Indian Languages, English & EdTech – Policy making in the Indian Education System

This article is to report work in progress and allow the readers to determine what will the final policy from GOI on Education. There will no doubt be many perspectives and opinions, shares Sesh Seshadri – CEO & Partner, Overleaf Books LLP.

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Sesh Seshadri

The National Education Policy 2019 states that unfortunately, Indian Languages have not received their due attention and care, with the country losing over 220 languages in the 50 years alone. UNESCO has declared an additional 197 Indian Languages as “endangered.’ There are several unscripted languages which are in danger of becoming extinct. There is a view that clamour for English has left no concentrated action or measures to preserve or record these rich languages. How many more Indian languages will perish in the next 50 years. Hence, emphasis on Mother Tongues is a vital feature of our education system, and the Government is determined to progressively strengthen and update its teaching and examination. This is clearly articulated by the Hon’ble Prime Minster in his 59th edition (the recent one) of the Mann Ki Baat radio programme, where he referred to the language called “Runglo.”How many venture capitalists will support such an initiative for Indian Languages? Will there be start-ups pursuing this agenda?

Let us record the number of stakeholders who are currently discussing policy making for the Indian Education System. Question is whether there is collaboration between these policy makers in order to finally agree on a cohesive India Education Policy.

Let us list them for everyone’s understanding. When will these policy documents be published – I do not recall any definitive date being announced?

National Education Policy(NEP)– MHRD, GOI – A document that has made recommendation for education from early childhood care to PhD and Master’s Programme. The policy is still under discussion.

National Curriculum Framework (NCF) by the NCERT: The National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) is planning to review the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) in order to come in line with the new education policy. NCF is a 14-year-old curriculum and a committee is still being formed to review the same. The new proposed revision will be the fifth revision of the framework. The system is likely to undergo a major change in the pedagogical structure at the school level.

There is a good chance that the Foundational level (3 years of pre-school + Grade 1 & 2) will be brought under the Government purview. This might become part of an affiliation mechanism.

The National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) – In a move that’s expected to boost research in the method and practice of teaching, especially at the school level, MHRD plans to enact a legislation that would bestow “Institute of National Importance” status on the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Once the Prime Minister’s Office gives it the nod, the legislation can be brought before the cabinet for approval.

The NCERT, set up in 1961, has been publishing widely used school textbooks.

While it has been at the forefront of educational reforms & policy making, it is highly ironical the NCERT’s own institutions do not have the power to grant degrees.

The Chennai High Court Order – In its order the HC asked the Centre to instruct State Governments to reduce weight of school children’s bags and do away with homework for classes 1 and 2. In its interim order, the court also said that use of NCERT books be made mandatory. The judge directed the Centre to instruct the state governments not to prescribe any other subjects except language and mathematics for classes 1 and 2 students. For me the most significant one is when the Judge said:

Guidelines from the American Academy of Paediatrics articulates that digital media exposure for children of all ages should be limited. For children of 2 to 5 years of age, screen time should be limited to one hour per day. For kids ages 6 and older, parents can determine the restrictions for time spentusing screen, as well as monitor the types of digital media their children use. Infants aged 18 months and younger should not be exposed to any digital media, the academy says. Banning screen time for babies is hugely important for brain development and healthy parent-child connections.

Handheld devices in classroom in the light of what has been stated!

Education is a basic ingredient is the first sentence in the NEP and I would appeal to all stakeholders and policy makers “Please present the final policy.” With a lot of reluctance, I’ve to quote point number 26.3 – By 2030, it is expected that the past decade would have provided ample opportunities for evaluation, fine tuning as well as major changes if called for, to be effected.”

2030 from when? 2018, 2019, 2020… .

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