The State government might have pleased a section of schools and parents by deferring implementing ‘Samacheer Kalvi' (Uniform Syllabus of School Education) for a year, but what could it mean to teachers?
Teachers would continue taking lessons from textbooks that they have been using for the last five years and more. While the syllabus for classes VI and above was last revamped in 2005, the last time a comprehensive revision was done for primary classes was even earlier, say educationists. The syllabus is usually revised once in five years.
Much of the difference in opinion about the ‘Samacheer Kalvi' syllabus introduced last year for classes I and VI was regarding the syllabus of the primary section.
Educationist S.S. Rajagopalan says that because a majority of the students joining the matriculation stream come with prior orientation in kindergarten, the matriculation syllabus for primary classes is loaded.
“Formal teaching should not take place in kindergarten – learning should be through observation. If the syllabus is beyond capacity, rote learning takes place,” he says. In fact, there is not much difference in S.S.L.C and Matriculation stream if you were to look at textbooks of classes VI to X, which has also been endorsed by the S. Muthukumaran Committee, he says.
This difference in standard of streams at the primary level can be solved only if kindergarten sections were also introduced in government schools, adds Mr. Rajagopalan.
Teachers involved in preparing the content say the emphasis was on evolving a syllabus on a par with that of the NCERT and at the same time ensuring that students from rural areas also had a fair chance. But, with schools asked to follow old textbooks for one more year, teachers are apprehensive about the challenges in dealing with a syllabus that was drafted more than five years ago.
In class X Geography, for instance, Russia is still referred to as U.S.S.R and Goa still comes under the Union Territory status. A. Karunanandam, former HOD of History, Vivekananda College, says ‘Samacheer Kalvi was an improvement over the old syllabus for all streams.
In History, Economics was introduced one unit per class and Civics saw topics such as civil administration and modern topics introduced. A class VI teacher of Children's Garden Higher Secondary School notes that with textbooks that had colours, pictures and interesting fonts, it was a breeze teaching children.
Academicians say evolving a syllabus is a continuous process. Syllabus is the content that helps achieve the learning outcomes laid down in the curriculum.
“Syllabus changes to keep up to date with the changing times and also to constantly evolve new teaching practices. We must also remember that in today's society the children are exposed to much more than in the past. This also impacts the syllabus,” says Uma Raman, who was involved in the team that worked on English books for the Samacheer Kalvi initiative.
“For this reason, the syllabus should have a range of activities that teachers can choose, adapt and use to make learning both learner-centred and effective.”
Keywords: Samacheer Kalvi