Not a well thought out move, say stakeholders

In a State where 8.3 million children in classes one to eight enrol in government schools, the upgrading of the syllabus from the State level to a ‘CBSE-like’ syllabus is surely something to be seriously considered and studied before implementation.

However, Karnataka’s decision to follow the guidelines of the National Curriculum Framework, 2005, from the next academic year was not preceded by any pilot study or feedback from students, teachers or parents.

While only classes five and eight will move towards the new curriculum starting mid-2012, the move is not one that is welcomed by all sections of society. There are questions galore to be answered: Are the students and faculty prepared for the change and do the government schools have necessary knowledge base to ensure that the shift is smooth, intellectually and academically?

While Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri has said that the decision was taken after extensive consultations with former education ministers, experts and NGOs, the reality is rather different.

E S Ramamurthy - renowned academician and founder of Shikshana, an organisation that tries to improve learning in over 700 government schools in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat - believes the move is not very positive for State schools.

“I personally do not favour the switch over. More importantly, the system is very flawed and a change in syllabus is a non-issue. The government is yet to understand that the most important thing to do is bridge the gap between syllabus and learning,” said Ramamurthy. He says the importance the government continues to give to exams and syllabus is only producing more children lacking in quality, even though they pass out of schools with good grades.

While students in classes five to eight will get new textbooks in the next academic year (2012-13), the other classes between standard I and X will make the shift from 2013-14.
Over the past few years, facilities in many of the government-run schools, including the faculty, have improved manifold quality-wise.

But sadly, the potential of teachers is wasted as they are forced to follow a mandate given to them by the State education department, asking them to follow the syllabus strictly.

Many students passing out of State syllabus schools with 90 per cent marks end up neither knowing their own mother tongue properly nor English. Dropout rate of children in 2010-2011 in lower primary classes stood at 2.09 per cent and 5.47 per cent in higher primary section.

Shahida Rahman, mother of three who are enrolled in government schools in Shivaji Nagar, fears her children will not be able to cope with the sudden change in syllabus.
“I would like my children to be taught a syllabus different from what children in other states study. But if in the long run, this (the change) improves the quality of students, then we must welcome it.”

The State runs 72,875 schools and while it is too early to comment on how the new syllabus will work, the government must surely consider imparting knowledge more than curriculum and also shift to wholesome education. 

“The present Class X mathematics textbook is a thin book of 10 to 12 chapters. It must be revised first to help the students, before they get into the CBSE mode in PUC.
Upgrading the syllabus to CBSE level does not mean cut and paste of the syllabus. To be on a par with that syllabus, the teaching approach must also change.”
Srinivas S
Founder of Quest Education Centre

It is important to upgrade high school syllabus first. In Andhra Pradesh, the State syllabus in high school is on a par with that of CBSE. That is why the State produces 40 per cent of IIT ranks. The change should be brought from the school level.
Manjunath K, Chemistry lecturer, Narayana Junior College

Infrastructure, language and quality of faculty are no more issues in government schools. But, rote learning through a syllabus that fails to encourage thinking is the problem. The change in syllabus will not help. A systemic change is needed.
E S Ramamurthy, academician

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