Indian syllabi encourage rote learning: WB

English courses still reflect grammatical approach

Indian syllabi encourage rote learning: WB

Parents might be concerned about the back-breaking weight of their children’s schoolbags, but what they read is out of sync with the international curriculum, the World Bank has revealed.

According to a recent comparative study with the Geneva-based International Baccalaureate (IB) and Britain’s International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) on curriculum, the World Bank has shown that the Indian syllabi only encouraged rote learning rather than creative thinking.

“Overall language instruction is clearly weaker in the Indian system both in curriculum coverage and level of difficulty,” the study said.
“This weakness is exacerbated by the general acceptance across schools in India of drilling, which tends to be rote memorisation of textbook content,” it added.

Language skills
According to the World Bank, it is a serious issue as a strong command of language was necessary to develop higher-order thinking, not only in language but also in other subjects.

Moreover, the Indian English syllabi reflected the grammar-based approach that predominated in the previous decades.
By contrast, most international curricula focus on content-based language learning and communicative competencies, using texts that are task-based and include real life communication-oriented exercises for students.

With respect to mathematics, there is a surprising amount of similarity in the topics and subjects addressed, although each curriculum has its unique features.
“Concerning the sciences (physics, chemistry and biology), the Indian curriculum is distinguished from the international one mainly by the teaching approach and the focus on rote reproduction skills,” the study said. Like the Indian mathematics syllabus, the science syllabus was not taught in a thematic manner and contained an abundance of standard exercises, which are directly related to questions on the certification examination.

“There are few questions that develop the use of contexts, broaden and deepen insights, describe attributed relationships or develop higher-order thinking or meta-cognitive skills during the learning process,” it said.
The latter types of goals and competencies could be clearly identified as a goal of the IB and IGCSE mathematics and science curricula.

The IB has 1,600 schools in 121 countries, and its diploma is recognised by major universities of the world, while IGCSE is followed in over 100 countries worldwide. Maintaining that the Central Board textbooks are considerably better than the state-level ones, the study said the latter seemed to predominantly address students’ examination needs, with even less emphasis on conceptual understanding.
It added that several of them seemed to be designed merely as notes for examinations. In addition, states appear to adjust the content to reflect low learning expectations compared with CBSE or CISCE (Council of Indian School Certificate Examination) textbooks.

Also in an effort to ensure affordability for financially poor students, states have compromised on the physical quality and attractiveness of the books.

The findings
* World Bank for revamp of Indian curriculum
* Overall language instruction weak
* Science not taught in a
thematic manner in India
* Central Board textbooks considerably better
* State-level texts designed merely as notes for exams

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