sea-change in the last 15 years.
Could NCERT fore-see such changes in 2006 and make a syllabus that is equally applicable in 2021?
The smart learning/smart classrooms are the flavour of the season. Any school worth the “International/Techno/Global” lingo that they use in their names will vouch for it. Just that, it is never discussed what is taught in these smart classrooms. What constitutes smart learning for smart children?
What would be your guess of today’s children being smart by reading the same textbooks used 15 years back?
NCERT Syllabus: Aimless
The Government of India has brought in the New Education Policy. It looks brilliant at the top, all glossy. Just that, the NCERT continues with the same syllabus from 15 years back. It looks murky at the bottom, all dull and dim.
Maybe, the New Education Policy aims at the Old Syllabus Books.
The NCERT might say that they can change the syllabus. But that would be a change for the sake of change as the syllabus doesn’t actually require change. This would be farthest from the truth. The learning requirements have changed for the children in the last one and a half-decade.
How can the un-smart syllabus from 15 years back do justice to the potential of smart kids?
One might say that this is precisely why private CBSE schools don’t follow NCERT books and have their own pedagogical tools. There are ICSE, IGCSE and IB curriculums, too. Well, who sets the benchmark for Indian students’ learning? Where do the maximum students enrol? Whom does the state Boards look up to for inspiration? NCERT.
The aimless working of NCERT further accentuates the inequity of the Indian education system.
The Action Points
Forget the above gripe. As a parent, how do you feel that your child is taught what was 15 years back? Does yesterday’s learning inspire confidence in you about your child’s chances to succeed in tomorrow’s world? Do you think that we are doing justice to the country’s future by letting our children study from the era of no WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon in India?
If no, what’s the way out? What’s to be done for the sake of our children, who are being let down, terribly and completely? What can we, mere, parents do? There are, of course, no easy answers when the Government and the education establishment is part of the problem and not the solution.
I propose bringing the issue into the limelight and requesting the Government for parent involvement in curriculum development.
What would be your suggestions and ideas?
(Along with Class I, the NCERT syllabus of Class X and XII was also launched in 2006 and has remained the same ever since. Wonder what XII Science students will be getting taught about Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Automation etc? They might as well still be learning how dinosaurs roamed!!)
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.