ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Education: Noise and Design

The NCERT's discussion document 'National Curriculum Framework for School Education' brings out the professional cost that the NCERT pays directly, and the rest of us pay indirectly, on account of indifference to historical awareness.

A discussion document called National Curriculum Framework for School Education has been released by the NCERT. Its preface starts with a reference to Mahatma Gandhi who is said to have made the profound point in 1947 that all education in a country has got to be demonstrably in promotion of the progress of the country in which it is given. Gandhi figures some nine times in the document a count which, if taken seriously, might indicate a turning point in the history of NCERT. The organisation is now approaching 40. Never before has it evinced an interest in Gandhi, or for that matter in any philosopher of education, Indian or foreign. The perspective it has followed and promoted all along was largely shaped by behaviourist psychology and conventional practices. The currently dominant MLL approach MLL standing for minimum levels of learning is nothing but a brushed-up version of the old behaviourist model of educational objectives. The NCERT has been allergic to philosophical and socio-historical approaches to education. The present document also shows a total lack of historical sense. Considering that it is a national document, it indicates the professional cost that the NCERT pays directly, and the rest of us pay indirectly, on account of indifference to historical awareness.

To take an example from language education, the document gives no clues pointing to the lessons that curriculum framers can learn from Indias long struggle with language planning. A vast body of research and the specific experiences of several states might as well not exist. On a matter as widely debated as the medium of instruction, the document has little more to offer than a 1921 quotation from Gandhi and the injunction that till the end of the primary stage, no other language except the pupils first language should be permitted as the medium of instruction. We are left to make hard guesses on who the permit authority will be in the burgeoning market of education which the document acknowledges; which languages will count as first languages; will children be pooled according to the designated first language; and so on.

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