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Why Play? How India’s Kids Can Study Higher With The Nationwide Curriculum Frameworks

The Nationwide Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stage (NCF-FS), launched in October this 12 months, marks a paradigm shift in our understanding of training. It establishes a definite framework for the way India can implement one of many key options of the Nationwide Training Coverage (NEP) 2020.  

Earlier than delving into any particulars about this framework, it’s necessary to know the way through which NEP is trying to reconfigure our faculty system. 

At the moment, we have now a ten+2 curricular mannequin of faculty training. NEP talks of switching that to 4 curricular levels — basis, preparatory, center and secondary.

Basis refers to ages 3 to eight (Class 1 and a pair of and three years earlier than that), after which you’ve ages 8-11 (Preparatory), 11-14 (Center) and 14-18 (Secondary). So, from the present 10+2 system of faculty training, the NEP envisages shifting to a 5+4+3+4.

To get a greater understanding of NCF-FS and the impression it’s prone to have on future generations, The Higher India spoke to Shankar Maruwada, CEO and Co-founder of EkStep Basis, a non-profit devoted to bettering entry to studying alternatives. He’s additionally a member of the Nationwide Steering Committee appointed by the Authorities of India to develop the Nationwide Curriculum Frameworks.  

“That is the primary time, as a rustic, that we’re making a curriculum framework for the Foundational stage. That’s one motive why this can be a landmark doc,” says Shankar. 

However why is there such an emphasis on the Foundational stage? 

That is pushed by the deep and long-term implications that the primary eight years of a kid’s life have on their bodily, cognitive and socio-emotional growth. Neuroscience analysis tells us that about 85% of an individual’s mind growth occurs by the age of 8. Thus, early childhood care and training (ECCE), which refers to care and training of youngsters from the time they’re born to age 8, is of immense significance. Recognising this, many developed nations have invested closely in ECCE.           

Kids between the age of 0 and three are cared for at residence. As soon as they cross 3, kids transfer into institutional settings like pre-school, kindergartens, nursery, Balvatikas and Anganwadi for his or her general growth till they flip 6, which is then adopted by Class 1 and a pair of at school. 

Evidently, it’s tough to overstate the significance of foundational stage training for youngsters between the ages of three and eight. It’s the muse that prepares kids for formal training from Class 3 onwards and their life-long journey of studying. If the foundations are robust, the remainder of the edifice can stand tall. 

The NCF-FS ready by a Nationwide Steering Committee led by former ISRO chief Ok Kasturirangan presents an in depth framework of how India can impart high quality foundational stage training.     

“Earlier than the Standing Committee even got here collectively, over 1.3 lakh academics and educators had been consulted. There have been greater than 1,550 district-level consultations. These resulted in additional than 500 papers on 25 subjects put collectively by 4,000 specialists throughout India. After which on the nationwide stage, 175 specialists deliberated on these findings and got here out with 25 papers, one on every subject. This was the wealth of fabric and expertise put earlier than the Steering Committee. The problem was harmonising these inputs, making it coherent and balancing the multiplicity of views into one framework. That was a particularly difficult job,” notes Shankar. 

National Curriculum Frameworks: How Shankar Maruwada played a role in framing this critical report
Shankar Maruwada, CEO and Co-founder of EkStep Basis

Setting the framework

What’s a curriculum? It’s the whole thing of organised experiences college students have in any institutional setting like a faculty, pre-school or Anganwadi centre directed in direction of instructional objectives. 

“This contains studying and developmental objectives, syllabi, content material to be taught and learnt, pedagogical practices and evaluation (exams), teaching-learning supplies, faculty and classroom practices, the training atmosphere, tradition of the establishment and extra,” famous Anurag Behar, member of the Mandate Group for NCF, in a current column for The Mint.  

Each state is meant to develop its personal curriculum. However what’s the nationwide blueprint that states can observe in order that we’re working in direction of a collective nationwide objective? 

The NCF is laying down a framework which states can use to create their very own curriculum. However how do they consider creating curricula? What ought to they consider when creating it? 

A 12 months in the past, the Steering Committee started working on this regard to develop a nationwide framework for this, which concluded with the discharge of the NCF-FS in October. 

National Curriculum Frameworks emphasizes on early childhood care and education.
Early Childhood Care and Training: For representational functions solely (Picture courtesy Medium/Swetha Guhan)

Play-based studying

Educationists notice that on the coronary heart of ECCE and the foundational stage is play-based studying, This stands in distinction to the extra conventional system, which over time has forgotten the expertise and exercise features of studying. 

“Based mostly on science and what we all know, and from a number of expertise, play is a vital approach for the kid to study. On this context, it’s not simply ‘taking part in’ as we all know it. It contains singing songs, conversations, tales, music, puzzles, dancing, and many others. It’s what the kid does naturally, or as we are saying, ‘play is little one’s work’. When a toddler is taking part in, they’re studying. This isn’t groundbreaking perception. The NCF-FS is legitimising what everyone is aware of instinctively,” says Shankar. 

“Studying isn’t just when the kid is sitting down in consideration, writing one thing. In actual fact, between the age of three and eight, totally different kids study at totally different paces, and in several methods. It’s crucial to not power a selected fashion of studying. Let the kid play! No matter catches the eye of the kid and is protected is nice,” he provides. 

Domains, curricular objectives and studying outcomes  

The NCF-FS articulates what are the curricular objectives we’re setting for our kids. These are non-negotiable. In Hindi, we speak of padhai (learning) and poshan (diet). 

Padhai historically means learning, however if you happen to change that to growth and studying, the definition of the curricular objectives expands to 5 domains of studying and growth. These domains have been arrived at from science, NEP 2020 and Indian civilisational information and traditions. The 5 key domains are bodily and motor growth, cognitive growth, socio-emotional-ethical growth, cultural/inventive growth and growth of communication and early language, literacy, and numeracy,” says Shankar. 

Sometimes, language, literacy and maths is seen as padhai within the Indian context of rote studying, however as this framework emphasises, it’s way more than that. Towards these 5 domains, NCF has listed 13 curriculum objectives, with every being additional damaged into competencies, and every competency into illustrative studying outcomes. 

“These illustrative studying outcomes are what a trainer or a father or mother can observe daily. So, if these studying outcomes are achieved, you already know {that a} little one is making progress in direction of a competency. When the actual competency is achieved, you already know that the kid is making progress within the curriculum,” he explains.

“The NCF-FS units the curricular objectives. It lays out some competencies, studying outcomes for instance, however these aren’t prescriptive. The states and different autonomous instructional our bodies are free to vary them supplied there’s a logic behind it, and it achieves the curricular objective.” 

National Curriculum Frameworks notes that teacher have to change the way they teach
How do you educate younger kids? For representational functions solely (Picture courtesy UNICEF)

Studying at your individual tempo

We are able to delve additional into these curricular objectives, competencies and studying outcomes with some examples. 

Below the area of Language and Literacy Growth, one of many curricular objectives is that “kids develop fluency in studying and writing in Language 1 (L1)”. Right here, L1 refers to their language/mom tongue. Below this objective, a required competency is “reads brief tales and comprehends their which means — by figuring out characters, storyline and what the creator needs to say — on their very own”. 

What kind of studying outcomes is the NCF-FS anticipating right here?

Beginning out, the kid listens to “Learn Alouds” and responds to the questions posed by the trainer or reads image books and identifies objects and actions. By the age of 8, because it will get extra subtle, the kid is predicted to do “impartial studying” of books with extra textual than visible content material and determine characters, plots, sequences, and perspective of the creator. 

It’s crucial to know that not all kids can have a linear path to reaching the training final result of “impartial studying” of books with extra textual content material than visible content material. In spite of everything, between the ages of three and eight, each little one has their very own pathway in direction of studying. They are going to have their very own peaks and valleys and take their very own time in reaching these studying outcomes. 

“By the age of 6, for instance, one little one could have achieved a sure studying final result, however not reached the extent of her friends. Lecturers mustn’t decide one little one as higher, smarter, quicker than the opposite. It’s solely on the age of 8 that their studying paths begin to converge,” says Shankar. 

And the training outcomes listed within the NCF-FS aren’t set in stone. 

Some states might want their kids to have the ability to hear and act out the feelings of the character or need them to hear and draw out what’s occurring in a narrative. 

“Suppose I learn a narrative to a toddler. Now, I’ll ask the kid to inform me the story from the attitude of not the principle protagonist, however one other character. I ask the kid what this character is feeling on the finish. When a toddler solutions that query, there’s a huge cognitive leap of comprehension, of regarding that exact character. Totally different kids will give you totally different interpretations,” he says. 

“Let the kid be curious, converse with them as a result of a toddler learns by way of conversations. . At that time, the NCF-FS is telling academics ‘Don’t decide the kid’ for his or her diversified interpretations. And extra importantly, don’t attempt to obtain every curricular objective, studying final result or competency individually. Generally, by telling a narrative by way of a dialog or taking part in a sport, you may obtain quite a lot of totally different curricular objectives and competencies,” he provides.   

On this context, a key level NCF talks about is that autonomy needs to be given to the trainer to do what they assume is correct in that classroom context. The NCF-FS affords an in depth framework that academics can lean on to do their work. 

However why is that this such an in depth doc? “As a result of with out the main points, there’s a excessive probability of misinterpretation and lack of know-how. This doc is supposed for lecturers, directors and officers, however primarily the trainer,” notes Shankar.

National Curriculum Frameworks places an emphasis on play-based learning
Play-based studying: For representational functions solely (Picture courtesy World Indian College Weblog)

Primacy of mom tongue 

The kid has a mom tongue or a language spoken at residence. In response to NCF, it’s good if the kid expresses in that language as a result of at that age, they need the kid to have the ability to specific. 

In response to a 2022 report printed in UNESCO, “Analysis exhibits that training within the mom tongue is a key issue for inclusion and high quality studying, and it additionally improves studying outcomes and tutorial efficiency. That is essential, particularly in major faculty to keep away from information gaps and improve the pace of studying and comprehension.”

“Early training is greatest supplied within the language the kid speaks at residence. NCF calls upon educators, curriculum builders and academics to construction the kid’s studying expertise in her residence language. A baby on the age 3 learns the language spoken at residence. She is nearly beginning to specific herself. At this stage, it’s extra necessary for her to have the ability to talk than study a language. Our framework presents a pathway on how a toddler can talk higher, and science says the easiest way is to study of their mom tongue,” says Shankar. 

Any rejection of the kid’s mom tongue in a classroom setting may show very detrimental to her confidence. However how do you implement this advice, notably in main city centres which are residence to quite a lot of languages and social and cultural contexts?

“Lecturers need to get artistic. In a sensible scenario, there might be a toddler within the classroom who is aware of a couple of language. They will take help from that little one to know what her classmate is saying. In that scenario, there’s a pure approach of dealing with it,” says Shankar. 

“The NCF-FS just isn’t prescribing it as a result of each context is totally different. There’s additionally expertise which may translate easy sentences. However extra importantly, the trainer has to place in that effort to really talk with kids. They need to leverage each useful resource round them, together with the neighborhood. And the trainer in a classroom isn’t the one one who can impart studying. You could have dad and mom, neighborhood elders and other people from totally different walks of life like a neighborhood farmer who can take them out on area journeys to clarify how they develop their crops or the native policeman or blacksmith,” he provides. 

Assessing kids 

What needs to be the tenet for assessing a toddler’s progress between the ages of three and eight? In response to the NCF, evaluation shouldn’t contribute to any further burden for the kid, shouldn’t overly burden the trainer and care should be taken to not label the kid. 

“Each little one is exclusive. Our recommendation to academics is to offer every little one particular person care and a focus and maintain observing what they’re seeing. The thought is to work with that little one in that approach,” he says. 

National Curriculum Frameworks believes that children up to Class 1 shouldn't use textbooks
Kids shouldn’t be carrying heavy faculty luggage crammed with textbooks: For representational functions solely (Picture courtesy Pixabay)

No textbooks as much as Class 1

NCF has instructed that textbooks ought to act as work books to offer alternatives for youngsters to work on their very own and report their work. The very important distinction is textbooks versus books. 

“The NCF-FS is clearly saying no textbooks until Class 1. However books, sure — image books, story books, exercise books, worksheets, and many others. Worksheets specifically have been highlighted as a needed software for each academics and kids within the NCF-FS. For instance, within the worksheet, there may be an overview of a cat and the kid is tasked with portray inside the traces. On web page 1 of the worksheet, the kid could paint exterior a line slightly. By web page 20, there may be an overview of one other animal. However on this portray, the kid has colored fully inside the traces. Thus, over a time frame, a trainer can assess whether or not a toddler’s dexterity has improved by seeing whether or not she will color inside the traces of their worksheet. Due to this fact, the workbook additionally turns into a report of the kid’s progress with out making it seem like a proper examination,” he explains. 

It’s necessary to transcend textbooks and make use of quite a lot of instructing studying materials (TLM). The thought is to make the method of studying pure. “If a toddler is excited by a toy, that’s the TLM for the day. Equally,  if a toddler has picked up a leaf or anyone has introduced a toothpaste cap to the category, that merchandise turns into a TLM. If anyone is singing a Hindi movie track and heard it the day before today, that can be a instructing studying materials. Don’t be constrained by textbooks and solely books. That is a vital course that NCF talks about,” he provides.  

(Picture courtesy Medium/Swetha Guhan)

Care, love and roadmap forward

“On the very core, if kids obtain care and love, they’ll study. If nothing else, academics needs to be caring human beings. They need to present a protected atmosphere. For this new framework being constructed, it’s necessary to know kids. Don’t take a look at them from the lens of an grownup. Have a look at it from the lens of a kid. There are three sorts of academics. The primary is the father or mother. The second, most necessary trainer is the one at school. The third trainer is the atmosphere within the classroom or the place the kid resides,” he says.  

Earlier than implementing this mannequin of foundational training, nevertheless, it’s necessary for stakeholders throughout India to realize what Shankar calls ‘NCF literacy’. 

Stakeholders like academics, faculty directors and officers in autonomous faculty boards should perceive the letter and spirit of NCF, and what states can take away from it. He reckons that it’s going to take as much as 3-5 years for the states and autonomous our bodies to totally implement NCF, prepare their academics, design a syllabus and TLM based mostly on this new mannequin. There’s nonetheless some strategy to go.  

(Edited by Divya Sethu)

(Characteristic Picture courtesy UNICEF/UN05810/Kiron. Different photographs courtesy Medium/Swetha Guhan, UNICEF, World Indian College Weblog and Pixabay)



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