Deepika Jain, Aug, 2020

With the announcement of the NEP 2020, discussions have been aplenty with each strata of the Education System, be it the educators, school management, teachers, parents, publishing industry and most of students too. All have many questions and doubts but only the coming years will clear the picture of the Indian Education System. Mulling over the NEP 2020, we review the views of Publishing Industry doyens and educators who discussed pertinent issues via a Google Meet whose main topic of dialogue was:

  • 3-language strategy / role of regional languages / ELT;
  • Impact and changes expected in the current publishing scenario;
  • Experiential learning.

A brief summary of key points:

  • Varied views and speculation on 3-language strategy: It was agreed upon that under the 3-language strategy, English, a regional language and the third language would be taught at least for the primary level. What would be the third language was still a point of debate as many felt it would either be Sanskrit or Hindi. However, most of us agreed on the increasing role of Sanskrit in the coming time, especially for coding and programming.
  • NEP gives an outline of what is expected to come but the picture is not clear. How it would impact the curriculum and publishing of new textbooks is still a far sight, which can only be commented upon once the new National Curriculam Framework (NCF) is in place.
  • Impact on Current Publishing Scenario: With the release of the NEP, the formation of the focus group will devise the framework of the new curriculum. It is expected that the observations of the focus group and NCF would be released by 2020-21, pushing the release of new textbooks based on the latest curriculum by the year 2021-22/23.
  • With the stress on experiential learning and learning-by-doing, NCERT might look at making its content more activity-oriented and experience-based. In such a case, the role of a textbook would change and how publishers implement this approach into launching new textbooks is something to be looked forward to. However, whether such an approach is possible to implement in Indian classrooms with a skewed teacher-student ratio and the resistance of teachers to learn the new methodology, is still questionable.
  • An increasing role of digital learning can be foreseen, especially since the pandemic has changed the way teachers are getting comfortable with using digital material. The publishers, however, would have to give quality and subject-aligned digital support, than some freebies.
  • The conversation on the new Secondary stage was for the most part an inconclusive discussion. Most people felt that it would be difficult for schools to offer students choice in each semester as the Draft NEP suggests and while the dissolution of streams was a great idea, it remains to be seen how this can be implemented.

Brief Q & As:

Q: NCERT is still to work on the curriculum, coverage (syllabus) and assessment pattern. Will this have any effect on the current projects publishers are working on?

A: There are many factors which have impacted the current publishing scenario. With the pandemic, already it is unclear how schools are tackling the syllabus and what role do the current textbooks play in online learning. Besides, as discussed, one can look at a time period of about 2-3 years (2023) by which publishers would have complete clarity of the new curriculum, aligning their publishing programme with it. Hence, one should gauge their respective markets and decide for the print-runs.

Q: If NCF is being released next year, why wait till 2022-23?

A: A similar case was cited when NCF 2005 was released. Some publishers are risk-takers and publish new books based on the new policy. Some add ‘new and additional features’ to already existing books, while some spend a year or more to get a thorough understanding of the new curriculum before commissioning and printing new books. This totally depends upon the editorial strategy of a publishing house.

Q: According to NEP 2020, it is speculated that till Grade 3, students will only learn ELT, a regional language and numeracy. How far this seems doable?

A: It is not possible to segregate EVS / Science / Social Science from language. What would form the basis of teaching a language if instances are not taken from these subjects? As being implemented in the current scenario, till Grade 3, students are expected to learn these subjects:  ELT, a regional language, EVS, Maths and Computer Science.

Due to lack of time and clarity on issues few questions could not be addressed:

Q. The five guiding principles of NCF cover more or less the gist of NEP. Most of the points in the NEP draft are mentioned in the final one. In school textbooks, generally from Grades 1 to 8, what kind of modifications are expected to be done if one is following the NCF in terms of content and variety of questions?

Q. Most of the private publishers’ books are aimed at enhancing reading, writing and arithmetic at the foundational level. To make this level multi-faceted (flexible, multi-level, play-based, activity-based, and inquiry-based learning), teachers have a major role to play. How can we improve or value-add on the present general content for foundational years so that it is more helpful for teachers as the children at this stage can’t use the content themselves?

Q. What kind of changes will be reflected in the content of the main English course book (MCB)?

Only time will tell whether we are headed in the right direction with the new NEP 2020 and how our education system will change?


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