Inclusion of cartoons in higher classes was one key innovation designed by NCERT

 Less than a week after Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal condemned a political science textbook containing a cartoon claimed to be derogatory of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, an expert team including government representatives has told his Ministry that the National Curriculum Framework which led to its creation was a “major step forward.” 

The positive remarks were made by the 15th Joint Review Mission (JRM) of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, which visited schools in ten States during January 16 to 30 this year.  The team said the 2005 National Curriculum Framework, or NCF,  which suggested innovations like including cartoons in textbooks, was assuming a central role in the State-level education reforms. 

“Most of the States visited in the JRM are reported to have either revised their curriculum or are in the process of revising it,'' said the report, which was submitted to the Human Resource Development Ministry recently. “Nearly all indicate that their curriculum reform is based on the principles of the NCF-2005.”

The NCF-2005 suggested bringing innovations into school textbooks to make them more interesting and accessible to students. Inclusion of cartoons in the higher classes was one key innovation included in the school textbooks designed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) from 2006 onwards. in Tamil Nadu.

Schools, the report says, are now being accepted as a space where knowledge is created and the child is seen as the central point of all strategies and activities, which constitute a normal school day. There is also greater recognition of the local context and local knowledge. 

The JRM teams observed that innovative new programmes have energized the school space. “They have created space for children to move at their own pace and for teachers to take initiatives and the Mission came across many instances that support this observation,” the report said.

In its report, the JRM has applauded Tamil Nadu as one of the States which demonstrated a holistic vision through a very carefully planned systemic educational reform process.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, or the SSA, implemented in partnership with State governments, is aimed at providing relevant and meaningful education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years. The SSA norms have now been harmonised to with the provisions of the Right to Education. The programme is supported by domestic resources, supplemented partially by external funding from the World Bank's International Development Association, United Kingdom's Department for International development and the European Union.

The JRM team comprised of members from donor agencies, the Centre, the State governments and experts.

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