Preparing NCERT for NEP 2020 is a priority: NCERT director Saklani
The new director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), Dinesh Prasad Saklani, has set two priorities — timely implementation of the National Education Policy 2020 and preparing NCERT for the upcoming changes in the education system. Saklani, 59, was a professor of history at Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Uttrakhand before his appointment as the NCERT director on February 4. He has published three books on ancient and medieval India. In an interview with Fareeha Iftikhar, Saklani said the process to develop the new national curriculum framework has already begun in line with the NEP 2020
What are your priorities as NCERT director?
I have two fundamental priorities. First, to implement the NEP 2020 in a time bound manner. And second, to re-energise and prepare NCERT for implementing the NEP 2020 because a lot of things will be required once we adopt the new system and go ahead with it. NCERT has a severe shortage of staff and faculty. I would definitely work on filling these vacancies at the earliest.
NCERT had last year started the process of developing the new national curriculum framework under NEP 2020. What is the status?
The process to develop the new national curriculum framework has already begun in line with the NEP 2020. As of now, 25 focussed groups have been formed for framing the position papers (document outlining the structure of the curriculum of different subjects). We are going to hold a meeting in the first week of March to finalize the guidelines regarding framing the position papers. Once these papers are ready, we will prepare the syllabus and after that new NCERT books will be prepared. I will try to expedite the process by completing several works simultaneously. I hope that we will be able to complete the process before the three-year deadline.
There have been allegations that NCERT books have been saffronised over the past few years. What do you think about that?
These are all ideological problems. I don’t believe in that. As the director of NCERT, if I ever get any complaint about any content, I will get it examined by experts and professionals. I believe in professionalism.
What do you think about the ongoing hijab controversy in educational institutions in Karnataka and other states?
I won’t like to comment on it.
But it has reached the schools now.
It is unfortunate. It should not happen.
Recently, NCERT dropped a transgender inclusion manual from its website following opposition by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Can we expect it to get published again soon?
The department concerned had collected all the material, and in spite of doing research on that, they uploaded it on the website. It was not supposed to be published. It was just for research purposes. The due process was not followed, and therefore, it was taken out. It is being reviewed now.
NCERT was planning to rationalize the syllabus for classes 6 to 12 for the 2022-23 session to reduce curriculum load on children amid the pandemic. What is the status of the process?
The process has been completed for the majority of the subjects. We are focussing on rationalizing the topics, which have either been taught in the previous classes or already there in other subjects. Repetition will be done away with and it will be sufficient to rationalize the syllabus to meet the present need. We are also coordinating with the state boards and universities to maintain uniformity. It has to be a collaborative effort so that our students don’t find themselves in a disadvantaged situation when they appear for different entrance exams. I am expecting the process will be completed by next month.
NEP 2020 recommends imparting early education in the mother tongue or regional language. Is NCERT preparing content in different languages?
We will surely do that. It can be a problem if we don’t remain associated with our roots. See, why has China achieved so much? Because there is no communication barrier there. We need to remove the communication barrier in our education system as well.
Do you think there is hesitancy among parents for letting their children study in regional languages?
The English language continued to remain dominating in our country because we were colonised. Parents fear that if their children will not learn English, they won’t have a future. Once we give them better options in regional languages, this hesitancy will go away.