On 17 September 2017, there was news of the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) making a number of changes in its textbooks. With details about the exact nature of these changes hard to come across, we received a number of calls from anxious parents eager to get an insight into the true picture.
To clear the fog, ParentCircle gets in touch with Mr Hemant Kumar, spokesperson of the NCERT, to give us an insight into the true picture. Here’s what Mr Kumar had to say.
What are some important reasons that necessitated the revision of textbooks after a gap of 10 years?
During this gap of 10 years, a number of important events have transpired, like the GST coming into force, demonetisation taking place and some new economic data becoming available. Our textbooks need to reflect all these changes; hence, the need to update them.
So, what we are doing can be termed as a review of the textbooks. It is not a revision as has been projected in certain quarters.
The NCERT publishes 182 textbooks and we are making approximately 800–900 changes or updates across all these books. So, although the number sounds quite huge, it is only around 4–5 corrections per book.
Along with the updates, we are also trying to explain some of the pre-existing content in a more simplified way so that the students will understand it better.
Right now, we are on the verge of finalising all the updates and, very soon, the books will be sent for reprint.
Are there certain classes or subjects where the changes made are more compared to the others?
Once again, we are not revising the textbooks, we are only reviewing and updating them. These changes are uniform across all the books for classes I to XII. We are not making any massive changes to the existing content.
Can you list a few important topics that have been included in the revised books? What is the purpose for the same being included?
Among the new updates, topics on GST and demonetisation are being added, as the facts have changed and the textbooks need to reflect them.
What about the review process? And, what about the topic – ‘Good touch and Bad Touch’? Was the decision to include it influenced by recent incidents of child abuse?
Actually, the decision to review the textbooks was taken around 3–4 months ago and that decision is being implemented now. We received feedback from teachers, students and schools through a portal created on our website and through email and postal modes. All these have been put together and analysed.
As far as the specific topic, ‘Good touch and bad touch’, is concerned, I cannot comment on this at the moment because the HRD Ministry and the Ministry of Human and Child Development have come together and are working on this issue. Once something is decided, it will be conveyed.
What is the reaction of schools to this review? Does the NCERT foresee any changes being carried out in the curriculum in the near future?
There is a general misconception that the NCERT controls schools. We are not in touch with schools directly and do not control schools. The NCERT is actually a research and advisory body to the Government of India on matters of school education. It is the CBSE, which is a different organisation, that gets the schools affiliated to it and directly interacts with them.
Every year, we take updates from the CBSE and the portal that we have created on our website. These are then scrutinised and important feedback taken.
Advance orders have been received for 2.4 crore textbooks for the 2018–19 session? Are these orders for the updated textbooks?
The NCERT has started a portal where both individuals and schools can log in and place orders for textbooks the same way as they do in other online portals.
Today, booking for textbooks with us stands at around 2 crores and 20 lakhs. But, this figure is increasing as new orders are coming in.
The books against these bookings will be supplied in the month of March 2018 for the academic year starting April 2018.
The NCERT plans to help children identify which streams to take up for higher studies through a test. How can students take this test? Can you tell us more about it?
This is an aptitude test designed to help a student decide what career she has an aptitude for and opt accordingly for relevant subjects. The NCERT prepares many such things, but it is up to different organisations and state governments to adopt and use them.
The NCERT is also coming up with a preschool model. What are the pre-requisites that a preschool should fulfil, according to the NCERT?
We are trying to come up with guidelines for preschools in our country because, at present, preschool is an informal sector, with different preschools following different models. We have five centres in our country, which are our own regional centres. Here we have our own schools, which we call Demonstration Multipurpose schools or DM schools. These schools serve as a laboratory for training teachers. Along with these schools, we have also created a working model of a preschool in which we are conducting experiments. Based on our experience, we are planning to come out with a model curriculum for preschools to follow.
The National Achievement Survey is being carried out by the NCERT to improve learning outcomes. What kind of recommendations does the NCERT plan to come up with, based on the results of the survey?
We have been conducting this survey in classes III, V, VIII and X for close to two decades now. The survey checks the learning level of students, how they are performing, and the extent of their understanding of subjects. The purpose is to measure how schools are imparting education and the areas where there is a lacuna. So, this survey is not about individual students but about testing the system to help us make corrections in the system.
Unlike the previous years, this year’s survey will be a more comprehensive exercise as it will be carried out at the district level instead of the state level. The tests will be conducted on November 13 for classes III, V, and VIII, but at a later date for class X.
An MoU has been signed between the NCERT and South Korea to teach yoga in that country. What kind of role will the NCERT play in teaching and popularising yoga in South Korea?
We have been interacting with South Korea for quite some time. Our team has visited their institutions and they have visited ours and we have had sustained interactions with each other. We have identified five areas of cooperation, with yoga and physical education being one of them.
Along with institutions in South Korea, we also have tie-ups with Curtin University in Australia, Govt. of Mauritius, and York University in Canada. And, we are exploring possibilities of collaborating with other nations as well.
Hope you liked this article. To get expert tips and read interesting articles on a wide variety of parenting topics, Subscribe Now to our magazine.