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

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Defending the Core Concepts


The decision of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to scrap 30% of the syllabus prescribed for various subjects has come under severe criticism from several quarters. As has been reported in the media, the CBSE has claimed that such a decision had to be taken in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19, which has disrupted the order in the educational system. Second, the CBSE seems to have argued that such a decision was aimed at helping both the teachers and the students to reduce either the perceived or real burden that is believed to be emanating from “excessive’’ learning and the pressure of exam preparation. From the decision, one could possibly surmise that the CBSE has chosen to resolve the problem of burden basically by making the volume of the syllabus proportionate to the amount of time available for classroom transactions and exam preparation. The intention of the decision tends to assign uneven weightage favouring the examination “syndrome,’’ which has been perceptively questioned by Krishna Kumar in the editorial comment written in this issue.

In the overlapping sequence of the criticism of the CBSE’s decision that has sharply been articulated in Krishna Kumar’s editorial comment, it is also possible to intensify further the critique of such a decision and argue that the problem of burden needs to not only be grounded in simple rote learning, but more importantly, it has to be located in the problem of conceptual incomprehension as rightly recognised by the late professor Yash Pal. He, through his public deliberation, often visualised the problem of burden in students’ conceptual incomprehension. But, thereby, he did not mean to suggest the total removal of concepts from the body of the CBSE syllabus. The decision that is under reference fails to capture the deep intellectual concerns that are at the core of Yash Pal’s observations as well as the text of aforementioned EPW editorial comment. Both the editorial comment as well as Yash Pal’s observations do not hold concepts responsible for creating cognitive incomprehension among the community of teachers and students. It is ironical that the current decision finds solutions to the burden in chopping off the concepts themselves. It is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Can we suggest more discreet ways of retaining in the structures of the syllabus the core concepts that are facing their malapportionment?

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Updated On : 24th Jul, 2020
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