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Concern for Quality

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Concern for Quality: Curriculum reforms are at the heart of any wideranging initiative that may be taken to improve the quality of edu...

Concern for Quality

Concern for Quality:

Curriculum reforms are at the heart of any wideranging initiative that may be taken to improve the quality of educational provision at different stages. The prevailing curricular reality needs to be addressed in the following terms: 
• The tendency to confuse knowledge with information must be curbed. This tendency encourages the transfer of topics from higher to lower levels. 
• Treatment of children's learning as an isolated outcome should be replaced by the application of developmental norms that assume a holistic pattern of growth in motivation and capacity. 
• Productive work needs to be viewed as a pedagogic medium for knowledge acquisition, developing values and multiple-skill formation from the pre-school to the senior secondary stages. 
• Curricular choices have to be made with due regard to the child's context, ensuring the flexibility and diversity of the approaches emphasised in NPE-l986 and POA-l992. 
• Professionalisation of teaching along the lines recommended by the Chattopadhyaya Commission-l984 should be reflected in policies governing recruitment, pre-service, and in-service training, and working conditions.
• Educational technology should be viewed as a supplement rather than as a substitute for hands-on experience, both for classroom teaching and for teacher training. 

These recommendations should suffice to indicate our primary concern, that quality is a systemic attribute rather than only a feature of instruction or attainment. As an overarching characteristic, quality expresses the system's capacity to reform itself for enhancing its ability to remedy its own weaknesses and to develop new capabilities. The key reforms required in our system today are those that will enable it to overcome its internal rigidity and its indifference to changing circumstances. This challenge is identical to what POA-l992 had stressed in the need to modernise for greater flexibility. For curricular and training practices to remain relevant in a decentralised system, it is necessary to articulate the objectives and methods of reform with clarity and precision. The following deserve priority: 
• Equipping the school for taking decisions at its own level in areas such as purchase of material, collaboration with local institutions, and involvement with other schools in the area, including private schools. 
• Linkages between primary, upper primary and secondary levels in the processes of syllabus designing and textbook preparation. 
• Setting up of structures that enable school teachers and subject experts drawn from institutions of higher learning to work together for syllabus and textbook revision. 
• Creation of spaces where local-level representative institutions can work closely with teachers to enhance efficiency. 
• Cooperation between decision-making bodies and NGOs. 
• Encouraging greater communication and transparency between different structures and levels of decision making. 

Quality is not merely a measure of efficiency; it also has a value dimension. The attempt to improve the quality of education will succeed only if it goes hand in hand with steps to promote equality and social justice. Multiplicity of subsystems and types of schools tend to have a detrimental effect on the overall quality of the education system because the attention of the more articulate sections of society gets passed on a small fraction of the student population. It is desirable to evolve a common school system to ensure comparable quality in different regions of the country, which is the goal of this National Curriculum Framework, and also ensure that when children of different backgrounds study together, it improves the overall quality of learning and enriches the school ethos. If the curricular vision (flexibility, contextuality and plurality) articulated in this document forms the basis for developing a common school system, then a national system of education where no two schools will be identical becomes a reality. As an objective of curriculum planning, social justice has many obvious implications, but there are some subtle implications as well. One obvious implication is that special efforts will be required to ensure that education promotes an inclusive identity. Children belonging to religious and linguistic minorities need special provision and care in accordance with the perspective reflected in the Constitution. In the case of tribal languages, certain states have taken significant measures to facilitate early schooling in the child's home language. A more adequate set of measures providing for multilingual facility on the part of the teacher is needed. Similarly, policy measures taken to widen the curricular scope of madrasa education need to be strengthened. 

The subtler implications of social justice as an objective of curriculum policy are more challenging. These relate to awareness and capacities, flexibility and imaginative coordination, among syllabus designers, textbook writers and teachers. 

For education to remain a nurturing experience for all children, irrespective of their socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, concrete steps are needed in teacher education, curriculum, and in the procedures used for syllabus and textbook preparation. 

Teacher-education programmes, like B.Ed. and M.Ed. in place today, pay inadequate attention to the responsibility that a teacher has in constructing a classroom culture that might provide an inclusive environment for children, especially girls from oppressed or marginalised social backgrounds. In syllabus designing and textbook writing, the items showing sensitivity to cultural differences often come in as afterthoughts rather than as in-built features of the process. The case of gender and special needs is similar. One of the many messages received by NCERT in the course of deliberations over the National Curriculum Framework review came from a teenage girl, who suggested that specific measures are needed to inculcate greater self-awareness among boys regarding their behaviour towards girls. Such an idea could be extended to cover all aspects of a culturally inclusive classroom and school policy.
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CLEAR CTET: Concern for Quality
Concern for Quality
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