“A child with values is bound to succeed later in life”
opines Raghu Ramakrishnan Aiyar, Executive Sr. Vice President, Amity University Press, in conversation with Varsha Verma, while sharing his views on the Draft National Education Policy 2019.
The emphasis of Draft National Education Policy 2019 on Early Childhood Care & Education makes tremendous education sense. Each child is different from the other and it is the role of the teacher to unearth the hidden talent in each child so that child can strengthen it. Hammering a child to learn scientific concepts makes no sense if the child is not scientifically inclined and is more interested towards art forms. This has to be recognised in formative years,” shares Raghu Ramakrishnan Aiyar, Executive Sr. Vice President, Amity University Press.
Early Childhood Care & Education
“There is a basic pre-conceived notion that child should learn a defined syllabus during formative years. This needs to stop. Child should be given a freer hand to explore and unearth what’s really in store for the little one to play with. It is rightly said, “What’s this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.” This is so very apt for every child,” he adds.
Values and Childhood: “In the past generation, this was done by the members of joint family giving the kids all the freedom to understand/imbibe/enjoy the early years with zeal and enthusiasm. Values were learnt by observation and not from specific textbooks on value education. The current generation finds both husband and wife working. More so, in a nuclear family. Competition, need of extra financial resources in stability on the personal front, these and more find the child being neglected, especially when it comes to getting the best of moral values. One has to admit, this is an unavoidable situation. If Preschools can do all these and more, meaningful early education would be the right thing to do, under the circumstances. The three R’s of learning (Reading, Writing and R’ithmetic) should be welcomed with open arms by children. This can happen only if Complete Education is imparted at the home front. And, if the home front is not possible, to a large extent from Preschools. This is so very important to imbibe in the formative years. Important because it will go on to shape the child’s future. Early bonding (read permanent bonding) takes place during this period, Again, this reflects how the child will interact with parents in later years. Early education, is indeed, a lot of moral value. This is the best period when children can learn best,” suggests Aiyar.
Let the child enjoy till the age of 5: Aiyar feels that ideally, a child should only go to school at the age of 5 years, but these days a child is sent to school when he/she is just 2.5–3 years old. “This is a growing stage and the child comes from darkness to light. It is an exploratory happening for the child. Ideally, the child should go through all the stages in a fun experience. Let children enjoy the environment happening first so that it gives the right momentum for the initiation in Formal Education.” he opines.
Language skills : “Children learn fast and best, any language in their formative years. At any cost, mother tongue should be priority no. 1 followed by English, a very necessary and Ideal International Link Language. In other words, mother tongue and English should be a must. The third language will need to be Hindi, our National Language. There are options for learning foreign languages at a later stage. Language learning is best when kids are growing. Also, it must be remembered, Language is not a body of language to be learnt, but a skill to be acquired,“ adds Aiyar.
“Today in most of the well-established schools, the students–teacher ratio in the classroom is 1:35 or 1:40 as compared to 1:20 in the earlier days. Again, this happens because of parents going all out for top schools with proven track-record in the Board Exams. Unfortunately, these very parents also seek the help and assistance from private tutors. May be if the students–teacher ratio was lesser, each child can probably get individual attention There is always scope for improving the quality aspect of teachers. Lot of work is being done in this direction, no doubt. A lot more needs to be done, though,” he adds.
Children need meaningful guidance, motivation and encouragement. All these and more from the very formative years. “Perhaps, one would wonder why I make this cliché of a statement? What is so new and sensational? Prima facie, it may appear that I am taking “Coal to the New Castle.” But my intention is totally different. In all these NCERT books/Private Publishers/National Education Policy squabbles, I am afraid,the ultimate sufferer are the children. And, they have no right to suffer. They must, in their early age get the best of education in its most concentrated form,” says Aiyar.
“If you examine the National Education Policy, it lays great emphasis on quality Early Childhood Education. The very fact this has been mentioned, implies that there is a lacuna/gap area in the system. And, let’s face it, there is.”
“In essence, therefore, I would say:
- Preschools have come to the fore.
- Children should be prepared adequately to come into the fold of bigger institutions for Formal Education. They should be prepared free, fearless and happy for the occasion.
- In the days of yore, children took the first step to school at the age of 5. Now, it is 2.5 years!,” shares Aiyar.
Role of a K-12 publisher
“The Private Publisher, today, is at a crossroad. Publishing quality textbooks, high on content development and rich in production value – not withstanding all these aspects, the government policy of low price NCERT books for schools, these and more have totally shattered the Private Publishers. There is a fear amongst the Book Trade also that they may all be jobless if the situation continues,” tells Aiyar.
“Again, 2021–22 will witness the new CBSE syllabus coming into operation. This means that the publishers will need to liquidate all existing stocks and also hope against hope that the Trade does not return unsold stocks in huge quantities. These are difficult times even as the Private Publishers keep themselves in readiness for 2021–22.” tells Aiyar.
“Since there is so much focus on Early Childhood Care & Education, there is greater demand for quality publishers, who are bringing out child-friendly books. Freedom to choose publisher should be left to schools and parents. Private Publishers of proven track record are responsible for nurturing some of the top people in the world,” he adds.
Aiyar feels that publishers should be encouraged with subsidies and government should reduce and make quality of paper at uniform level.
On Amity University Press (AUP)
“We recently brought out a series of new Computer books and Grammar Made Easy books. We have also added an app as a value-add in our Maths books. To make teachers lives easier, we also offer Teacher’s Manuals for every book. We have kept abreast with Hindi textbooks and have also ventured into regional textbooks in Tamil and Bengali languages. Our strength is pre-primary and primary, and our books are much appreciated for their high value of content and production,” concludes Aiyar.