We have come to the conclusion that the problem of the load on school children does not arise only from over-enthusiastic curriculum designers, or poorly equipped teachers, or school administrators, or book publishers, or district, state or central educational authorities. Yes, what all these groups, agencies and administrators do can exacerbate or alleviate the problem.
But, there is a deeper malaise in our society, which impacts our young children. If we continue to value a few elite qualifications far more than real competence for doing useful things in life, and if the economic distance, between those who can manage to cross some academic hurdles and those who can't, continues to widen, we will probably continue to spend our effort in designing hurdles instead of opportunities for children to learn with joy.
As the body of the Report analyses, a major problem is connected with the notions of 'knowledge explosion' and the' catching up' syndrome. We believe that these problems cannot be fully addressed through easily manageable administrative actions. They need wider discussions because they are centrally connected with images of our civilization self-esteem and societal goals. Such a wide discussion can come about through publication of this Report, and through a set of seminars, meetings and media discussions. Academics, thinkers, need to pour over this basic problem.
The question of medium of instruction, particularly in early life, will not be fully resolved till the time our dominant and externally connected sections of society continue to give more importance to elementary graces in a foreign language, than to intimate connections with the 'vernacular' knowledge which our children gain during every week of their growing up before they go to school. It is because of this reason that we have restrained ourselves from repeating the recommendation that mother tongue alone should be the medium of instruction at the primary stage.
1. A number of organizations and departments organize competitions at district, state and national level for students in various fields such as school subjects, exhibitions, essay writing, elocution, etc. Perhaps the spirit behind these activities is to recognize and reward the talent in diverse fields. But, unfortunately this tends to produce somewhat unhealthy singling out of people for their brief moment of glory. Competitions where individual achievement is rewarded need to be discouraged since they deprive children of joyful learning. However, group activities and group achievements must be encouraged and rewarded to give a boost to cooperative learning in schools.
2. (a) The process of curriculum-framing and preparation of textbooks of decentralized so as to increase teachers' involvement in these tasks. Decentralization should mean greater autonomy, within state- level apparatus, to district-level boards or other relevant authority, and to heads of schools and classroom teachers to develop curricular materials on their own, best suited to the needs of local environment. All the schools be encouraged to innovate in all aspects of curriculum, including choice of textbooks and other materials.
(b) Voluntary organizations with a specific commitment to pedagogical innovations within the formal or non-formal system be provided greater freedom and support in development of curriculum, textbooks and teacher training. A suitable and adequate mechanism be evolved for wider dissemination of the experiences of such organizations.
(c) We endorse the idea of setting up education committees at village, block and district level to undertake planning and supervision of schools under their jurisdiction.
(d) Sufficient contingency amount (not less than 10 per cent of the total salary bill of the school) be placed at the disposal of heads of schools for purchase, repair and replacement of pedagogical equipment.
3. The culture of writing textbooks be changed so as to involve a much large number of teachers in the preparation of textbooks. The scientists and experts in various disciplines may be associated with the preparation of textbooks as consultants and not as writers of the books. Initiative in this regard should rest with groups of enlightened and innovative teachers who should be provided training in book writing.
4. At least three parallel systems of school education (syllabus, textbooks and examination) are running concurrently in different states. In each state majority of schools are affiliated to the State Board of Education while a few are affiliated to either CBSE or Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE). The schools affiliated to CBSE in the states other than Delhi enjoy the prestige of being elite schools. The CBSE curriculum becomes a trend-setter for the State Boards leading to heavier curriculum for majority of children. Therefore, the committee recommends that jurisdiction of CBSE be restricted to Kendriya and Navodaya Vidyalayas and all other schools be affiliated to the respective State Boards.
5. (a) Appropriate legislative and administrative measures be adopted to regulate the opening and functioning of early childhood education institutions (pre-schools). Norms regarding accommodation, staff, apparatuses, play material be laid down for the recognition of these schools. It should be ensured that these institutions do not perpetrate violence on young children by inflicting a heavy dose of 'over-education' in the form of formal teaching of Reading, Writing and Numbers. The practice of holding tests and interviews for admission to nursery class be abolished.
(b) Norms for granting recognition to private schools be made more stringent. This will prove conducive for improving the quality of learning on the one hand and arrest growing commercialization on the other. The norms, thus developed, be made uniformly applicable to all schools including the state-run institutions.
6. There is no jurisdiction for torturing the young children by compelling them to carry very heavy bags of books everyday to schools. Textbooks should be treated as school property and thus, there should be no need for children to purchase the books individually and carry them daily to homes. A separate time-table for the assignment of home work and for the use of textbooks and notebooks be prepared by the school and be made known to the children in advance.
7. The nature and character of homework needs a radical change. In the primary classes, children should not be given by homework, save for extension of explorations in the home environment. In the upper primary and secondary classes, homework, where necessary, should be non-textual, and textbooks, when needed for work at home should be made available on a rotation basis.
8. The existing norm for teacher-pupil ratio (i.e. 1:40) should be enforced and all attempt should be made to reduce this to 1:30, at least in the primary classes, as a basis for future educational planning.
9. Greater use of the electronic media be made for the creation of a child-centered social ethos in the country. A regular television programme addressed to students, teachers and parents and possibly called 'Shiksha Darshan' be launched, along the lines of the 'Krishi Darshan' programme.
10.(a) Inadequate programme of teacher preparation leads to unsatisfactory quality of learning in schools. The B.Ed. programme should offer the possibility of specialization in secondary or elementary or nursery education. The duration of the programme should either be one year after graduation or three-four years after higher secondary. The content of the programme should be restructured to ensure its relevance to the changing needs of school education and to make it more practicum-centred. The emphasis in these programmes should be on enabling the trainees to acquire the ability for self learning and independent thinking. Pre-service teacher education programme, being a professional course, has to be a rigorous, thorough and intensive programme. Therefore, B.Ed. degree courses by correspondence be derecognised.
(b) The continuing education of teachers must be institutionalised. The organisation of inservice education programmes and other activities aimed at professional growth of teachers be systematically designed and conducted imaginatively.
11. The public examinations taken at the end of Class X and XII be reviewed with a view to ensure replacement of thew prevailing text- based and 'quiz type' questioning by the concept-based questioning. This single reform is sufficient to improve the quality of learning and save the children from the tyranny of memorisation.
12. (a) A project team with a number of sub-groups be set up in each state to examine the syllabi and textbooks for all school classes. The sub-groups be required to decide the following:
- The minimum number of topics required to be taught.
- The minimum number of concepts to be introduced within each topic.
- The total time needed for teaching this minimum number of concepts cornfortably by a teacher in the total working days realistically available in a year.
(b) Mathematics curriculum for primary classes in all parts of the country be reviewed with a view to slowing down the pace at which children are required to learn basic mathematical, concepts, and broadening the scope of primary mathematics to include areas other than number work (e.g. space and shape-related concepts and problem solving). The tendency embedded in the syllabi and textbooks of primary mathematics to accelerate children's mathematical skills by teaching them mechanical rules at the expense of understanding and intelligent application ought to be discouraged in future syllabi and texts.
(c) Language textbooks should adequately reflect the spoken idiom. An attempt should be made in future textbooks to give adequate representation to children's life experiences, imaginary stories and poems, and stories reflecting the lives of ordinary people in different parts of the country. Pedantic language and excessive didacticism ought to be avoided.
(d) Science syllabi and textbooks in the primary classes should provide greater room and necessity for experimentation than they do at present. In place of didacticism in areas like health and sanitation, the texts should emphasize analytical reflection on real-life situations. A great deal of trivial materials included in primary- level science texts should be dropped.
(e) The syllabi of natural sciences throughout the secondary and senior secondary classes be revised in a manner so as to ensure that most of the topics included are actively linked to experiments or activities that can be performed by children and teachers.
(f) Besides imparting knowledge of history and geography, the social sciences curriculum for Classes VI-VIII and IX-X should convey the philosophy and methodology of the functions of our socio-political and economic system enable the students to analyse, understand and reflect on the problems and the priorities of socioeconomic development. The repetitions nature of history syllabus should be changed. The history of ancient times should be introduced for systematic study in secondary classes (XI and XII). The history syllabus lot classes VI-VIII should focus on the freedom struggle and post-independence developments. The civics, as it is taught today, puts a great load on children's capacity to memorise Therefore, it may be dropped in its present form and be replaced by contemporary studies'. The study of geography be related to contemporary reality.