- The Union Ministry of Education recently released the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for foundational stage education (children aged 3 to 8 years).
- With the unveiling of the first NCF for the foundational stage by the government, pre-primary school children in India have entered the formal schooling system for the first time.
- In addition to dedicating the NCF to early childhood care and education (ECCE), the Minister also announced the launch of ‘Balvatika’ at Kendriya Vidyalayas.
GS Paper 2: Social Justice
It took India 62 years after independence to make schooling a fundamental right for its children, and much more needs to be done. Discuss. (250 words)
The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for primary and secondary education:
- Experts have proven that 85% of brain development occurs by the age of 7 or 8, laying the groundwork for life-long learning and development.
- As a result, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 includes the new 5+3+3+4 curricular structure, which incorporates ECCE for all children aged 3 to 8.
- ECCE under the Anganwadi system was primarily focused on a child’s nutrition, whereas the private sphere – the playschool system – was unregulated.
- In light of this, the Ministry of Education established the National Steering Committee (chaired by K Kasturirangan) in 2021 to oversee the development of the NCF.
- The recently released NCF is based on the above-mentioned committee’s recommendations.
- The NCF for the foundational stage will be followed (in the future) by editions for higher grades, teacher education, and adult education.
Concerning the new NCF:
- The new framework incorporates the ‘panchakosha’ concept for the education of children aged 3 to 8, which consists of five components:
- Physical advancement (sharirik vikas),
- Life energy development (pranik vikas),
- Emotional and mental growth (manasik vikas),
- Intellectual growth (bauddhik vikas), and
- Spiritual advancement (chaitsik vikas).
- It calls for a holistic overall transformation of the ECCE curriculum, allowing for positive transformation of India’s school education system, including pedagogy.
- It places ‘play’ at the heart of curriculum organisation approaches because children learn best through play.
- As a result, NCF will enable all children to achieve Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.
- The NCF will address the role of teachers, as well as parents and communities, in achieving the developmental outcomes desired at this stage.
- Because the term “curriculum” encompasses a student’s overall school experiences, the NCF aims to help change practises in education rather than just ideas.
- As a result, NCF encompass not only curricular content and pedagogy, but also the school environment and culture.
- It is not so much about textbook revision as it is about changes in the teaching and learning process.
- The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is expected to complete the new foundational level syllabus and textbooks soon.
- The NCF serves as a guideline for school syllabuses, textbooks, and teaching practises in India.
- The NCERT in India previously published four NCFs (1975, 1988, 2000, and 2005).
- Language teaching is a complex issue in a multilingual country like India, where teachers may have to deal with a variety of languages in the classroom.
- The language of interaction and communication in ECCE should normally be the child’s first or home language, according to the NCF 2005.
- However, given sociopolitical realities, English should be introduced as a second language as early as Class I or preschool.
In the new NCF, the following recommendations/observations were made:
• India is currently experiencing a learning crisis, with children enrolled in primary school but failing to achieve basic skills such as foundational literacy and numeracy.
o Only 50.9% of the 19,344,199 Grade 1 students admitted in 2020-21 had previous pre-school experience.
• For children up to the age of eight, mother tongue will be the primary medium of instruction in both public and private schools, because learning a new language reverses the entire learning process in the early years.
• English could be one of the options for a second language. It does not, however, provide a specific timetable for introducing English.
• For young children to acquire the skills of speaking fluently in other languages, a natural, communication-focused approach that supports their primary medium of instruction is required (which could also be English).
• This age group of children should not be burdened with textbooks.