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New Changes in the NCERT Syllabus 2019: what that means for students, parents, teachers, and schools.

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For years, the National Council of Education Research and Technology (NCERT) textbooks have stood frozen in time. Unchanged, except for some cosmetic adjustments, they have seldom seen any upgradations. Frequent omissions and errors, repeated year upon year, is not an uncommon phenomenon. However, sources within the Ministry of HRD (Human Resource Development) have signaled towards new changes in the NCERT curriculum in 2019 keeping in mind the new era of dynamic learning.

(Source: https://theprint.in/india/education/modi-govt-plans-ncert-syllabus-change-again-this-time-a-major-one/274854/)

Many of the NCERT Syllabus or curriculum guidelines that were drawn up in the early sixties still prevail. The net result of it is that modern discoveries and theories of social media, psychology, gene mapping, robotics, artificial intelligence, and other such relevant and important topics remain draped at the fringes of the educational processes.

With the NCERT reviewing the National School Curriculum, commencing from the middle of November 2019, we can expect the weeding out of obsolete content and replacing it with smart and innovative trends that align education to the modern data-driven world. The idea behind the new changes in the NCERT Syllabus of 2019 is to take into account the unique needs of the modern student and make learning interactive so that they can be taught basic life skills that have to date been missing from their curricula. After all, not all that can be learned is necessarily found in curriculum books.

The onset of reforms in the education system, starting from the new changes in NCERT Syllabus or the exam pattern overhaul by the CBSE, brings another important topic to the fore. While subjects like physics, chemistry, and mathematics are important, schools must also take it upon them to develop children into functional adults who can deal with real-life challenges. To do that, schools would have to change from places where education is imparted just from textbooks to those that prepare students to meet the challenges of everyday life.

(Reference: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/education/ncert-to-revise-14-year-old-curriculum-framework/article29705567.ece#)

For centuries, the traditional learning model has emphasized on telling students what they need to learn, even if that meant memorizing a plethora of syllabi and being tested mostly on their memory skills. This partial and somewhat inaccurate way of assessment is a gap that is successfully filled by other emerging pedagogies in the educational landscape, such as PBL (Problem Based Learning).

One of the most important reasons that Vega Schools follow PBL is because it is based on application and provides greater opportunities for learners to explore their own potential. In PBL, learning begins by articulating a real-world problem that needs to be solved. Learners work together to solve these problems and learn both subjects and essential 21st-century skills in the process. They find the learning more interesting and as a result, are far more motivated. Motivation also improves both retention and test scores. Rather than becoming machines that articulate facts correctly, we want them to be able to think critically and creatively, know the importance of teamwork, face up to life’s challenges with grace, and make quick and informed decisions.

It is fortunate that many schools are also now integrating skill-based learning, even if comes from being under pressure from progressive parents. The new suggested changes in the NCERT syllabus will drive traditional schools to reform their policies and teaching methodologies. These changes are even more propitious for progressive schools since they will now be able to align the curriculum better with what and how they teach. For the education system to reform, and for our children to learn better, it is important that educators and parents encourage and push, if necessary, the policymakers to ensure that NCERT continues to synchronize learning with the needs of the future.

As a parting food for thought, wouldn’t it be interesting if we reversed our approach to education policy-making, by understanding the requirements of the market (by data-driven research, or asking employers their priorities and needs, etc), and then constantly upgrading and weaving our curricula around it?

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