Making learning interesting and enjoyable — that should be the main criteria for any educationist or educational organisation when it comes to setting frameworks for children. No one can fault the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for not trying, but it seems to suffer from a distinct disconnect from what children really need in the learning outcomes it has prepared to assess them. Among the things that a child in Class 8 is going to be asked is if she can file a first information report (FIR). We presume that a child in that class will not be required to go to a police station unaccompanied and file an FIR; so this is an odd learning outcome to say the least. Another is whether the child can locate her parliamentary constituency on a map or name the local MP.
Now this is fine as far as general knowledge goes, but a child who does not vote is not really required to know these facts. A child in Class 4 should be able to read subtitles on TV, titles of books, news headlines and advertisements. Again, this cannot be a substitute for teaching the child reading in the classroom. Reading advertising lines is not a skill that a child of that age should be asked to acquire. The other suggestions are whether the child can read train timetables, a task which defeats even adults at times and how to locate places on a map.
These draft learning outcomes, if implemented, could hold the difference between the child progressing to the next class. Draft learning outcomes for each class have been developed for languages — Hindi, English and Urdu, mathematics, environmental studies, science, and social science. Mercifully, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has made the draft public for suggestions and comments till the end of the month. These outcomes may be included in the Right to Education (RTE) too. The NCERT goes further and asks children to discuss the Rajya Sabha TV show Samvidhan and watch movies like Gandhi, Sardar and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. While these are undoubtedly educational pursuits, none of them sound particularly child friendly.
The draft seems to have been written purely based on theoretical notions of what children ought to know. There is nothing in it which could spark interest in the child or make learning more interactive or joyful. Hopefully, the public will come up with suggestions that are more appropriate for the child and which will engage her in a more sustained manner. This way the NCERT could reframe its draft to serve children better, which should be at the heart of any learning outcome.