The MHRD recently came up with a very interesting announcement that the NCERT syllabus for schools across India would be reduced by half. From the outside it may seem like a hurried announcement, but the fact of the matter is that the writing was on the wall and it was sooner than later that schools and the system changed its outlook towards education. According to me there are 2 key reasons why the MHRD decided to take this step.
The first reason stems from the fact that for years now summers have been a dreaded time for parents and educators alike across India as it is the that time of the year when the suicide among students peak. India today has the dubious distinction of being the suicide capital of the world what with one school going student committing suicide every hour. Children are taught that making a mistake in studies is almost a criminal offence and the penalties that are levied at home and at school for not doing well in studies are severe. The mortal fear of failing in exams takes a draconian facet when it’s the board exams of class 10 or 12 at stake. The sad part is that children succumb to this pressure and fall prey to the stress monsters and in some cases the ultimate step of ending their lives.
Secondly the gap between what children study and what is required by the world outside is tremendous. The present curriculum does little to prepare children for life, in fact the manner in which children are educated in most schools across India makes that disconnect from the realities of life. The industry has mostly rejected the value of academic grades and focuses on the life learning which is more relevant to the work place scenario.
The idea behind reducing the curriculum is to make education more relevant and an enjoyable experience for the students. The challenge though is how the schools and the educators will respond to such a radical change in thought. There is a lingering fear that schools will figure out a way to hoodwink the system and go back to square one and continue to do what they have always done as it is so easy to revert to known than the unknown. The bigger worry is the massive lobby of the publishing and the private coaching industry that will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the fear psychosis remains as it is only then that their business will thrive. If children start enjoying school then who will go online/offline and study more and practise more for the exams it is a big setback to one of the fastest growing industries of this country! As good as the step to reduce curriculum seems, the real change will come when the entrance exams for professional courses and university will be revamped to evaluate the readiness of children to face life rather than their ability to retain academic information. Change is coming and it is coming fast. The ball is now in the educators’ court to make the best of this wonderful decision of the MHRD and take their first step to making schools happy spaces!