Prof Parvin Sinclair, Director of the National Council for Educational Research and Training, which celebrated its 53 Foundation Day last week, speaks to The Hindu. Excerpts from the interview:

Some NCERT staff members feel that their talent is being ignored reducing them to “labour” for the HRD Ministry.

I won’t say we are ‘labour’ for HRD but our dedicated work sent to the ministry often seems to be going to no one. When I joined NCERT (January 2012) I was amazed to see that the impact studies done by the institution which help the policy makers were given to the Ministry and there were no follow ups. These were detailed studies under National Curriculum Framework, 2005. These are impeccable samples and annual surveys in which every school in India is mapped.

Also we are short of staff by no less than 50 per cent. We are hiring people on contract.

CBSE has entered book publishing which was considered to be NCERT’s domain. Isn’t it an encroachment on your skill?

CBSE is not an academic institution it is only a certification body. The fact is if the CBSE consults us on such matters before it makes academic declarations, we would be able to prepare perfect material as we have the expertise. Take for example, CBSE included theatre in its XII standard courses from this year. If they had consulted NCERT, we could have made course material for the same.

What are the major changes that you have made in NCERT since you joined?

When I joined IGNOU as a pro-vice chancellor (in 2007) I was shocked to see the fear of math in the children. I worked with the marginalised in rural schools and learnt what they look for in their school subjects. It was a good experience which I utilised in NCERT.

I made my faculty members at NCERT go to the field for three months to different parts of India. Now, they have first hand knowledge of what children ask, how many learning centres are there and what is the level of curiosity among children to study further.

We went to all schools including Central Tibetan Schools and Navodaya schools. The faculty members stayed there, worked with children, replaced teachers for that period in their respective government schools and had amazing experiences.

Depending on these practical studies we will roll out the new syllabus from the primary level by 2015.

Along with books, what are you doing to make education more interactive?

We have just launched the National Repository of Open Education Resources (NROER) and held a National Conference on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in School Education. ICT will change the way education is imparted in schools. It is all about interactive learning for the students and teachers. We will be the contributory repository for resources of education which will be available in the form of concept maps, videos, audio clips, talking books, multimedia, learning objects, photographs, diagrams, charts, articles, wikipages and textbooks. We will ensure that all the resources are freely accessible to all. This decision by NCERT is in sync with UNESCO’s Paris Declaration on Open Education Resources.