`Fear over changes in curriculum unfounded'

MYSORE DEC. 27 . The Director of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), Dr. J.S.Rajput, on Thursday said that the apprehension over the changes in curriculum being sought by the NCERT was because of lack of familiarity with the content of the education framework.

He said vested interests, particularly those who enjoyed monopoly in giving ideology orientation to school education for several decades, had already debated over the issue.

Dr. Rajput, who delivered the keynote address at the inauguration of the three-day 25th annual conference of Indian Association of Teacher Educators here, organised by the Regional Institute of Education (RIE) and the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), said,``they could not digest their being away from power and influence and hence, a considerable amount of criticism emerged out of biases and prejudices, mostly unfounded and unsubstantiated.''

Stating that the debate had relegated issues such as curriculum load and examination reforms to the background, he said issues related to value education, awareness of religion, Indian heritage, Vedic mathematics and Sanskrit attracted critical attention. The NCERT was seeking changes in the curriculum based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development, he added.

Criticising those who were opposing the changes, Dr. Rajput said that there was no rationale and logic in opposing the changes when the vested interests had remained silent for more than one-and-a-half-years when the issue came up before the parliamentary committee and later the ministries concerned for implementation.

He clarified that what was required now was not religious education but education about all religions. The NCERT had accepted the recommendations with ``extreme caution,'' he added.

Regarding the controversy over the changes in history textbook, he said that some textbook writers in history wanted history to remain in ``as is where is'' condition. Criticising those who were against the changes in history textbook, he said the contents in history textbook had been fully analysed. He said the NCERT had tried to suggest to such luminaries that it was examining the whole issue professionally and its books, when ready, would bear ample testimony to this.

On the issue of inclusion of Vedic mathematics in the curriculum, he defended that there was no harm in children being made familiar with the contribution of India to the growth and development of mathematics, and that the framework contained three full pages in perceiving, conceptualising the need for teaching mathematics in the future. Sanskrit had been included keeping in mind, the Supreme Court directive and also its (language) position in the cultural heritage of India, he added.

Dr. Rajput said that the curriculum framework would strive for balanced synthesis between change-oriented technologies and continuity of the country's tradition and heritage, and that skills had to be developed to decipher the positive and negative impact of the process of globalisation and liberalisation. ``Self-learning'' and ``self-directed learning'' should have to be internalised in the process of curriculum development along with a sense of patriotism and nationalism, he felt.

However, he said that the extent of success of the new curriculum would depend upon several initiatives, and that the framework would provide only a direction for further tasks. He said a multi-pronged strategy was necessary for concretising the curriculum framework into a well practised curriculum in content and transaction. A comprehensive understanding of these directions and indications among teachers and management systems would have to be generated, he added.

Dr. Rajput said that NCERT was for inclusion of local component of the curricula that needed to be developed through a process of coordinated decentralisation both for syllabi and instruction materials. The NCERT's initiative in developing the National Curriculum Framework for School Education provided an opportunity to the States and institutions to analyse the curriculum and use it as per their needs.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mysore, Prof. S.N.Hegde, the Vice-Chancellor of Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), Dr. N.S.Rame Gowda, the President of IATE, Prof. R.P.Singh, and the General Secretary of IATE, Dr. Y.K.Gupta, were present.