Expert committee lists shortcomings in content
The recommendation of the P.K. Abdul Aziz committee for a comprehensive revision of the existing school curriculum that is based on the Kerala Curriculum Framework (KCF), formulated during the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in 2007, has fuelled a heated debate in the State.
The report submitted to Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb is learnt to have drawn attention to what it perceived as shortcomings in the content and pedagogical hiccups on account of over emphasis on analytical teaching and social constructivism.
V. Karthikeyan, education expert and former director, Higher Secondary Education, said the new education programme implemented in the State since 1997-98 and officially documented in the KCF based on the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) introduced activity-oriented learning, where the role of the teacher was redefined as a facilitator in students’ efforts to acquire knowledge. “Changes to address practical problems are understandable. But the problem with the committee report is that it does not lay down the intention for the change or how to go about the revision,” he said.
Mr. Karthikeyan said the pedagogical restructuring where textbooks and teacher-centric learning underwent change had not probably gone down well with the teaching community at large. Most of the teachers were products of the colonial style education where the teacher was centric to learning.
“Efforts to convince the teaching community about the need for change were partial,” he said.
Former Education Minister M.A. Baby said that the move to revise curriculum that had received critical acclaim from educational experts, including Prof. Krishna Kumar and Prof. Yashpal, was politically motivated. “A revision aimed at bringing about a positive change is acceptable. But that does not seem to be the case here. Shifting the learning pattern from teacher-centric to student-centric has been universally accepted. What possible change can be effected in this,” he asked.
Mr. Baby said the KCF was adopted after a well thought-out process taking into confidence all stakeholders, including the then Opposition led by Oommen Chandy.
K.N. Sukumaran, State president of the Left-affiliated Kerala School Teachers Association, alleged that the move was part of a larger conspiracy to sabotage the well organised general education sector for the benefit of the private sector. The move to revise textbooks before deciding on the curriculum change also pointed towards such an intention. He said the State curriculum had been acclaimed by several agencies and even recommended for adoption across the country.
“The expert committee report was not based on any scientific study and accommodated the views of only a handful of people. The recommendations of the report, if implemented, will push back the educational progress of the State by at least 50 years,” Mr. Sukumaran said.
Indian Union Muslim League leader and former Education Minister E.T. Mohammed Basheer said the curriculum should not remain stagnant but be revised to keep in tune with the changing times. “Anyway, who said that the shift from behaviourism to constructivism that has revolutionised the concept of learning is going to be undone,” he asked.
P. Harigovindan, State president of the Congress-affiliated Kerala Pradesh School Teachers Union, said the proposed revision was not aimed at revisiting constructivism but to broaden the concept beyond the narrow social constructivism envisaged by the LDF government. “The KCF is issue-based while the proposed curriculum revision focuses on outcome,” he said.