Perhaps it’s just Union Human Resources minister Kapil Sibal, or perhaps it’s the Aamir Khan effect.
From later this year, lives of school students across India will change. Under the Model Rules of the Right to Education (RTE) Act circulated to school education secretaries on Friday, rote learning will be replaced by a system of “Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation” that will take into account the talents of children in fields such as music, dance, art, writing and oratory.
Once the Act is notified, students who complete elementary education (Class VIII) will be given a certificate. The Act is expected to be notified before April 2010.
The Right to Education up to 14 years of age is a fundamental right and a constitutional provision. So state governments will have to change their respective education acts to implement the RTE and its Model Rules.
States have been given the liberty to formulate their own continuous evaluation schemes. But most states are likely to use a model similar to that implemented by the Central Board of Secondary Education across its 10,000 schools.
CBSE looks at how a child performs in scholastic areas such as art, physical and health education. Schools that have subjects such as computer science and general knowledge assess students in those areas.
Students are also evaluated on life skills such as thinking ability and emotional skills, attitude towards teachers and understanding of values.
The changes have huge significance for an education system completely oriented towards textbooks and exams, leading to intense competition and stress in students.
But the task of implementing a system of comprehensive evaluation faces its biggest challenge in the shortage of trained teachers. There are more than 7 lakh untrained teachers in elementary schools across India.
The country will require an additional 5 lakh teachers once the RTE Act is notified to maintain a mandated pupil teacher ratio of 30:1.