The recent announcement by the MHRD Minister, Prakash Javdekar to reduce the curriculum load in schools from Grade 1 to 12 with effect from 2019 is a well-received change. The decision supported by NCERT and other government bodies finally paves way for Indian students to compete with pupils internationally. More importantly, this decision will help build 21st century schools in India that can impart the non-negotiable skills of creativity, communication and critical thinking.
Today’s work-life environment demands far more than content knowledge or cognitive skills. Renowned futurists, neuroscientists, educators, business leaders and sociologists cite the need for problem-solving, creating, innovating, and communicating to sustain the democratic and capitalistic society in which we live. The way we work, collaborate, communicate and socialize has completely transformed in the last few years.
Internationally schools have shifted focus from content oriented education to development of intrapersonal, interpersonal and life skills. Our experience of working with schools across India over the last ten years has convinced us that the curricular and academic load on students and teachers needed to be rationalized. In the race to complete the syllabus and score high grades towards the end of the year, the entire schooling system including the parents and students ignore all the important skills that need to be focused in areas of life skills, creativity, collaboration, leadership and emotional & physical development. Our existing curriculum, assessment techniques and pedagogy do not reflect the changes that our society has undergone in last decade. It is certainly not positioned to prepare students for the complex, challenging and uncertain future ahead.
The reduction of syllabus by half is a reform that is expected to be a turning point for the Indian education system. This change identifies that in the 21st century, where information is abundant, students must develop skills and understanding of concepts rather than rote learning content. Some of the key benefits of this transformative step would be that this would enable teachers and students to study a particular notion in-depth as opposed to being focused on covering the stipulated and extensive syllabus. The idea would now be to gain mastery of concepts, which is crucial to develop the higher order thinking skills of students. Once the initiative is put into action, schools will begin focusing on what students learn rather than what the teacher is teaching.
This change would not only be beneficial for student but would also help to reduce the stress level of teachers which in-turn would mean a more happy, content, committed and engaging classroom environment. The assessment patterns for evaluating the annual exam results would also see a drastic change. The examination would concentrate on the application of the concepts taught rather than re-writing the concept itself. With reduced syllabus, the teachers will have more time at hand to assist students in developing skills in the fields of sports, arts, computers, adolescence education program, life skills and most importantly development of 21st century skills like creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking.
Mr. Yeshwanth Raj Parasmal is the Co-Founder and the Managing Director of Strategum Eduserve Private Limited – India’s leading education management and services company. He is is a young and enterprising Social Entrepreneur committed to usher a change in the education field by contributing to the policy-making and capacity building of institutions.