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Semesters, extra language in curriculum framework

By, New delhi
Aug 23, 2023 11:55 PM IST

To be sure, NCF will remain recommendatory in nature, with states free to accept or reject it. NCF was last revised in 2005

Two Indian languages as compulsory subjects in Class IX and Class X and one in Class XI and Class XII; a semester system for Class XI and Class XII with the option to sit for so-called board examinations twice a year, helping students test immediately in a course they have finished in a semester; and the freedom to choose subjects from arts, sciences, and humanities in these two classes — these are some of the far-reaching and radical changes in the final version of National Curriculum Framework (NCF) released by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) on Wednesday.

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NCF, drafted by the Union government-appointed national steering committee headed by K Kasturirangan, the former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. NEP emphasised on teaching Indian languages and offering them as medium of instruction in school and higher education.

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NCF also defines benchmarks for NCERT textbooks used in schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), teaching and learning practices, and assessment methods .

To be sure, NCF will remain recommendatory in nature, with states free to accept or reject it. NCF was last revised in 2005.

An early draft of NCF was released by NCERT in April for wider public consultation. Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday handed over the final NCF to the recently constituted 19-member National Syllabus and Teaching Learning Material Committee (NSTC) which will now finalise the curriculum, textbooks and learning material based on this.

While the final document retains most of the recommendations mentioned in the draft, there are some changes, with the most notable one being that on languages.

“Learning a language is learning a culture. Language education aims to enable the student to immerse and participate in the linguistic heritage and culture of India, including through participatory engagement with the rich written and oral literature of India such as stories, poems, songs, epics, plays, films, and more,” the framework stated.

According to the framework, in Class IX and Class X, students will now study three languages of which “at least two of which are native to India”. And in Class XI and Class XII, students will now be studying two languages with one of them being an Indian language.

The languages will be chosen by students from the pool of language and literature courses that are offered. The choices for languages include Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Pali, Persian, and Prakrit. In addition to this, foreign languages, such as French, German, Japanese, and Korean will also be offered.

“This is to ensure that these languages and literatures stay alive and vibrant, especially in states where they may be best taught and nurtured,” the framework said.

The framework also underlines that “at least one language native to India will be offered as an option for the medium of instruction to all students up to Grade 12.”

Recently, CBSE asked its schools to offer Indian languages as a medium of instruction.

School principals welcome the move while also raising caution over the availability of trained teachers for languages. “It is a welcome move to introduce Indian languages as mandatory subjects and it will help preserve our culture and heritage. However, schools will take time to fulfill the requirements for the successful implementation of NCF. We will need trained teachers, more space, and resources for the introduction of new courses,” said Jyoti Arora, principal of Mount Abu Public School.

Tania Joshi, principal of The Indian School in Delhi, said that it will take some time to prepare students for an extra subject. “The schools will have a challenge to prepare students, especially those who are in Class X now. Many of them have not studied an Indian language after Class VIII because they took French or German. Now they will have to study the Indian language as a compulsory subject. So, it will not be a smooth transition,” she said.

The framework confirms the recommendation proposed in the draft to conduct board examinations twice a year to ensure that students have enough time and opportunity to perform well. It says that the board examinations for Class X and Class XII will also be substantially “reformed” and made “easier”, while allowing students to retain the ‘best score’.

“Board examinations should be offered at least twice a year to ensure that students have enough time and opportunity to perform well. Students can then appear for a Board examination in subjects they have completed and feel ready for,” the framework stated.

It also recommended a semester system for Class XI and Class XII, and “no hard separation between arts, humanities, and sciences”.

“Choice-based courses are to be offered to enable flexibility and choice for students and to remove hard separations between disciplines and academic areas,” it stated.

The framework also stated that eventually all education boards should move to a semester system. “In the long term, all boards should change to semester or term-based systems, where students can test in a subject as soon as they have completed the subject, which would further reduce the content load being tested in any one examination.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Fareeha Iftikhar is a Special Correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. She tracks the education ministry, and covers the beat at the national level for the newspaper. She also writes on issues related to gender, human rights and different policy matters.

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